Show: “Young Wallander”
Release date: Sept. 3, 2020
Genre: Detective, mystery
"Young Wallander" is the newest addition to a line of TV and movie adaptations dedicated to Kurt Wallander, a Swedish detective created by Henning Mankell. This modern update tries to tackle the Swedish refugee crisis, touching on themes such as race and crime. The six-episode mini series is an easy binge, hooking you in and keeping you on the edge of your seat.
It was cringey and a little clumsy, but, overall, the newest iteration of the famous detective hits the mark.
The show starts with Kurt Wallander, a rookie played by Adam Pålsson, and his partner Reza Al-Rahman, played by Yasen Atour, gearing up for an anti-refugee protest that is to hit Malmö over the weekend. Then, tragedy strikes with a seemingly racially-motivated murder when a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Swedish teenager is killed by a refugee. As pressure builds for Wallander to keep his refugee neighbor and friend out of jail, the city is terrorized by other racially-motivated bombings and terrorist attacks.
"Young Wallander" is Wallander's fourth on-screen adaptation, following versions played by Rolf Lassgård, Krister Henriksson and Kenneth Branagh. American and English television viewers are probably most familiar with Branagh's English-speaking BBC Wallander.
Wallander is the perfect dark, brooding Swedish detective. The novels about the same character feature murder attempts, family losses and even a suicide attempt by his daughter. However, "Young Wallander" forgoes all of that. This show follows a late-20s version of the character: a rookie on the force who still uses terms such as "booty call." It is not the show fans are used to.
As progressive as the show hails itself to be, almost all of the characters of color are painfully one-dimensional. At the police station, Wallander's boss is a rule-following Black woman who is almost immediately ignored for breaking protocol with the white superintendent. She spends the first episode reminding her precinct that the Norse Protection League, a dangerous band of nationalists, has just as much right to protest as anyone else.
This could have provided an interesting segue into her thoughts on the fear that has gripped "Young Wallander"'s Sweden, but the moment is quickly ignored.
It's not a perfect show by any means, but you feel yourself sticking up for the plucky Wallander. He is almost too innocent, in a way, shocked at people lying to their superior officers or refugee organizations not giving away the location of asylum seekers in the country illegally.
This show hits nearly every character in the book: the quiet, brooding detective, the refugee with a bright future ahead of him, the funny partner to ease the tension and a love interest who spends most of her time hating the main character. While they are mostly one-dimensional and fail to reach beyond stereotypes and tropes, it has effectively set the tone for season 2.
"Young Wallander" should be your next go-to series if you're a fan of Nordic crime dramas, TV shows based on books or just in search of the next easy binge.