Happy Friday! This week’s “global TV to watch” includes three series that revolve around attraction, vulnerability, and love, and the messiness thereof in relationships.
When I saw the headlines about the death of Tina Turner on May 24 at the age of 83, I gasped. She seemed ageless, as if she’d live forever. This weekend’s “global TV to watch” is inspired by her No. 1 single, “What’s Love Got to Do with It.”
The title of this half-hour drama could be Obsesiwn (obsession) instead of Fflam (flame), as the central character, Noni (Gwyneth Keyworth, The Trouble with Maggie Cole, Hidden), becomes obsessed with a man who is the doppelganger of her late husband (both played by Richard Harrington, Hinterland, Gangs of London). It’s been three years since Tim died, and Noni, a fiery young chef who was his student before his wife, is still grieving. Theirs was an intense, tempestuous relationship, and she can’t let go of him, even though she’s with gentle, kindhearted Deniz (Memet Ali Alabora, The Serpent Queen) now. So when she sees a man who looks exactly like Tim, she runs after him. Follows him. Invites him for a drink. And learns he is Bedwyr, a food critic. Whom she wants to be Tim.
So begins Noni’s journey down the rabbit hole, where lies to Deniz and her café partner and close friend, Malan (Mali Ann Rees, The Pact), beget lies to her hairdresser and Deniz’s sister and Malan’s life partner, Ekin (Pinar Ögün, Keeping Faith). This obsession is messing with her head and her life and she knows it. Still, Noni can’t help herself. And Bedwyr seems willing to play along in her fantasy, creating opportunities for them to be together. Things take a turn, though, in a moment of post-coitus clarity for Noni (the result of mind-blowing sex?) — and neither her nor his life, nor the lives of their intimates, will ever be the same again.
Fflam is currently available for streaming in the US and Canada on MHz Choice and its digital channels, including MHz Choice on Amazon.
Love Me (Älska mig) (Sweden)
One of my favorite series of the past few years is this Swedish romantic comedy-drama, which was remade as an Australian series that is equally as good. The show centers on the lives of a family following the death of the matriarch. The patriarch is retired lawyer Sten (Johan Ulveson, Bonus Family), his daughter is obstetrician Clara (Josephine Bornebusch, Harmonica), and his son is the unemployed young adult Aron (Gustav Lindh, Top Dog).
For what would have been their 40th wedding anniversary, Sten had purchased a packaged holiday as a gift for his now-late wife, only he can’t get a refund for it, so he ends up going alone. As fate would have it, while he’s enjoying the food, the spa, and other included amenities at the resort on Spain’s Gran Canaria, Sten meets Anita (Görel Crona, Spring Tide), a liberated, self-assured woman, and it isn’t long before their spending time together finds them in bed together. Sex seems to be all that Aron and his girlfriend, Elsa (Dilan Gwyn, Two Sisters), have in common, although he thinks that sex and love are the same thing and that he and Elsa share other things. His best friend, Jenny (Sofia Karemyr, The Beach Hotel), tries to put him wise to things, but Aron will have none of it… until he realizes something…
And poor Clara. If you were on a Tinder date with someone like the person she apparently right-swiped, you might leave in disgust, too. Ditto doing a candy run after a tense family dinner like the one she left. While she’s stuffing a paper bag full of sugar-laden goodies from the open bins at a 7-Eleven, a health-conscious guy tries to save her from the bacteria-covered treats. As it turns out, he, a model named Peter (Sverrir Gudnason, Borg vs. McEnroer), lives in the building next door to hers. (The look on Clara’s face when a billboard confirms he is a model is priceless.) They end up in bed together, too.
For Sten, Clara, and Aron, sex leads to drama — where love might not be a secondhand emotion, but is where complications begin.
Both seasons of the original Swedish version of Love Me are currently available for streaming in the US and Canada on Viaply.
Wolf Like Me (Australia)
For a bit of the fantastical there is this series starring Josh Gad (Avenue 5, Central Park) as Gary and Isla Fisher (Arrested Development, Wedding Crashers) as Mary. We meet widower Gary when he’s on a date with a woman from hell, and he meets Mary the next day when she causes the car-flipping accident that triggers an anxiety attack in his emotionally-fragile preteen daughter, Emma (Ariel Donoghue, Blueback). Gary is a sensitive type who tends to apologize a lot. Mary is a hot mess who has the galling habit of literally running away from (and toward) things. Like Gary, who lost his wife to cancer, Mary lost her spouse, too, although to a violent attack.
There seems to be some sort of cosmic conspiracy that keeps bringing these two together, like bumping into each other as he’s leaving another not-so-great date. It becomes pretty clear that Mary and Gary each have a full set of emotional baggage, so even though an attraction is developing between them, keeping each other at arm’s length initially is understandable. What Gary can’t understand is Mary’s hotfooting it away from him at the oddest moments. A twist of fate compels him to follow her home one night, and it is then that he learns the thing about Mary. The truth of why she can’t go to dinner, why she hightails it home when the sun starts to set, why there is a goat in her basement…
And he still goes to bed with her! While Emma bonds more and more with Mary, Gary falls deeper and deeper for her, despite her, um, regular transformations. Could this be a situation where love does conquer all? (Hopefully this question will be answered in Season 2, which has been commissioned.)
Wolf Like Me: Season 1 is currently available for streaming in the US on Peacock TV.
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