Bonus Family

Watching this series was a warm embrace of familiarity.

It is increasingly common to see divorced families in the western world, and this Swedish dramedy explores the complexities of such family set ups. One superficial difference is that in the U.K. we call our parent’s partners ‘step parents’ whereas the Swedes use the term ‘Bonus’. That’s the main difference because the dialogue and character interactions are a truthful reflection of family life itself.

So Patrick and Lisa are a new couple in the 30s, both of which are recently divorced from their former spouses, Katrin and Martin. Katrin is cold and career driven, Martin is a bit more carefree and he can’t quite get over Lisa having left him.

Both Patrick and Lisa have a ten year old son from their former relationship and Lisa also has a teenage daughter. Patrick’s son William is polite, does well in school and introverted, Eddie is sporty, social but also loud and outrageously sweary, Bianca is a typical teenage girl.

The premise is fascinating, and the characters all bring about idiosyncrasies that bring about conflict, Patrick’s desire for routine and order vs. Lisa’s embrace of unpredictability and chaos. One of the key features of the series is Patrick and Lisa’s couples therapy sessions and what is great that we see the therapists discuss and analyse their sessions afterwards as well as see the shortcomings of their own relationship.

So many questions are explored in this series, and some of the characters earn your respect from the get go (Henrick in particular is a character I greatly admire), some drive you insane and some grow on you. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments as well.

How do you create a desirable family life in such complex situations?

How do you communicate with your loved ones and your exes?

How do you manage career aspirations and family life?

How do you raise children in a way that is consistent and fair?

How do you accommodate all generations in a family environment?

How do you manage disappointment and your expectations not being met?

It is a fascinating, hilarious and warm series and I whole heartedly recommend watching it.

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