Swedish TV Shows

Best Swedish TV shows: The top Swedish TV series that you must watch

Scandinavian culture is incredibly popular in many parts of the world, fueled by a resurgent minimalism movement and a healthy dose of good TV. Sweden is the region’s largest country, and while its population of 10.4 million is relatively small, the Swedes’ cultural output is pretty phenomenal. So, what are the best Swedish TV shows?

In recent years, Swedish TV has reached the screens of many people globally. Streaming services like Netflix and HBO are partially to thank; they have made these shows more accessible than ever.

And while some were commissioned by some of Swedish TV’s biggest broadcasters, others have become successful after being created in other ways.

You will find a huge selection of Swedish TV shows in almost every genre you could imagine. Many focus on Stockholm and its surrounding areas, while others are located in numerous corners of this magnificent country.

This article will cover some of the best Swedish series that should be on your radar. You’ll learn a little about their plot, but don’t worry — we won’t reveal any spoilers! You will also find out where you can watch them, plus more.

Sweden and popular culture: a match made in heaven

Many people view Sweden as a master in soft power. The country remained neutral during World War II and, until recently, hadn’t entertained the idea of joining NATO. What it lacks in political prowess, however, it has made up for in its impact on popular culture.

You probably already know about the country’s musical exports, such as ABBA. But the Swedes’ willingness to try new things has also resulted in many excellent movies and television series coming from this corner of the globe.

Commercial TV in Sweden is a relatively new phenomenon, having only made moves in the country during the last 40 years. The country’s national broadcaster, Sveriges Television (SVT) — which is the country’s equivalent to the BBC in the UK — also only came to be in 1978.

You will quickly notice that many of the most popular Swedish TV shows were created in the 21st century. Since the 2000s, many programs have made significant moves globally. Some are dubbed in English, but many have maintained the Swedish language they were originally filmed in.

Where can I watch popular Swedish TV shows?

If you’re reading this from Sweden and you happen to live in the country, SVT Play is an excellent starting point for finding Swedish series.

In addition to the Swedish shows mentioned in this article, you will find a wide range of others worth watching. You can sift through programs in multiple genres; a small selection of the listings are also available outside of Sweden.

If you aren’t based in Sweden, don’t worry — you’ll find plenty of places to watch the best Swedish TV shows. Netflix is a helpful place to start; you’ll find many of the country’s most popular programs there and available in multiple countries.

In some instances, you might be able to dub them into your mother tongue — though we recommend watching them in Swedish for the best possible experience.

Away from Netflix, you might also find success on HBO. Like Netflix, you’ll need to purchase a subscription before you can gain access.

Once you’re in, however, you’ll find various Swedish TV shows; if you can’t find something that interests you, consider typing “Swedish” into the search bar to get all the main results.

In addition to the streaming services mentioned above, you might also find some luck in watching Swedish TV series on Amazon Prime Video. Again, the best option for finding what you’re looking for is to type “Swedish” into the search bar; all of the programs available in your region will show up.

The best Swedish TV series

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics surrounding Swedish TV series, we’re ready to start looking at the best programs. In the sections below, you’ll learn about all of the best Swedish TV shows to watch when you’ve next got a bit of time to yourself.

The Bridge

TV series title in Swedish: Bron

Year first broadcasted: 2011

Director: Hans Rosenfeldt

Number of seasons: 4

Where to stream: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video

The Bridge is arguably the most popular Swedish TV show ever to cross international waters. The series is largely filmed in Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city. However, parts of it are also filmed in the Danish capital Copenhagen — which lies on the other side of the Øresund Bridge.

The Bridge starts when a body is discovered on the Øresund Bridge, which turns out to be the first of many murder mysteries that Swedish and Danish detectives must solve.

Saga Norén, played by Swedish actress Sofia Helin, is the series’ main character. Martin Rohde, played by the Dane Kim Bodnia, is another important detective in the program.

You will learn a lot of Swedish by watching the Bridge, and many parts of the show also feature in Danish. The detectives speak in their respective mother tongues to each other.

Bonus Family

TV series title in Swedish: Bonusfamiljen

Year first broadcasted: 2017

Director: Felix Herngren

Number of seasons: 4

Where to stream: Netflix

Bonusfamiljen is a relatively new Swedish TV show that enjoyed a good level of success internationally and in Sweden. The series follows a selection of families that have somehow managed to intertwine with one another.

In the main one, the two parents have recently divorced — with the characters ending up in various relationships that merge and clash.

In Bonusfamiljen, the main adult characters have children — and their lives are pretty different from one another. The series lasts for four seasons, and you can stream its episodes in most countries that you can access Netflix from.

The series is set in Stockholm and its suburbs.

Love and Anarchy

TV series title in Swedish: Kärlek och Anarki

Year first broadcasted: 2020

Director: Lisa Langseth

Number of seasons: 2

Where to stream: Netflix

Love and Anarchy premiered on Netflix toward the end of 2020, and it made for ideal winter lockdown viewing. If you watched Bonusfamiljen, you might notice that the actress Ida Engvoll is featured as one of the characters in that; she’s the lead one in this series.

She plays the role of the consultant Sofie, who works in Stockholm and has to balance a career with a stressful marriage that tests her resolve more and more throughout the series.

The show follows Sofie and Max, who is interning at the company she works for. It begins with them placing dares on each other, which become more extreme as the series progresses.

The duo start to get feelings for one another before Sofie’s marriage breaks down at the end of the first season. The second season began premiering in June 2022.

Young Wallander

TV series title in Swedish: Young Wallander

Year first broadcasted: 2020

Director: Ben Harris

Number of seasons: 2

Where to stream: Netflix, Amazon Prime

Wallander is one of the most popular Swedish TV shows, along with being a popular book. Young Wallander is a modern-day twist on that series, and it’s set in the Southern Swedish city of Malmö.

Kurt Wallander, played by Adam Pålsson, is the series’s lead detective and main character.

Young Wallander follows the detective as he aims to solve a gruesome murder, which sparked anti-immigration protests; while trying to arrest someone at those demonstrations, Wallander himself is attacked.

As the series progresses, the detective must face various trials and tribulations to try and solve the initial murder.

While the series is set in Malmö, much of Young Wallander was actually filmed in Vilnius — the Lithuanian capital that was also the shooting location for the popular Chernobyl series. 

Snabba Cash

TV series title in Swedish: Snabba Cash

Year first broadcasted: 2021

Director: Jesper Grandsladt

Number of seasons: 1

Where to stream: Netflix

Snabba Cash is another Swedish drama series that has been featured on Netflix in recent years. Set in Stockholm, the show follows the main character Leya — who the actress Evin Ahmad plays the role of.

The program follows Leya’s unintentional path into the world of criminality, following her use of money from her brother-in-law — who is a drug trafficker — to pay off investors for a company she started.

Following that initial introduction, Leya finds herself in the world of criminality. Part of that was due to her brother-in-law, but she also falls in love with someone who she doesn’t know is a drug trafficker.

Over time, Leya has to fight to get herself out of this underworld she has been lured into. Only one series has been broadcasted so far, but a second one is planned for 2022.

Quicksand

TV series title in Swedish: Störst av Allt

Year first broadcasted: 2019

Directors: Per-Olav Sørensen and Lisa Farzandeh

Number of seasons: 1

Where to stream: Netflix

Quicksand is based on a popular novel written by Malin Persson Giolito. The story starts at a school in a suburb just outside of Stockholm’s city center, where Maja Norberg — played by the actress Hanna Ardéhn — is the perpetrator of a shooting.

Norberg’s best friend is killed in the shooting, as are many of her classmates.

Quicksand follows the aftermath of the shooting, including the court procedures. The story aims to look at the events that led to the eventual attack, and it follows Norberg with her ex-boyfriend — Sebastian Fagerman — who is played by Swedish actor Felix Sandman.

The story reveals Fagerman’s difficult relationship with his father, along with highlighting his relationship with Maja. Everything pieces together and gears toward the final verdict, which is revealed at the end of the final show.

Welcome to Sweden

TV series title in Swedish: Welcome to Sweden

Year first broadcasted: 2014

Director: Greg Poelher

Number of seasons: 2

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

If you’re planning to move to Sweden in the near future, Welcome to Sweden is a show you might want to think about watching. While it’s obviously exaggerated, it does provide a bit of an insight into Swedish culture and everything you can expect when moving to the country as a foreigner.

The show received pretty low ratings compared to some of the others mentioned in this article, but we don’t think it’s as bad as many people make out.

The story follows an American named Bruce Evans, played by Greg Poehler. Evans moves to Sweden to be with his Swedish girlfriend, who is called Emma Wiik in the series.

Bruce and Emma lived in New York City prior to their Stockholm move, and Bruce moves to the Swedish capital without a job. He tries various things to help him settle into Scandinavian life.

The series lasted two seasons before it was canceled, but you can watch the episodes from those seasons online. It aired in the US, Sweden, and Indonesia.

Caliphate

TV series title in Swedish: Caliphate

Year first broadcasted: 2020

Director: Goran Kapetanović

Number of seasons: 1

Where to watch: Netflix

To say that Caliphate is a darker series than Welcome to Sweden would be an understatement. The series premiered in 2020 and was produced by SVT. It follows a group of women, with one of the lead characters joining ISIS and moving to Syria — a journey of which she followed him on.

During the program, an ISIS attack on Sweden is incoming. It follows the story of trying to foil the attack, along with highlighting the journey of a cop who does what they can to stop it from occurring. The series was filmed partially in Stockholm but also in Jordan.

Wallander

TV series title in Swedish: Wallander

Year first broadcasted: 2005

Directors: Stephan Apelgren, Anders Engström, Jørn Faurschou, Jonas Grimås, and Leif Magnusson

Number of seasons: 4

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Wallander is one of the most popular Swedish novels written, and it was originally set in Ystad — a picturesque town in Southern Sweden.

In more recent years, the book has been turned into visual entertainment for its fans – and the Wallander TV series is an excellent early example of the Nordic crime genre.

The series follows the main detective Kurt Wallander, who is played by Krister Henriksson. Wallander must solve various murders that take place, with a wide range of bizarre crimes taking place throughout the series.

The show is largely produced in Ystad, helping it to bring the words of the original book to life.

Wallander is one of the more extensive series on our list, and it aired from 2005 until 2013. The entire collection has 32 episodes.

Before We Die

TV series title in Swedish: Innan vi Dör

Year first broadcasted: 2017

Directors: Simon Kaijser, Kristian Petri, Kristina Humle, and Jonas Westbom

Number of seasons: 2

Where to watch: SVT Play, Amazon Prime Video

Another of the best Swedish TV shows to double up as a crime thriller is Before We Die, which is better-known in Sweden as Innan vi Dör. The series first aired in 2017 and was very popular in Sweden, along with enjoying success in other parts of the world as well.

The story starts with the kidnapping of a policeman, and it follows the story of a cop named Hanna. Sven was investigating a murder involving a motorcycle gang at the time of being kidnapped.

The second season of Before We Die was announced in 2018, with the aim of bringing it to fruition in the autumn of the following year.

Sandhamn Murders

TV series title in Swedish: Morden i Sandhamn

Year first broadcasted: 2010

Directors: Marcus Olsson, Niklas Ohlson, Mattias Ohlsson

Number of seasons: 8

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Sandhamn is a town in Stockholm’s beautiful archipelago, which makes it the perfect setting for a dark Nordic crime drama. Like Wallander, this series was based on a popular book — and it has been going strong for over a decade so far.

The main detective is called Nora Linde, and she is played by the actress Alexandra Rapaport.

The early seasons of Sandhamn Murders are pretty short, with three episodes in each of the first five. The ones since have been in a lot more depth, however.

In the first six seasons, Thomas Andreasson — played by Jakob Cedergren – was the lead detective. For the two since then, he was replaced by Alexander Forsman — played by the Norwegian Nicolai Cleve Boch.

Like Wallander, Sandhamn Murders follows a series of killings rather than focusing on a single crime.

Thin Ice

TV series title in Swedish: Tunn Is

Year first broadcasted: 2020

Directors: Cecilie A. Mosli, Thale Persen, and Guðjón Jónsson

Number of seasons: 1

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Thin Ice is largely Swedish, but the series is a cross-Nordic effort – with help from various French actors as well. The program premiered in 2020 and is based in Greenland, which is officially part of the Kingdom of Denmark.

The series begins with an advisor to the Swedish minister getting kidnapped on a ship, which ensues an investigation.

Over the first season, things escalate. A series of murders and abductions take place, with a whole host of political dramas also thrown into the mix.

The first season, which is the only one at the time of writing in July 2022, features eight episodes in total.

The Mother Goose

TV series title in Swedish: Gåsmamman

Year first broadcasted: 2015

Directors: Richard Holm, Joakim Eliasson, and Olof Spåk

Number of seasons: 4

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Gåsmamman is another Swedish TV series featuring Alexandra Rapaport, who plays the leading role in this gripping production.

Playing the role of a woman named Sonja, she finds herself needing to repay the debts acquired by her husband — who was murdered. Prior to the drama, she had lived a quiet life in the suburbs of Stockholm.

The series is based on a Dutch television series that premiered earlier in the 21st century, known as Penoza. During Gåsmamman, Sonja is forced to travel to Norway and undergo various other ordeals in an attempt to keep her family safe from danger.

As a result of her performance throughout the series, Rapaport won an award in 2017 for the best female actress at that year’s Kristallen Awards.

Swedish TV series are great for learning the language

So, there you have it — that’s our list of the best Swedish TV shows. While you will certainly find the standard Nordic Noir, Swedish television is much more varied than you might believe.

Many of the shows on this list have become popular in several countries outside of the Nordic region, with many achieving particular success in the UK.

If you have a Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription, you will find the vast majority of the shows we’ve listed on either of those platforms.

The programs often come with English subtitles, making them an excellent starting point if you’re looking to improve your Swedish language skills.

You will quickly pick up on several commonly-used words, and it’s also useful for picking up certain regional dialects.

The programs we’ve listed in this article are merely the tip of the iceberg; you’ll find plenty on some of the world’s most popular streaming platforms.

We spoke about the Øresund Bridge in one of the series we mentioned earlier, and to say it’s an engineering marvel is an understatement.

This bridge connecting Sweden and Denmark handles millions of passengers annually, with many people commuting across borders.

Why not learn more about it here?

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