Anandi Mishra on “Anxious People” in Times of Crisis

How a Swedish Whodunnit Speaks to Pandemic Life in Delhi (and the World)

Anandi Mishra on Anxious People in Times of Crisis

By Anandi Mishra

In December, as COVID-19 cases again rose to unprecedented numbers, Delhi shifted gears and instated weekend curfews. At home, arrested by a now-familiar sense of ennui, I escaped to present day Sweden. Over the course of a weekend, I watched the six-part series Anxious People, Netflix’s Swedish whodunit based on Fredrik Backman’s 2019 novel of the same name. The series erased my sense of place, instantly lifting me out of Delhi and transporting me into the snowy city of Södertälje. In its huddle of fretful characters, worried about an entirely different set of issues than my own, I found strange company.

The story follows a father-son police duo, Jim and Jack (Dan Ekborg and Alfred Svensson), as they try to track down the culprits behind two incidents: the first an attempted bank robbery, the second a hostage situation during an open house in an apartment building. Jim and Jack interrogate the eight hostages, trying to zero in on the suspect, but thrumming beneath the surface is a strangeness on the victims’ part, who are clearly trying to hide something.

The investigation serves a twofold purpose: we learn how the hostage situation has affected the characters, while also getting an invaluable peek into each of their private lives—including Jim and Jack, who are at odds over the reappearance of Jack’s sister, a habitual drug user who now claims to be sober. It soon becomes clear that the show’s rather straightforward title wraps multiple mysteries within itself: the characters are not merely anxious about being held hostage, but also due to the multiple problems in their own lives. What unravels then is a sensitive, sometimes funny, unspooling as tempers run high and the truth is finally revealed. Read the full review at LitHub.

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