Rita

Just ask her to bend over her desk and see what happens.

Just ask her to bend over her desk and see what happens.

Strangest show my wife and I have ever seen. It’s all on her btw. She likes the Scandinavian shows on Netflix. Things I can’t watch and one I could. (Annika!) She loves the slow, turgid plots, the incomprehensible back stories, the utter lack of action of any kind, the pretend ascendancy of women in the administrative and management roles, the Germanic coldness of the sets, and the good looks of most of the men. Unless it’s all about the good looks of the men and her facility at reading subtitles, which far surpasses mine. “What did Annika say right before she whipped off her top?” And then she gives me the look we all know, which says you’re old enough to read subtitles by yourself. Sorry. For my most of my life, I avoided Ingemar Bergman films because I thought she should have left Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart and I was aggrieved.

Anyhow. I keep scouting new Scandinavian dishes for her TV palate. I found one called “Rita.” She’s a middle school teacher in Denmark, available on Netflix and to every male who notices her sprayed on jeans.

Surprise! Unlike other Scandinavians, she’s blonde, beautiful, and impossible to guess as to age.

She has three children approaching adulthood, but that doesn’t stop her from having ferocious sex with the dimwit principal, who loves her and can’t get past fourth base with her. She’s not interested in relationships. But she does like the word ‘Fuck,’ which sounds and means pretty much like it does in our country.

She also hates her mother. And the controlling bitch of a teacher she reports to.

Who she blows off all the time because her blonde bombshell daughter is an idiot, her oldest son is about to marry a shrew and her youngest son is gay but refusing to admit it.

Did I mention that the show is a comedy? With frequent softcore porn interludes. I mean, she’s a good teacher, but she’s horny as a mink. And her school looks like an Ikea experiment gone wrong.

Yeah, I know. It kind of sounds like an American sitcom, except for the frantic sex in the men’s room. But it isn’t like that at all. It’s actually kind of endearing.

Why? There’s no leering, wink-wink nudge-nudge element that makes all American sitcoms unwatchable. Not every character is trying to be smarter and bitchier than every other. Not every minute is a punchline building like a giant fart.

It’s, uh, refreshing. Not 22 minutes but most of an hour. We’re so old that Hollywood sex scenes just annoy us with their loopy-goopy gauzy romanticism. Not that we’re prudes. Just not into gauzy anymore. Rita is into plain old fucking. Which gets tiresome in a hurry, but the scenes don’t last long and there’s no tinkly-dinkly music.

And here’s the real difference between this show and American sitcoms. You kind of like her.

Flawed, difficult, a bit of a slut, but good at her job, which is teaching. Which she defines as “protecting kids from what their parents do to them.” The bureaucrats dislike her for that. We tend to like her for it.

One thought on “Rita

  1. The best (or my favorite) of the Scandinavian shows was Lillyhamer with Stevie Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen’s band. The show’s on hiatus because of scheduling conflicts, what his musical obligations, but it was a better than average fish-out-of-water story. I think shows in snowy settings tend to work so well because people tend to be trapped inside for long periods, forced into conversations and all kinds of interdependence, even and especially with people they don’t like. I’m thinking particularly the first couple seasons of Northern Exposure.

    That actress looks vaguely like Maria Bartiromo, the money honey who Joey Ramone pined for so winsomely in song.

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