People are strange. And finally, TV heroines are allowed to be strange too, says Anna Hart
If there is one great myth I’d like us to dispose of right now, it’s the idea of a ‘normal’ person. Dip below the surface and you realise that everyone is a little bit nuts. Often in a good way. In fact, what we consider ‘nuts’ would simply be called ‘character’, in a kinder, less ruthlessly homogenised society. We’re all oddballs, sugar.
What’s so thrilling about the new wave of Scandi heroines is that they were permitted to be a little bit weird, and viewers all around the globe immediately related to their weirdness, because Sarah’s Lund’s weird is actually much more normal than the TV version of ‘normal’. [NB: Screen-Normal = sexy, perfect girlfriend with a tiny token flaw that in no way diminishes her sex appeal, such as a shopping addiction (Carrie Bradshaw) or adorable klutziness (Ally McBeal)] It was a beautiful moment, when the world finally came out of the closet as weird.
So it’s wonderful to see Saga Norén back on our screens again, as the Swedish contingent of a cross-cultural crime-fighting duo. It’s not explicitly spelled out that Saga has Asperger’s Syndrome, but we get the idea: she hasn’t asked her live-in-boyfriend what he does for living, she unconvincingly fakes laughter when she senses someone has made a joke and the first thing she says to her grieving Danish counterpart after a lengthy absence is: ‘You’re going grey.’
Saga’s appearance is a world apart from screen-normal, and therefore she’s utterly convincing as a determined, brilliant cop who has probably never had a blowdry. Her hair is straggly, her face is naked, her clothes - leather trousers, military coat, sweat-stained cotton t-shirt - are just a uniform. She’s far from devoid of taste (check the military green 1970s Porsche) but her response to clothes, cars and even people is instinctive, deliberate, and unmuddied by thoughts of propriety, politeness or other people’s expectations.
And in an elegant departure from series one, Saga’s directness is not primarily causing offense. In fact, she’s the only person capable of treating poor bereaved Martin like she used to, something he’s profoundly grateful for. Her boyfriend seems to find her openness refreshing and charming. Increasingly we’re being asked if Saga, far from being a bit mad, is the only sane person onscreen.
The Bridge is also a welcome screenbreak for Instagram-addled eyes. With a ‘f*** you’ to flattering filters, in The Bridge we see all the warmth of the world drain out through the plughole. This looks like the real world, on a dull day, when you have a hangover. Reality. How refreshing.