30° i februari: 30 Degrees in February (S1: All episodes)
April 10, 2016 8:39 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

To these Swedes, Thailand seems like a fresh start, a place to rebuild your life, where happiness is within a hand's reach. But they may discover that wherever you go, there you are. 10 episode character driven drama on Netflix.

NON-SPOILERY super-vague description of characters and themes:

Bengt is bitter, mean, in a wheelchair and has chronic pain, and takes it out on Majlis, his long-suffering wife. Their holiday in Thailand starts off with a misunderstanding at the airport, leading to a humiliating bargaining session. Eventually, Majlis discovers a whole new world and an unexpected side of herself, leading to a disagreement that turns everything upside down for both of them.

Glenn is a 38-year old engineer, corpulent, soft-spoken and riddled with self-loathing. His dearest wish in life is to have a family. He travels to Thailand to meet Karn, a young woman he has chatted with on a dating site, and who only knows that he looks precisely like George Clooney... Glenn is looking for a practical arrangement, but gradually finds himself in a complicated story of love, heartbreak, betrayal, prejudice and family ties.

Kajsa is a successful, ambitious architect and the single mother of two daughters, teenager Joy and young Wilda. After a sudden health crisis upends their lives, they move to Thailand in an attempt to find a quieter life. Things at Happiness Bungalows are soon complicated by the arrival of Chan, who has returned to Thailand to find his estranged son Pong. Kajsa's fierce competitiveness comes at a cost to the well-being of her daughters, but for Chan, his dream of reuniting his family is too much to give up on. Little by little, their rivalry leads to more heartache.

Oh is a Thai trans woman working in a massage parlour, owned by her brutish Swedish boyfriend. She befriends Glenn and introduces him to her sister, but romantic connections aren't that simple. Sara is a scuba instructor whose sympathy for a downtrodden person is tested during a criminal investigation. Later, Bengt jr arrives to find out what exactly is going on with his father and step-mother. There's a fire, a fistfight, an elephant, people are thrown into jail and some are released, a house is built and tested by the elements. There's teenage romance, gleeful shopping, dumpster diving, a ring, acts of vandalism, a catastrophe and a dead body (or more). Mostly the pace is leisurely and contemplative.

On IMDb and Amazon, the viewers seem to be sharply divided between those who love and those who hate the series. Trailer.

Winner of the 2012 Kristallen awards for the best Swedish drama.
Lotta Tejle was nominated for Best Actress at the 2013 International Emmy Awards for her role as Majlis.
Season 2 premiered in Sweden in February 2016.
posted by sively (4 comments total)
On IMDb and Amazon, the viewers seem to be sharply divided between those who love and those who hate the series.

I am only partway through the series (and enjoying it), but the divided reviews don't surprise me. I could see the pacing being a turn off for some people, and at least so far all the main characters are presented with their flaws front and center, so anyone looking for a simplistic good guys/bad guys story isn't going to be happy.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:06 PM on April 10, 2016

Yeah, those were all things I really loved about the series when I started watching. All the quiet, understated, even awkwardly realistic details. Glenn at the speed dating event, clearly wishing the earth would swallow him up. Kajsa's goofy dance with her daughters. Poor Majlis, longingly spying the outside world, so close yet so far away. The moments when you catch the fear of abandonment behind Bengt's cruelty. And then there was that heart-wrenching scene where Glenn pays Oh to tell him that he should die alone.

And yeah, the characters had layers. Like, Kajsa would constantly piss me off, until she would suddenly seem so fragile and human. Glenn would break my heart, and then he'd suddenly behave like an entitled jerk, and then go back to being sympathetic, and it was all very easy to believe. I also really liked the Thai supporting cast, and how they were doing that thing where you talk about foreigners in your own language right in front of them.

But. BUT. Somewhere halfway through the season, I felt like the makers lost their confidence in the kind of low-key, small story they were telling and turned the whole thing into a telenovela in stead. In the end I was practically hatewatching, just to get to the finish. Some of the plot turns you saw coming from miles away, other story lines made very little sense.

The divemaster thing was more than a little unrealistic. Practically everything at Happiness got amateurish and vague, like the murder attempt by tap water. And why did the elephant even collapse? The whole Joy and Pong story was totally unconvincing. Also, was it ever explained what the whole deal with Kajsa and Chan was? Had they been lovers before? Was she the reason he'd moved to Sweden for a few years?

And the... calamity in the end? What was it? They were warning about a tropical storm all the time, but then it seemed like it may have been a tsunami in stead, and oh well. Maybe it didn't even matter. I went from being really charmed to being disappointed and frustrated.
posted by sively at 2:20 PM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Loved it from start to finish. The Glenn character is heartbreaking. I also loved the strength and confidence of Sara the scuba instructor.
posted by unliteral at 11:29 PM on April 10, 2016

Season two has been pretty good too. Glenn is still heartbreaking. Majlis is all over the place. I'm up to episode 8 and I'm really fearful for what's going to happen next for Wilda. Actually, I wonder if there can be a happy ending for anyone.
I've been watching Beck recently and was pleased to see Rebecka Hemse (Sara) turn up as Beck's daughter in a very sassy role. I've also recently watched Blue Eyes and was impressed with the right-wing Kjell Wilhelmsen (Glenn).
posted by unliteral at 2:55 PM on December 7, 2016

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