Review of Anders och Måns (2003)

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Review applies only to the first season.

Two real guys meet odd people, attend various shows and museums, and investigate ideas. A question of etiquette (how far should you push yourself around on an office chair instead of getting up?) snowballs into a furious celebration of the office chair as an alternative to the car: It is obviously cheaper, better for the environment, and faster. And why aren’t more things packed in tubes?

The hosts are often shown editing the show, they use a second camera to film their own crew, the subtitling of foreign languages is extremely suspect, they move their open studio around the whole country, prefiguring a common Youtube technique by walking off the set directly into any other environment, popular faces from established Swedish television help create various illusions (and nostalgic jokes), and so on.

Comedy, frequently non-fictional.

Way back when, the best show on Swedish public radio was Wallraff, named after German muckraker Günter Wallraff. It was a fake-news comedy that made heavy use of the investigative reporting topos for absurd skits, frequently portrayed as having been recorded with hidden microphones. Anders Johansson and Måns Nilsson were on the staff of Wallraff and participated in much of its best work. They later got their own show on radio, called Så funkar det (“That’s how it works”, named after an old series of unrelated children’s books), which had more of an educational slant. The pair, often prompted by listeners, would investigate everyday mysteries. One result of this is a massive calculation intended to prove why otters must not live forever, in exacting detail.

Some skits from Wallraff were recycled into Så funkar det. As the radio show became successful, the guys got this concurrent television series. It, too, was successful enough for a second season. In it, the audience gets a better understanding of how TV is actually made, an ambition descended from Så funkar det married to the often bumbling and biased reporting topos—and the absurd fictitiousness—of Wallraff, as well Swedish public television’s BBC-inspired “public service” ambition, of which this show makes many amusingly idiosyncratic interpretations. The rest of the show is all about the diverse nerdiness of the hosts.

Anders and Måns once described themselves on radio as too ugly for television. A DIY atmosphere is present in much of the show, as is a certain anachronistic Pythonesque niceness. The pair opt for absurdity over irony or embarrassment. Some portions are provocatively dull and detailed givings of notice to deservedly obscure stuff: it’s intentional. These guys deserve their slow rise to cultish fame in one small Scandinavian country.

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