For the longest time, the rest of the world didn’t know that much about Finland and media produced in the country were almost impossible to find overseas. But thanks to the miracle of streaming television, more and more Finnish productions are becoming popular throughout the world and showing what life is like in the quirky Nordic country. These are some of the best Finnish shows and films streaming on Netflix to binge on.
A look at modern millennial life in Finland, #lovemilla tells the story of a teenage café worker and social media guru juggling her job with the supernatural. The small-town setting is typical of Finnish life and the series deals with many issues that Finnish youth face such as drugs, the job market, and first relationships. But the supernatural elements give it a fun and entertaining edge.
The high-definition remake of the classic stop-motion series was actually a Polish, German, and Austrian co-production, but it is still one of the most beloved versions of the popular Finnish franchise. The stop-motion puppets and colourful backgrounds bring the characters to life as they re-enact the Moomin stories from the books. The 2014 film, Moomins on the Rivera, is also available to stream in some territories.
Deeper Than a Scratch is a more realistic drama about a divorced journalist leaving her job in the city to return to her home village, care for her sick mother, and write her novel. The series raised some controversy when it was first broadcast in Finland due to a subplot about peat production, but it is regardless a great series for fans of drama or those interested in rural Finnish life.
This one is a Finnish series that has already become popular across the globe thanks to Netflix, becoming probably the first Finnish series to receive a US adaptation. Nymphs takes creatures from Greek mythology and transfers them to modern-day Helsinki. While there are some fairly graphic sexual themes, fans are enjoying the series for its different take on mythology and its beautiful aesthetics.
Tapio Mikkonen appears to be living the Finnish dream with a big house in a Helsinki suburb, a successful career as an entrepreneur, and enough cash to spoil his family. But what his neighbours and even his own family don’t realise is that Tapio and his wife are over four million Euros in debt and are funding their lavish lifestyle with criminal activities. Even the family dog is stolen! A great series for anybody interested in Nordic crime dramas.
The Flight Before Christmas and its sequel Little Brother, Big Trouble: A Christmas Adventure continue the Finnish trend of highly unique Christmas movies. The story of a reindeer calf searching for his father, one of Santa’s ‘flying forces’, beautifully depicts the Lapland winter landscapes, while the wolf antagonists are entertainingly scary. Although they still contain heart-warming family messages, these films remain ideal for anyone who has grown tired of the standard Americanised Christmas films.
Another unique Christmas tale, this classic animation combines the Santa story with Lappish mythology, with one of the main characters being a shaman. It is so popular that it is now broadcast in Finland every Christmas. The delightful art style is taken straight from the children’s book that inspired the film.
For those who prefer romance, I Only Have 30 Minutes combines classic romance tropes with real-life social issues. Protagonist Jaana is 35 years old but still living with her parents and working at a fast food restaurant with colleagues who are all at least 10 years younger and consider her a ‘grey moose’. But in pure romantic fashion, her life is turned around by a handsome customer who returns to the restaurant every week to see her.
This is an intense crime thriller that crosses between Helsinki, Stockholm, and St Petersburg. The Underworld Trilogy is so called because it tells the story of a drug smuggling ring from the perspective of three different characters – The Prisoner, The Cop, and The Lawyer. It is a peek into the seedy underbelly of Finnish society that you won’t often hear about.
If you want to find out about Finnish comedy, you can’t get much better than Kummeli, a comedy troupe producing a series of sketch shows. They are often regarded as the ‘Monty Python of Finland’, as they have a similar random style and insane characters. The Vanaja Trilogy is a series of three films focused on their Jukka Vanaja character, a disabled man who was confined to a wheelchair after slipping on soap and who can now inexplicably survive injuries that would kill anybody else.
A modern environmental fable, Tellus is about a radical environmental group named after the Roman Earth goddess who take extreme measures to protect the planet, which has gotten them in trouble with the police. Not only is it an intense drama, it raises important questions about how far we should or should not go to protect the environment.