With real-life scoundrels such as Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former IMF chief and apparent sex addict—whose most recent exploits include allegedly asking a French journalist if he could lick the mascara from her eyes until his own face was covered in makeup—who needs TV villains? Well, I do, for one. And I find that I’m spending an ever-increasingly obscene amount of money on finding them.
I need basic cable to follow “Hoarders” and other A&E gems, as well as the full Bravo TV lineup, including not only “The Real Housewives” franchise but also spin-offs such as “Bethenny Ever After” and “Vanderpump Rules.” I only reluctantly forfeited HBO and Showtime, and favorites such as “Nurse Jackie” and “The Wire,” when my husband bought me a Roku player on which to stream Netflix and Amazon, for my 41st birthday. But during the past year I’ve made up for those losses by digesting all 28 episodes of the first three seasons of the gritty French crime drama, “Engrenages” and learning to love Sweden’s washed-out detective Kurt Wallander in the show by the same name. I’ve also grown passionate about Idris Elba's maladjusted character in the BBC psychological drama, “Luther.” And Roku has afforded me the added advantage, when I tire of international crime, of being able to revisit uplifting films from the 1970s and ‘80s, such as “The Deer Hunter” and “Silkwood.”
But with “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” winding down, and while waiting for Netflix to release the next seasons of “Luther” and “Engrenages,” I’ve lately been clicking aimlessly through channels and titles. I even resorted to viewing the UK’s lackluster “Wallander” remake, starring Kenneth Branagh, and to working my way back through, for the third time, all seven seasons of DCI Jane Tennison in “Prime Suspect.” So I might be excused for finding myself the other day buying online not only all three seasons of the Danish crime thriller, “Forbrydelsen,” but also an all-regions DVD player on which to view it.
“That was a nice move by you,” my husband said that evening when he came home from work, complimenting, I think, not only my sly debiting of his credit card for the “Forbrydelsen” purchase (an email notification must have tipped him off) but also my courage in finally taking the plunge.
I’ve actually been waiting for several years for this Danish police procedural to debut in the states and was not only sucked into but also disappointed by AMC’s limp, bastardized version of it entitled, “The Killing.” Even I, who will watch just about any foreign drama, or remake of a foreign drama, involving cops and killers, had to abandon the American rendition after its overwrought first season. I kept salivating over “Forbrydelsen” reviews such as, “the original is much better than what I’ve seen of the AMC series”; “the other reviewer was talking rubbish when he said the pieces of the plot didn’t fit into place”; and “once I started watching this, I had a hard time tearing myself away.”
I, too, have had a hard time tearing myself away since my “Forbrydelsen” boxed set arrived earlier this week and I compelled my husband to hook up the international DVD player in our bedroom. I’ve been running on fumes after being up most of the past several nights, not only because our 2-year-old has been a 2 a.m. pain in the ass and our son has been battling yet another earache, but also because I can’t stop following Detective Inspector Sarah Lund in action, sporting her woolen sweater, chewing her Nicotinell, screwing up her son and her most recent relationship, and chiding her new partner for crunching crisps in the squad car. All of this is happening in Danish, of course, so I have to keep rewinding, for instance, when I’m sneaking in a few more viewing minutes while folding laundry, need to glance down for a second to see what I’m doing, and miss a critical piece of dialogue.
Because it’s been a busy week, I’ve only managed to work my way through the first three episodes, each one representing another day in an investigation into the rape and murder of a teenage girl. “She was still alive when the car went into the water,” Lund’s boss tells her, trying to dissuade her from moving with her boyfriend to Sweden and to keep her on the case. “It takes 20 minutes for a car to fill with water. She was raped repeatedly, anally and vaginally,” he drones on. “The perpetrator wore a condom and took his time.” This is the disturbingly irresistible stuff I’ve been waiting what feels like an eternity for.
I will admit that I’ve found the fact that Lund never seems to remove her now iconic and probably itchy Faroese sweater to be somewhat distracting. But she was finally forced to take it off after a maniac hacked both her and it with a razor in episode three. I could almost hear Weezer in the background singing, “If you want to destroy my sweater…/Pull this thread as I walk away.”
Walk away I know I will be unable to do until I have consumed all 40 “Forbrydelsen” hours in their delicious entirety. I also already know that, like so many fans around the world, I, too, will mourn the trilogy's ending.
End it did for good, late last year, with Lund’s final misadventures in series three. But cheered by my belated and long-awaited “Forbrydelsen” viewing, I’ve entered a generous mood and have been thinking that maybe I could extend the trilogy's life by shipping my boxed set to Strauss-Kahn when I’m finished with it. Maybe then he could turn to lusting after Lund in her scratchy little sweater and give the rest of the international female population a bit of a break.