Relationship: Sofie Rydman and Max Järvi
Fandom: Love & Anarchy, a.k.a. Kärlek & Anarki (TV Series, 2020- )
Where to Watch: Netflix (U.S.)
Time Investment: 8 (half-hour) episodes
Recommended for: Fans of The Office‘s Jim/Pam and other workplace romances
The best new series you probably haven’t watched is Netflix’s Love & Anarchy. How do I know? Because the first few times this sexy Swedish drama popped up as a recommendation on the app, I myself scrolled right on by it. Not for me, I judged based solely on its one-line description, which reads: “A married consultant and a young IT tech kick off a flirty game that challenges societal norms—and leads them to re-evaluate their entire lives.” Married consultant? Flirty game? Yeah, no thanks. Hard pass.
And that’s the story of how I almost missed out on something great. The only reason I didn’t is that one of my favorite fan vidders uploaded an attention-grabbing new edit about a couple named Max and Sofie, who turned out to be the stars of Love & Anarchy. This lovingly crafted compilation of romantic scenes from the series succeeded where Netflix’s marketing efforts had not, intriguing me enough to search out and press play on the first episode. Then the next one. And then another after that, until I had binge-watched all 8 episodes. In one weekend. Whoops!
Love & Anarchy, it turns out, is awesome. A perfect pandemic escape, one that I now feel duty-bound to share with you too. So here ya go: The 10 reasons you simply must let Love & Anarchy add a li’l spice to your weekend…
#1: Season 1 is only eight half-hour episodes.
One of the biggest things this show has going for it is that it’s a low-risk investment. You can breeze through all eight of these short, addictive episodes in about four hours. That’s less time than it will take you to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. Or so I hear.
#2: The subtitles make for a fully immersive experience.
Most of us are guilty of half-watching TV while multi-tasking or, worse, doomscrolling on social media. (Don’t deny it! Our phones have decimated our attention spans.) Love & Anarchy can help you break that bad habit, though, what with it being in Swedish and all. If you choose to eschew the dubbing in favor of reading subtitles, which you absolutely should, then you will be too busy scanning those to do anything else. Before you know it, you won’t be able to tear your eyes away from the drama unfolding at a little indie publishing house called Lund & Lagerstedt.
#3: Love & Anarchy is surprisingly tender.
You might not guess this from the first few minutes of the show, but our protagonists, business consultant Sofie Rydman and IT contractor Max Järvi, develop a sweet, supportive relationship. The antagonism that defines their early interactions as new colleagues at Lund & Lagerstedt—like her yelling at him for making too much noise during office hours, and him blackmailing her with a damning photo—gives way to something like understanding. Thrill seekers to the core, the pair bond by assigning each other increasingly personal dares. From “Walk backward all day” to “Turn your temp job into a full-time position,” what starts as silly, innocuous challenges becomes evidence of a deepening connection. Over the course of the season, you’ll be treated to more and more caring gestures disguised as a reckless game, until the pretext falls away entirely…
#4: Max and Sofie’s journeys are cathartic.
Haven’t you ever wanted to go skinny-dipping in broad daylight at a public pool, or to stride into work dressed like Cyndi Lauper? No? Well, Max and Sofie do, and it’s a joy to watch them start living (and loving) more boldly and authentically throughout the course of the show.
#5: Did I mention the age difference?
Good news, everyone: Love & Anarchy is a younger man/older woman romance! Sofie’s in her mid-30s and starting to wonder if she made a huge mistake in marrying a man who has never supported her dreams and often seems embarrassed by her, not to mention her eccentric father. Then there’s Max, who’s in his 20s, or about the same age that Sofie was when she settled down and started a family. He’s the type of guy—dreamy, soulful, artistic—that she totally would have gone for back then, if she weren’t so intent on being the exact opposite of her dad and establishing a “normal” life for herself. But maybe it’s not too late… Especially since, you know, they’re both actually still quite young.
#6: Pining and forbidden feelings abound.
Remember how I said up top that the idea of a married consultant playing a flirty game with an IT guy was an extreme turn-off? Well, that’s only because I hadn’t found ways to justify it to myself! Just kidding. Mostly. No, but seriously, once you get to know Sofie’s husband, Johan, you won’t mind so much. He’s the worst: obsessive, controlling, narcissistic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that excuses Sofie’s infidelity, but it does make you a little bit more sympathetic to her situation. Plus, it’s fiction, so real-life rules don’t apply.
#7: This show is sexy. EUROPEAN sexy.
Game of Thrones made waves with its gratuitous female nudity and sexposition scenes, which were almost always about sensationalism, not story. Aesthetically pleasing, perhaps, but devoid of any real emotional resonance. Love & Anarchy, by contrast, is a master class in erotic romance. When main characters Max and Sofie get naked, and they do, their full-frontal nudity serves an actual purpose in the narrative. Likewise, the show’s disarmingly intimate sex scenes highlight the difference between two people seeking out their own pleasure and a couple making love. The result is way hotter than anything Game of Thrones achieved until that final season, when Arya/Gendry and Jaime/Brienne jumped each other’s bones, but with feelings. Love & Anarchy’s creators understand this vital concept from the start, which isn’t surprising when you consider that European cinema is far, far less prudish about sex than American media. They know what they’re doing, so enjoy it!
#8: It gets the publishing industry hilariously wrong.
This is a petty point, but I’m gonna make it anyway: As someone who actually works at a book publishing house (albeit an American one), I can assure you that all of the characters are terrible at their jobs and it’s highly entertaining. You’ll meet an editorial director who’s afraid to share bad news with his longtime author, a digital consultant who never seems to lay out a plan for digitizing anything, a head of sales & marketing (yes, sales AND marketing!) who’s sleeping with an author she acquired (which is not done by sales OR marketing folks), and an IT guy who’s apparently fine with the company’s social media accounts being hacked. We’re talking The Office levels of incompetence here; Jim Halpert would be proud.
The weirdest part is that in spite of all the nonsensical workplace drama, or maybe because of it, I felt myself invested in the employees of Lund & Lagerstedt by the end of the season. They bring some levity to what’s otherwise a pretty intense drama. I believe you’re gonna feel the same.
#9: The ending will leave you feeling…hopeful?! What a concept!
For a show that involves blackmail and infidelity, Love & Anarchy has a lot of heart. Sofie and Max don’t just fall in love with each other; They learn to love themselves, quirks and imperfections included. While I can’t promise you a fairytale ending for these two, especially since the season finale keeps the door wide open for a second season, I can assure you there’s a Happily for Now (HFN).
#10: It’s a pandemic. What else have you got going on?
The fact that you’ve read this far means you’re desperate to trust me on this, so just do it, okay? Okay.
And with that, I rest my case and await your judgment. So what do you say, plan to give Love & Anarchy a try? Or are you already a card-carrying member of the Sofie and Max Fan Club waiting for more people to get with the program? Share your hot take in the comments! I’d love to chat with more people about this under-the-radar show that deserves more attention.