Afterglow: A Non-Spoiler Review

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Poster for Afterglow with title in Norwegian Etterglød. Woman with blonde hair and fruit on head and around neck smiling with her eyes closed.


Afterglow (2022-) is a Norwegian comedy-drama series available on BBC iPlayer U.K., It has 7 episodes of approximately 39-44 minutes in length.


“Follows Ester, a cheerful mother of three children who turns forty, and she and her family invite all their friends to a big party, but it takes an unexpected turn when the guests accidentally find out that Ester has got cancer.” IMDb

“Ester’s cancer turns her world upside down – but she has no intention of saying goodbye yet. A story of love, life and all of the glorious, silly things we want to do before we die.” BBC


Nina Ellen Ødegård as Ester
Torbjörn Harr as Arild
Hermann Sabado as Finn
Per Kjerstad as Jørund
Sara Khorami as Charlotte
Hanne Skille Reitan as Marlene
Niels Halstensen Skåber as Lars
Aurora Andreassen as Kira
William Cyrus Estabraghi as Aksel
Elena Pokotylyuk as Maya
Olav Waastad as Guttorm
Cyron Melville as Orry
Dennis Storhøi as Steffen (grandfather)


Creators: Kjetil Indregard, Atle Knudsen
Writers: Kjetil Indregard, Atle Knudsen, Mads Løken
Director: Atle Knudsen
Composer: Marius Christiansen
Cinematographers: Torkel Riise Svenson, Håvar Karlsen
Editors: Thomas Grotmol, Veslemøy Blokhus Langvik, André Saltrøe
Makeup & Hair Head Designer: Stine Hagen


I had delayed watching Afterglow for a while despite my knowing that it has won awards as the premise was a little off-putting concerning “real life”. However, seeing that Nina Ellen Ødegård recently won a prestigious award for her performance as Ester, I felt compelled to start watching this series. In truth, I didn’t know what to expect.

The thing that struck me while watching the first episode was how genuinely immediately funny some scenes were. And the humour didn’t seem forced but rather the things that people (kids especially) say and do that make you laugh and smile. I wondered if the humour would continue that strongly throughout the series, and the good news is that, for the most part, it does.

Now, this is not to say that this series makes light of cancer, or its effects both on the sufferer but also those who are close to them. It doesn’t. But it does have humour that offsets what are at times far darker and more upsetting parts of the storyline.

The other main thing about Afterglow is that while it does focus on Ester and her journey alongside her loved ones it is far, far more than that. We see the shock of the initial diagnosis and the incredible stress that she, her partner and children are put under. Religious belief is briefly touched upon as well. Plus how diagnosis and treatment impact normal “expected” life such as work and career.

This series takes a long hard look at relationships, communication and love. I want to avoid spoilers here but suffice it to say the story touches on parental love, unrequited love and infidelity. Communication and the lack of it quite often comes to the forefront of the story. It also allows us to see the effects on those who love and care about Ester including their state of mind and relationships. First loves, love that has ended, guilt, and forgiveness, all are explored.

Afterglow has great, authentic dialogue. The performances are all at least good with many being outstanding. I loved the fact that a child being Downs isn’t made into an extra problem over and above what it is for any other child whose family is under stress. Every character has their own motivation. If I were to be picky I would have preferred more depth to the character of her father, Steffan.

Another aspect of this series I liked a lot was the soundtrack and use of music — quality! The production design is strong along with both direction and cinematography. This whole show comes over as one with great production values.

To conclude: despite its central subject being a hard one I found Afterglow to be a very good watch. It’s funny and sad, and tragic and uplifting. I don’t think it will have a further season but if it does I would watch it.

Awards: 3 Wins

Cannes International Series Festival (2022) ~ High School Prize for Best Series
Prix Europa (2022) ~ Best European TV Fiction Series
Seoul International Drama Awards (2023) ~ Best Actress ~ Nina Ellen Ødegård


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