Topic has become my go-to source for international TV series worth bingeing through in a year when mere American series just won’t do.
Their latest offering, debuting on Dec. 24, is the Swedish dramedy “Love Me,” twelve episodes that take three Swedish couples through the trials of new love, faded love, breakup and even death over the course of a season.
It’s been nabbed by US network ABC for remaking, with Elizabeth Banks a central member of the team pulling that adaptation together.
Perhaps she’ll be the creating producer/star, as Josephine Bornebusch is for the Swedish show. She plays Clara, a 30something statuesque and striking blonde OB-GYN whom we meet on a nightmare Tinder date.
It begins with “You don’t look anything like your photo (in Swedish, with English subtitles) and descends into Mr.-Out-of-His-League-and-Clueless blurting charges of “egotistical woman” and ends with Clara’s “This look you’ve got going for you” — baggy pants, odd colors and a Bozo hairdo — “you look like a clown!“
She lives alone, binges the singles-couple-up show “Paradise Hotel” and late night candy runs. Which is how her “meet cute” with flirty-hunky mansplainer Peter (Sverrir Gudnason) begins. He’s obviously interested, fake-“stalks” her home (he lives in the building next door) and doesn’t formally meet her until she comes home drunk off her bum after a bender.
Love at first vomit?
Aron (Gustav Lindh) is head-over-heels with his “love eternal,” tattooed and sexually insatiable DJ Elsa (Dilal Gwyn). He can’t get through college exams or job interviews until he shows up for them, and their epic coitus always makes him late. A wrinkle? She’s a “provocative” DJ who underdresses the part and vamps up her late night club work. And he’s got a too-cute pal/confessor, Jenny (Sofia Karemyr) who seems more his type, and seems to think so as well as she plants seeds of doubt.
He’s also Clara’s much-younger brother.
And the examples of love they both grew up under were their parents. Dad/Sten (Johan Ulveson) dotes on their mother, and gives the impression he’s been doing forever. And in the first couple of episodes, we learn why as we catch up with them (Ia Langhammer plays Kersti, the wife) as the family gathers for their 40th wedding anniversary.
Things are not as they first appear.
“Love Me” veers from cute and affectionate to judgmental, rash and lashing out as the assorted couples connect, disconnect, argue and make-up. Aron is prone to tirades over their “future together” and everything that Elsa does to jeopardize that. He’s quite young, all-in and all-or-nothing that way.
And Elsa more or less just takes it.
Sten stoically takes on the role of the doormat everybody dumps on, from his wife to gossipy friends to his kids. Even booking a “Senior Love Romantic” getaway with his wife finds him bullied and up-sold by a young travel agent who plays the “budget” oriented husband-spending “shame” card to perfection.
Clara’s “case” is the trickiest and funniest. She’s on-the-spectrum blunt, not wholly self-aware how abrasive she is but funny at being obnoxious. She has a married confidante (Nina Zanjani) who rolls her eyes at Clara’s “picky” criteria for a mate. There’s even a moment where she blurts out her fury at love and life and her unhealthy relationship with her mother as she’s screaming “PUSH” at a patient giving birth.
And Aron confides in Jenny as he struggles to convince Elsa of his commitment to their “eternal love,” which he naively assumes is what his parents have.
Yeah, it’s like that.
“Love Me” is touching and romantic and fun, and my best advice is that you catch the first season of it on Topic before ABC takes a whack at it. Elizabeth Banks seems a safe bet for making the American version come off, but you never know.
MPA Rating: TV-MA: Smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, sex, nudity, profanity
Cast: Josephine Bornebusch, Johan Ulveson, Gustav Lindh, Sofia Karemyr, Dilan Gwyn, Ia Langhammer, Sverrir Gudnason, Görel Crona and Nina Zanjani
Credits: Josephine Bornebusch. Streaming on Topic.
Running time: 12 episodes @43 minutes each