LOVE AND ANARCHY: NORDIC STYLE

AHMET YILMAZ

The Covid-19 pandemic has positively affected the interest in cultural consumption, especially visual arts, among the large masses of people who spent a lot of time at home during quarantine.

Alternative series, which have replaced mainstream television productions for a long time along with motion pictures, are in demand. Streaming platforms, led by global names such as Netflix, bring television series from many different countries and cultures to the screens of millions.

As mechanisms that operate outside of traditional media dynamics, such platforms can include more libertarian and out-of-line stories than television productions in oppressive societies. Although they are mostly produced based on market conditions, many productions that reflect alternative lifestyles, wink at certain youth trends and push the boundries of oppressive morals, can gain popularity among the masses. In a period where people are eagerly and persistently recommending such alternative series to each other, some productions stand out from their counterparts even though they have only been shot for one season.

Swedish production, true to its name, Love and Anarchy are among the prominent productions.  For those who have not watched the series yet, it should be noted that the text contains some spoilers from this point on. The 2020 production, Love and Anarchy, which stars the main character Sofie, who has just started a new job, focuses a lot on social issues in scope of the culture industry.


The story takes place at the publishing house Lund & Lagerstedtin Stockholm. The relationship that started with a tense encounter between Sofie and Max, who works as a data processor at the same workplace, progresses with a strange friction between them when they just met, turning into a high-tension game. In each episode, sometimes bold or absurd demands for a red lipstick to change hands between the characters alternate between two colleagues. While these games surround the theme of the episodes, the romantic bond between Sofie and Max gets deeper and deeper. Although the series is generally described as a romantic comedy, it can surprise the audience with quite unusual scenes. The first episode of the series gives the audience a clue about the course of the story with the lead character Sofie’s masturbation scene.


In the series, interesting references to cinema stand out through Sofie’s relationship with her director husband. One dialogue salutes the famous director, Fatih Akin. The series’ reference to Turkish immigrants is not limited to this; one of the supporting roles portrays the character Denise, played by a Swedish actress of Turkish origin, Gizem Erdogan. Erdogan also makes a name for herself with her performance in another Netflix series called Kalifat.

The character analysis in Love and Anarchy is quite diverse. There are many types of people in the series. Denise represents a young lesbian publishing house employee, Friedrich a traditional middle-age sectarian publisher, Max a teenager who is partly identified with Generation Z, Sofie and her husband a typical middle-class northern family. Sofie’s elderly father, who is an anticapitalist, takes a symbolic place in character analysis. We learn the series was named after a draft of a book called Love and Anarchy written by Sofie when she was young. From time to time, Sofie’s anti-system rhetoric in some dialogues allows us to get a perspective on her father and her upbringing, as we follow her father through various social justice actions throughout the episodes. The strong mental bond -formed despite the generational difference – between father and granddaughter Isabell occasionally a political discourse stands out.

 



The series, which covers the authority of global companies over cultural institutions, as well as the ever-current issues such as artistic expression and freedom of thought, is the main agenda of the series. In the first episode, by exposing a famous author’s -and an affiliate of the publishing house- sexual harassment, the current feminism debates and the Me Too movement are referenced. The male writer who was exposed because of a predatory message he sent to a female writer, is ultimately not excluded by the publishing house based on commercial priorities. A version of a novel published by the same publishing house that “sheds light on the history of fascism in Sweden” as it is expressed in the series, is adapted into a film by a global production company, although the book is distorted. A structural criticism of the arts and culture industry is brought forward with examples where financial reasons override certain ethical priorities.

It is possible to describe the overall course of the series with a cliché that “makes you laugh”. In fact, it is obvious that the events that develop in each episode are handled from a humorous point of view. But Love and Anarchy does not hesitate to bring some questions to the audience. The production, which takes the future concerns of young people and observations of social media on the agenda, offers a wide panorama of today’s social issues. It allows us to see the different cultures of adult upper-middle classes in comparison with the worldview of the young generation. The first season of the series which offers a high-tempo dynamism with its music, continues on Netflix. It was also announced that the second season of the series will be dropped soon.



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