Real Humans (Matrix Pt 2)

The Brits aced “Real Humans,” but the original Swedish drama drops you into a world transformed by AI, from the neighbor’s bedroom to the dark corners of shadow government.

In my prior post, I wrote about the value of immersing yourself in Swedish movies and TV shows. Here I’m writing about the first show I bought, “Äkta Människor,” a 2012 sci-fi drama from Sveriges Television (SVT) which ran two seasons. I stumbled upon this series during the credits of the derivative BBC series “Real Humans.” *

The BBC adapted “Äkta Människor” into what is essentially a cop show. It's much better than almost all of the British cop shows, but much of the sci-fi heft was abandoned. I really like the BBC series. I recommend watching it, to gain an edge for when you dive into the Swedish version.

In contrast, SVT deeply explored what might happen when artificially intelligent robots (“hubots”) disrupt the workplace, the home, intimate relationships, crime, and even politics in a near-future Sweden. The hubots are smart (mostly), youthful, beautiful and strong. Lots of bad things happen, and the hubots aren't always the bad guys.

I hope that’s enough to hook you. But if sci-fi absolutely isn't your thing, find a Swedish show with closed-captions in your favorite genre, keeping in mind the following.

“Äkta Människor” is a great starting point for a couple of reasons. First, it’s ten episodes, enough time to develop a real sense of the characters and their world. This makes it comfortable and familiar, even though it’s in a foreign language. Second, an action- and event-driven drama like this one will tend to be easier to understand than a comedy. Except maybe a rom-com. Anyway.

As of this writing, I believe that a copy of “Äkta Människor” Season 1 is available (used) on Amazon UK. (Season 2 may be there also, but doesn’t have Swedish closed-captions. In a future post, I’ll present a method for integrating Swedish subtitles when they aren’t included on the disc.)

It’s also available on YouTube for free. The video quality is good, and the version with Swedish subtitles may still be there.

Look to my next post for a few pointers, gleaned from my first time watching “Äkta Människor." That post will give you a simple framework for getting the most out of whichever movie or show you start with.

* "Real Humans" Season 1 is on Amazon Prime; Season 2 isn’t on Prime yet, I believe.

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