New Swedish TV crime series targets global appetite for Nordic Noir

by Reuters
Monday, 7 December 2015 14:28 GMT

* 'Nordic Noir' genre has millions of fans worldwide

* New crime series revolves around illicit drug trade

* Drugs still a taboo in usually liberal Sweden

By Alistair Scrutton and Violette Goarant

STOCKHOLM, Dec 7 (Reuters) - A new Swedish crime saga, dubbed a Scandinavian version of the U.S. drama series "Breaking Bad", hopes to emulate the success of other Nordic TV exports such as "The Bridge" with a dark tale of marijuana, mafias and motherhood in suburban Stockholm.

"Gasmamman", or "Mother Goose", stars Alexandra Rapaport as a mother of three and accountant at a boat marina who takes over the family's illegal marijuana business after her husband is shot in a drug deal gone wrong.

The producers of Gasmamman hope the series will receive the kind of reception won by "The Bridge" and "The Killing", which led to millions of people around the world becoming fans of what is known as 'Nordic Noir' detective and crime stories.

Rapaport, who starred in the Oscar-nominated Danish film "The Hunt" and appeared in other crime series such as "The Sandhamn Murders", is also co-producer.

Like many Scandinavian series, it has a strong female lead reflecting a Nordic emphasis on gender equality.

"When we pitched this we talked about it being a kind of "Erin Brockovich" meets "Breaking Bad"," Rapaport told Reuters in an interview, referring respectively to a 2000 film starring Julia Roberts who fights against a powerful energy corporation and to the long-running TV crime series about a teacher who turns to selling crystal meth.

Gasmamman mixes light-heartedness - including some hippy-like gardeners who guard the hidden marijuana plantation - with scenes of water-boarding in a kitchen sink and the daily drudge of a mother dealing with children's school, and drug, issues.

The title "Mother Goose" refers both to the geese farm used to hide the marijuana plantation as well as the sense of a protective mother and her children, Rapaport said. Goose is also slang in Swedish for marijuana.

"The Bridge and the Killing, they were a big inspiration for us," Rapaport said. "But I think we also add some humour to it, which is why we compare it to "Breaking Bad"."


The series is close in plot to the U.S. series "Weeds", about a mother of two boys who begins dealing in marijuana to support her family after the death of her husband.

Despite its reputation for social tolerance, drugs are still a taboo issue in Sweden - marijuana, for example, is illegal. Rapaport's character Sonja is uncomfortable with drugs, not least when her son gets into trouble for taking ecstasy.

"Sweden is not liberal at all in terms of drugs," said Rapaport. "Drugs are not OK, even smoking joints."

Gasmamman has large footsteps to fill.

One of the best known Nordic successes was Stieg Larsson's Millennium series of novels, starting with 2005's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". They have sold more than 60 million copies and been made into Swedish and U.S. films.

But for Nordic TV drama, it perhaps began with "The Killing", first produced by Danish public broadcaster DR in 2007 and starring Sofie Grabol as Detective Inspector Sarah Lund.

The producers plan four seasons for Gasmamman, which has received positive reviews in the Swedish press.

"Our plans", said Rapaport, "are to reach out everywhere." (Editing by Gareth Jones)

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