SBS has a streaming video service called SBS On Demand and it is a great way to catch up on shows you may have missed or didn’t know existed.
The Scandinavian countries are excellent producers of television content and having plenty of it to catch through the On Demand service can provide many hours of enjoyment.
One show I caught recently was “Young and Promising” – it is two series of six half-hour programs from Norway about three young women transitioning into adulthood. It has much to like about it and the fact that one of the three central women experiences a Bipolar episode makes it particularly interesting to those of us who have an active interest in mental health.
The women have middle class backgrounds and all are pursuing individual approaches to early adult life. Alex is an actress who fails to get into acting school but seems to have success in getting parts because she is attractive and a target of male directors. She is self-centred but in a relationship with a really sincere and nice bloke. Elise is trying to be stand-up comedian – she has a father who is about to have child with his mistress who she has disdain for and she uses the family as material for her stand up routine. Lastly, there is Nenne, a promising and ambitious writer who is going to be published by a respected publisher but the publisher is also a drunk. It is Nenne who experiences Bipolar Disorder.
The series is not about one character rather than another and it is definitely not simply about the bipolar experience, but the illness and the resulting psychosis is portrayed in a believable way. There is nothing about treatment – in the first series, she has the bipolar episode and in the second, she is recovered but not so drawn to her previous ambitions.
All of the three characters are believable, each is flawed but their situations and actions provide challenges where their behaviour and sense of morality is sometimes questionable. Of course, being set in a fairly liberal country some of the behaviour is perhaps more normal than we would expect but the show keeps on challenging the viewer’s sense of what growing up, or maturing adult behaviour, is. The mental health issues aren’t confined to Nenne; others in the cast are also struggling. But, Nenne argues for less stigma for people who are open about their mental health and Nenne’s plot is one of the reasons why I felt the series was worth watching.
Though it had tough competition! The father who is having the child sees a counsellor with his wife, two children – including acerbic Elise, the stand-up comic – and his girlfriend who’s the mother of his newborn. It is a great scene and scenario.
Highly recommended, I am accepting of subtitles now, and it might put some people off, but watching this series made me laugh, cry but above all else, always remain interested.