TV Series

Pros and Cons

A noteworthy addition to the Nordic noir genre.

Sep 7, 2020
Dimitris Passas

This show has been one of the most pleasant surprises I've had during the last two or three years when the television productions of Nordic countries, ceased to amaze and thrill me as it did the previous decade. In Pros and Cons (original title: Friheden), the creators of the series, Thor Bjørn Krebs and Mikkel Serup return to the trademark characteristics that made the genre a modern cultural phenomenon such as the three-dimensional characterization, the clever, engaging plotline, and the plausible dialogue that make the protagonists seem more human and identifiable. The final result is a 10-part series that I binge-watched in just one day (!) and enjoyed greatly. The story involves a couple of ex-con-artists who retired from their shady lifestyle seventeen years ago and now they lead a normal family life, having two children, the teenage Esther and the little boy, Kaj. Erik played with the perfect meter by the popular Danish actor, Lars Ranthe, and Nina (Lene Marie Christensen) are married and bored with their lackluster everyday existence. When an old acquaintance, Jacqueline (Lotte Andersen) reaches out to them in order to involve them in an elaborate scam that promises to make them rich beyond any imagination, the duo will be tempted and repulsed at the same time. Lars is keener on participating in the scheme that will allow him to make his dreams come true while Nina, on the other hand, is more reluctant and she is tellingly suspicious of Jacqueline's plan and real motivation. In the end, they accept the offer and they will have to dust off their skills in the art of deceiving others. The target of the criminal trio is a big pharmaceutical company which is led by a patriarch, Severin (Morten Suurballe), whose son, Mads, is shortly going to close a deal that will make the company more profitable and more attractive to potential buyers.

Thus, the story sets off and the plot has many twists and curves and the viewer is bound to watch one episode after the other to discover what happens next and how the main protagonists will react to the major plot events. The evolution of both the plot and the main characters should be exalted and set a standard for similar TV production originating from the Scandinavian countries in the future. Erik, Nina, and Jacqueline are n not static, passive creations of the scriptwriters, but alive human beings that try to survive the familial turmoil that this prospective sham creates and resemble ordinary people when they talk to one another. Moreover, the story is written in such a crafted manner that each episode has a beginning, middle, and end itself, thus making binge-watching the wisest choice for the viewer. The series maintains an even, steady pacing throughout the first season's ten episodes which is the perfect rhythm for a crime television show to unfold in and leaves no room for anything that may be redundant or superfluous. The performances in both the primary and supporting roles are excellent and perhaps of the best to watch in the Nordic noir genre for the last three years. I think that both the couple's performances are excellent while Lotte Andersen (Forbrydelsen, Bron/Broen-Season 2) is superb as the duplicitous, sneaky Jacqueline who cannot be trusted by anyone.

If I rated Pros and Cons, I would give it a solid 8,5/10 with all my heart and I have to avow that it was the most special Nordic TV production that I've watched in the last few years. It should set an example for other Nordic producers who seem to replicate cliched-tropes as far as the main storyline and plot are concerned while they neglect several crucial aspects of a successful TV show like the emphasis on the believable characters and the attention to the well-written script that eventually makes a production to stand out. I am eager to watch similar endeavors soon to regain my high opinion on the genre.

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Pros and Cons
TV Series
Thor Bjørn Krebs, Mikkel Serup
Lars Ranthe, Lene Maria Christensen, Lotte Andersen
10 ep/ 45 min

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