Bonus Family Season 4

That was phenomenal. I’ve got tears in my eyes.

It’s only about relationships. Only. We can’t live alone, we can’t function alone, and we never know what’s going through anybody else’s mind. How’s that for life?

You grow up waiting to get out of school and then you do and no one cares about you, you’re on your own. Then there’s Martin, who dropped out and now his life is one of low-paying retail jobs. He’s cute and fun but he’s an overgrown mama’s boy. He’s hard to love. Some people are born to be abandoned.

Then there’s Patrik, who works as a schoolteacher. You can’t have that job anymore, because the kids are entitled and the parents are nuts. When I was growing up the worst thing that could happen was to have the school send a note home to your parents. Forget what the school might do to you, your parents would come down much harder than that. Not only would they yell, they’d hit you. Were all baby boomers hit? I think so. And then they’d remind you of your failure, your faux pas, constantly. Today if you screw up your parents say it’s the school’s fault, the teachers have to apologize. And I’m not saying that teachers can never be wrong, it’s just that who would want to be a teacher? Kind of like politicians. I don’t want anybody representing me who is so squeaky clean they’ve never tried marijuana, never questioned the existence of God, never gotten drunk and puked. Otherwise, how can they understand me, and how can I relate?

And Lisa builds up her design business to the point where she’s so focused she’s got no mental time for anybody else. She’s driven because she’s fulfilling her dream, and she’s bringing home the bacon to boot.

And then there’s Katja, Patrik’s first wife. Cold and distant, she can’t even be nice to her aged mother. She finally lets Henrik into her life. She’s standoffish, entitled, and he’s only nice and she keeps pushing him away and putting him down, calling him a wimp. But she ultimately pushes so hard that he reacts. I see this paradigm all the time and I don’t understand it. A wily woman or man who can’t seem to understand others’ feelings, likes to control everything, and then a partner who appears to be a doormat. Most people have a type, even if it’s not good for them, they repeat their behavior endlessly, marrying the same person with the same flaws and expecting a different result.

And can you be relaxed in a relationship or do you always have to be on guard? Because just when you relax, that’s when things go south. And in relationships you never know when things will go south.

And you get older and you learn lessons you wish you knew earlier. Like if someone leaves someone for you, they’ll probably leave you too. Commitment is the number one criterion of a great relationship, but that’s what’s lacking in today’s society. Those who are committed succeed. Not blindly committed, but taking in data, making adjustments, keeping their eyes on the goal. Otherwise, you have to start all over.

And the pain…

The hurt, it lasts forever. The male shrink can’t get over his wife’s old boyfriend. Hates having to hear him on the radio. Touch the third rail at your peril. If you step out, if you cheat, no matter what your partner says, if they take you back they’re always gun-shy, they always think you can do it again.

And your new infatuation…you really don’t know much about them. If you have years invested in a relationship/marriage, don’t pooh-pooh that, it’s hard to stay together that long, a fling looks good, but will it last? Most times not.

So what we’ve got here is a Swedish series, about blended families. I found it in the comments section of a “New York Times” article about the best foreign TV. I’m always looking for something great, that titillates me, makes me want to watch it. Sure, some of the hyped shows can be great, but the truth is people are lazy, they won’t do the research, they don’t want to risk, never mind read subtitles, but it’s those who plumb the edges who ultimately succeed, because the more worldly you are, the more you’ve seen and done, the more well-rounded you are, you’ve got perspective, and perspective is everything.

It comes down to problem-solving. Too many people are impulsive. Then again, there are those so busy trying to get it right that they don’t act. I’ve worked on this problem with the OCD shrink. Better to make a decision, it’s the only way forward. And the truth is you will make mistakes, you’ve just got to accept that. But if you do your research, take a bit of time, most times you’ll make the right choice. And the truth is so many choices are irrelevant, just decide and move on.

But not in relationships. Not in permanent relationships. Ones that last years. Who you pick determines how your life works out. Martin is a screw-up. He can’t dot an i or cross a t. Do you know what it’s like being involved with someone like that? Unfortunately I do. You can blast them all you want, but it makes no difference, they’re missing a chip, a point of education, that they can never get, most times they don’t want to get it, and their self-hatred is worse than your criticism.

Wow. I wish this was an American show so we could talk about it. They used to make shows like this in the U.S., most notably Zwick and Herskovitz of “thirtysomething” fame. But despite the issues, there’s no heaviness in “Bonus Family.” These are just regular people, and it’s not life or death, except when it is.

I’m telling you right now, your life won’t turn out the way you planned it. I don’t care what college you went to, what professional degree you’ve earned, how much money you’ve got. You could get sick and die. You could give it your all and fail. You could be dedicated but your partner might see it another way. It takes two to tango, but unlike Patrik and Lisa, most don’t persevere, they don’t want to go to couples therapy. Hell, in America men think they can work out their own problems, ain’t that a joke. And most people don’t want insight, they don’t want to go kicking around in the dark and learn things. But even more think they’re okay, nothing is wrong, but then bad things keep happening to them. Can they accept blame? Usually not.

I’ll be honest, it took me a minute to get into the new “Bonus Family. Katja was played by a different actress, and it had been too long a time since the last season. But as the eight episodes wore on, I started to realize it was going to end and then what, I’d be left hanging.

But it was better than that. The obvious happened, but that was not the end like it would be in an American show. There was an aftermath, there’s always an aftermath. It feels good to quit your job, but then what? Or break up with your significant other. And your friends give you bad advice, they tell you what you want to hear and…

This is one of the most honest and real shows I’ve seen on television. You couldn’t make it as a movie, you couldn’t squeeze it all in.

And in Sweden the health care is free and it snows and life is pretty advanced. But most Americans wouldn’t know all that, because they’ve never been anywhere. Sweden is Scandinavian socialism, right? Well then how can Spotify come from Sweden? And Max Martin too, who is referenced in this show.

I’m caught off guard, it’s going to be hard to watch anything else, just like it’s hard to eat after a breakup, hard to go back to work, hard to function.

Watch all the superheroes you want. Live in the land of fantasy. It can be cool, but it’s not real life. Most people can’t handle real life, even though they’re living it. You’ve got to keep your eyes wide open, you’ve got to learn, but most people don’t want to.

And most people won’t want to watch “Bonus Family.”

But “Bonus Family” is real life, that’s why it’s so great.

A solid A.

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