I’m pretty much up for reviewing any Scandinavian film or television series and when I saw that this show was from the makers of The Killing and Borgen I had to check it out. I’ve taken a stance of reading very little about the things I review so I can watch it with an open mind. Naturally, not knowing anything until reading the blurb, I assumed this would be another among the many Nordic crime wave shows.
The Legacy (Arvingerne) revolves around the Grønnegaard family. I imagine the word dysfunctional will be thrown around a lot but then every family is dysfunctional and has its characters. Veronika (the mother) is a ground-breaking conceptual artist who is universally adored, she also happens to be a rather bohemian character whose art is more important than her three children. Her daughter Gro (Trine Dyrholm, Festen) is an art gallery director and minds her mother’s artwork and sales, Frederik (Carsten Bjørnlund, Those Who Kill) is estranged from his mother, and Emil (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard,Those Who Kill and The Keeper of Lost Causes) is mommy’s spoiled little brat who travels the world and sets up ventures that are doomed to fail. And finally there’s Signe (Marie Bach Hansen, Klown), who is Veronika’s child that she gave up that no one knows about.
The plot of the show revolves around “The Legacy” Grønnegaard (Green Farm) – a large family estate that belonged to Frederik and Emil’s father and which one of the children is set to inherit.
Rich in settings, story and character this show is addictive. It took me about 30 minutes to get into it but I ploughed through the entire series in a matter of days. Every character, no matter how small their role is, is well fleshed out. They’re also very relatable and human which makes it easy to identify with a family structure rather than with a police team. I think this (apart from the writing and acting) is what has made the show so popular – people can relate to it, we are all a mother/father/brother/sister/daughter or son. If crime, murder and blood are not your cup of tea you can watch a show that has the same tension and drama as those shows but about a, well, kind of nicer subject matter.
The Legacy is a show that holds its own amongst Scandi-Crime shows like The Bridge and The Killing. Apparently in Denmark it got more viewings than The Killing and Borgen. When I read the back cover I did wonder if it would be as captivating as other crime shows but I shouldn’t have worried as even though the content was different the high quality of writing (by Maya Ilsøe) and acting means the show very rarely bordered on soap opera melodrama.
Yes there’s drama but it’s intense and shatters families, exposes lies and truths and has you rooting for one character, only to end up disliking them and the characters you don’t like to begin with you’ll end up liking. It’s also terrified me of any potential dealings regarding inheritances. There’s no silly side stories and it all feels relevant and ties in neatly. I was really impressed how the show kept up the same intensity and addictiveness as a crime show.
If there’s one flaw about the show it’s the same thing that cursed Twin Peaks… Who Killed Laura Palmer? well to most people the show died when that was answered and in a way when ” who will get the legacy” is revealed, new elements come in to play to set up for season two and this does make the ending seem a bit rushed in trying to set up a premise for the second series. The situation has changed but the characters are still interesting and I’m keen to follow them for another series and see what happens.
An absolute must own for fans of Scandinavian related media. I bet you $100 a remake is already in the works, and isn’t that a marker for any show that is worth checking out? Just be sure to check out the original.
Madman’s release of The Legacy is a 4 disc box set with a run time of 550 minutes. No extras.
Available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.