Bonus Family

Bonus Family

I loved this show.

We do not watch movies, I want something I can sink my teeth into, that I can enjoy for a stretch, something that is here and not soon gone.

But having said that, we did watch “Palm Springs.” Don’t. We only viewed it because “Bonus Family” finished and I was marinating in the feeling and it felt like if we started a new show it would be sacrilegious.

Before “Bonus Family” we watched “False Flag.” And “The Woods.” I prefer foreign series to American ones, they shoot for a higher target, there’s little chewing of the scenery, too often U.S. shows are a good-looking star surrounded by money, story is secondary, or unbelievable, or not thought out.

Also, we watch all of our foreign shows with subtitles, not dubbed. Just go into the settings on the streaming app, it’s not so hard to change. And if you can’t get used to subtitles, you can’t get used to wearing a face mask. In other words, it’s easy. The only strange thing is after watching for a while you expect the actors to speak perfect English, so when you see them on a Brit show and they don’t… Did you see Audrey Fleurot in “Safe”? That’s another Harlan Coben show, just like “The Woods.” Fleurot is magnetic, she is phenomenal in “A French Village,” and also “Spiral.” She’s red-haired and freckled and is a femme-fatale except when she’s not and when she had a heavy French accent in “Safe,” I was surprised.

And speaking of Harlan, he told me to watch “When Heroes Fly,” which we’re into now. WHEW! “False Flag” suffers from unbelievability. The twists and turns, especially at the end, they take away from the gravitas, but the first season of “False Flag” is definitely worth it. As for “When Heroes Fly”… The heroes are Israeli soldiers who are no longer in the army, but go on a personal mission to Bogota. If you like action movies with substance, you’ll dig this. The first fifteen minutes are war shots, but it’s all just set-up, so if you have an aversion to violence, just hang in there. Bums me out that streaming platforms don’t feature these foreign shows. As for Netflix’s vaunted “algorithm,” I’ve got no interest, it’s never helped me out. I just do research, my time is too valuable to waste, life is not getting longer. And I research all recommendations, but if the ratings on Rotten Tomatoes are lousy, I don’t bother. Recommendation is a skill, just because you like it doesn’t mean I will.

Which brings me to “Bonus Family,” I don’t think most of you will like it. Because there is no action, no guns, it’s just about people, and in an era where everybody is into cartoon characters, superheroes, where men deny their feelings on a regular basis, I don’t think many will want to see their foibles on screen, but that’s what I’m interested in most, people, their motivations, where they’re coming from, what they’re doing. I’d much rather hear about your personal life than comments about the external world. Your personal truth is only your own, but in fact, so many of us share the same experiences.

So, in Sweden, a “bonus” family is a “blended” family in America. Patrik meets Lisa on a school trip and she leaves her husband for the already divorced Patrik and…Martin, Lisa’s old spouse, just cannot get over it. And Patrik’s father asks what kind of person leaves a spouse for another person, he feels there’s a defect in character, but Patrik and Lisa soldier on.

And Patrik’s ex, Petra, is high strung and always right, you can’t tell her anything, Patrik sits down for a discussion and he comes back to Lisa saying he knows why he got divorced. Ever have that happen? You pine for someone in your past, and then you reconnect and your insides rebel, you know you can’t go back to the well.

So, Lisa and Patrik go to couples counseling. There’s no taboo in Sweden, they start not long after they get together, even though it’s expensive, they persevere. And the shrinks are a husband and wife team, and the absolute best part of the show is when they interact after the patients have left. The wife is cold, but she knows the husband doesn’t have the balls to leave her.

And the truth is most of our lives revolve around the small issues, not the big ones. Who is gonna take the kid to pre-school, who is gonna get the car, did you hurt your mother’s feelings, what are people’s expectations.

Katja is totally together, Lisa is not. Lisa is a very good artist, but she screws up on a regular basis, can you be involved with someone like that, I can’t. But Lisa says she just takes things as they come, she sees no reason to belabor the point, to prepare. And one of the big issues between Patrik and Lisa is the withholding of information. Do you share everything? Oftentimes in a relationship, one person does and thinks they know everything about the other when they do not. The only way Patrik and Lisa get past the “lying” is by going to the shrink, too often people never get to the bottom of an issue, they just divorce, or by time they address it, it’s too late.

I discovered “Bonus Family” in the comments of the “New York Times” article listing the best foreign TV shows of the last decade. I never used to read the comments, but now I do, to get the feel of the public. We gave it a shot and got hooked.

Will you?

All I know is I want you to watch “Bonus Family” so we can talk about it. So we cannot only discuss the foibles of the characters, but our own. Would I put “Bonus Family” at the top of your list? No, there are better shows on streaming services, but there’s a good chance you are not watching them, or have already seen them. You’re watching what is served up by the service or what has been hyped while the gems are buried deep, even though they’re totally searchable.

Meanwhile, I’m reading that poker book, “The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win.” I don’t even know how to play poker, but the book has me analyzing my own behavior and that of those surrounding me and has me wondering how much of my outlook can change. I don’t believe in taking a book’s word as gospel, just as Maria Konnikova, the psychologist author, doesn’t believe in the 10,000 hour rule, but she brings up so many issues about behavior.

Welcome to the pandemic, where we’re all looking for entertainment, where we’ve all caught up with our desires and are now scrounging for what’s next. All of the above will intrigue you, but “Bonus Family” is the most true to life, just search for it on Netflix.

P.S. View the videos at the link above, they’ll give you the feel of the show, if it’s up your alley…WATCH IT!

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