You know it’s been a bad week when one of the highlights and sources of comfort is the fly on Pence’s head. One good remedy is this Swedish series set in Stockholm. It’s easy to dispel the outside world and become completely engrossed in the trials and tribulations of a prominent restaurant owner family over the course of three decades.The first of its three seasons begins Post World War II: Class distinctions, abortion, Nazis, post-war poverty, xenophobia (Italians are the Swedish Blacks), homophobia, drug addiction, jazz, rock and roll–all propel the plot, along with extortion, blackmail, adultery, and all the rest of the stuff that goes into cliffhanging episodes. Be ready to employ a good dose of suspension of disbelief. Like any good soap opera (e.g. the fabulous Australian “A Place to Call Home”(2003) characters morph both unexpectedly and seamlessly from saints to sinners and vice versa. The moral compass keeps shifting. While much of it is pretty predictable, the character we loved to hate becomes the one we pity, good girls turn bad and bad girls turn good, if you catch my drift. I wanted to wait to review the series when I finished binge watching it, but decided to write this first review (another will follow) to see if I could hook readers who haven’t seen it. It’s been called “The Swedish Downton Abbey” (it’s really more a Swedish “A Place to Call Home”–in fact, so many plots and subtexts parallel it that there is no doubt in my mind that it served as source material for the Swedish production. There are differences. as I recall, food doesn’t have much of a role in the former. “The Restaurant” has lots of food. Even if you are not a big fan of raw fish, it’s hard to ignore the beauty of presentation and the care and work that goes into it. And fashionistas–you will love it if only for the women’s clothes.
I don’t think I can comment on the moral subtext until the end, (I’m mid-way Season 2 and hope to finish 3 by the end of next week) It would make such a good conversation that it might even warrant a zoom chat. Stay tuned.