‘Anxious People’ Mini-Series Review: Whodunnit, Whydunnit, and Howdunnit

'Anxious People' Mini-Series Review

Fans of bestselling Swedish author Fredrick Backman have something fantastic to binge heading to the New Year as a new series based on one of his intriguing tomes titled ‘Anxious People’ is available to stream on Netflix starting December 29.

This dramedy stars Leif Andree, Marik Lager Crantz, Lottie Ejebrant, Per Andersson, Anna Grant, and Elina Du Rietz.

The new show is a six-part miniseries based on a novel of the same name by Backman. 

‘Anxious People’ however isn’t the first of the Swedish native’s literary work to be adapted for the screen as two other novels titled ‘A Man Called Ove’ and ‘Beartown’ already got the honors premiering to critical acclaim.

 The former even landed a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nod; hence the expectations for this next one are pretty high.

Backman is a pro when it comes to interweaving events and incidences together into a captivating tale. This latest work is no different as it celebrates the unlikely connections amongst humans coated in a darkly comic streak.

The captivating central theme of the show is inspired by a real-life experience of a really exhausting and time-consuming day lived by a group of eight different people hunting for an apartment.

While busy viewing one particular property a masked thug running away from the police after a failed attempt to rob a cashless bank for n interestingly specific amount of money, seeks refuge in an open house where these potential house buyers are busy checking it out.

Without saying much, the rookie criminal commands a pretty relaxed hostage situation where the hostages have the privilege of making themselves at home to the extent that they are even allowed to make some lunch before the intruder sets them free.

However, when the cops make their way into the house, the assailant seems to have disappeared into thin air and the questioning begins.

'Anxious People' Mini-Series Review

Attempts to have the hostages shed some light on the fugitive’s whereabouts prove futile as the witnesses seem confused or reluctant to give any information regarding the assailant. 

This show is directed by ‘Bonus Family’ helmer Felix Herngren from a script penned by Calila Ahlgren.

The two creatives slowly piece the story together by using the approach where every witness gives out their own account of events, which often are always differing and conflicting, leading to confusion and lack of base for prosecution.

Each half an hour episode is viewed through the eyes of every single victim who coincidentally happen to have their own dark secrets safely tucked away.

There is the married couple who seems to be unhappy in their marriage, and to fill up the emptiness brought about by lack of passion between them, they keep hopping from house to house. 

There is also a gay couple seeking a new and spacious place for their growing family as one of the two is heavily pregnant with their first child.

And then there is the bank manager, who is mesmerized by the pictures on the apartment walls more than the house itself.

‘Anxious People’ puts to the fore just how people easily spill their most hidden secrets to complete strangers as they know that they are less likely to be judged compared to if one spoke to someone in their circles.

At the end of the ordeal, several unlikely bonds that sprout out of nowhere are formed, showing just how close and relatable human beings are to each other despite the atrocities that people have become accustomed to.

Thanks to the design in which the narrative is unpacked, these individual stories still turn out to be more exciting and engaging than the question of who has committed the crime, why they have done it, and how they did it.

This comedy-drama expertly handles the anxieties that emanate from experiences and challenges in one’s daily life way better than the machinations of the crime itself.

The aspect of nepotism comes to the fore as well when Jim, played by Dan Ekborg, and Jack, a role by Alfred Svensson, a father-son detective duo, are tasked with the crucial role of negotiating for the safety of the hostages. 

The son is determined to show the world that he deserves the job and doesn’t have it courtesy of daddy, while the father is more concerned with the shenanigans of his drug-addicted daughter.

All these happenings as they grapple with balancing profession and family creates a lot of tension that helps in propelling the plot forward. Throughout the investigation, ‘Anxious People’ dives deeper into a tragic suicide witnessed by a very young Jim leaving lasting trauma that still haunts him in his adult life.

The damaging effects of the financial crisis that left one of the characters homeless being forced to call a storeroom cupboard his home are also brought into the light.

And then, there is the aspect of how grief can leave a person in a constant house moving status. All these themes are expertly woven together, and as one goes through the series, they realize that everything is connected.

The detailed plots are made easy for the viewer to understand by including plenty of comic relieving incidences throughout the show.

Most of the rib-tickling moments are provided by Per Andersson as Lennart, a jobbing actor hired to help advertise the houses. He draws people’s attention by embodying all forms and mannerisms of attention-grabbing characters dressed in a bunny outfit.

Compared to Backman’s previous work. ‘Anxious People’ lacks the warmth of ‘A Man Called Cove’ and the expressive strength of ‘Beartown.’

However, the storyline is excellently written, the theme highly relatable, the cinematography captivating, the editing is done well, the performances are great and the music makes it way much better.

Though the show is in Swedish, there are subtitles for audiences who don’t understand the language making sure the message reaches the sender and viewers still get the gags regardless.

For all the above reasons, it’s a pretty fantastic show that audiences can binge on as they wait on the New Year.

SCORE: 6.5/10

  • Hrvoje Milakovic is co-owner of Fiction Horizon and a big cinephile. Apart from that, he likes to read comics, play games and collect action figures. He has been featured on LifeWire, Yahoo and IMDb, to name a few.