The Legacy, created by Danish screen writer Maya Ilsøe, has been met with great reviews from UK audiences. International fans of the show will be happy to know that a second season has recently been aired on the Danish network DR due to its positive reception and it only a matter of time until it will be screen on British television.
We know we are going to be treated to sparse landscapes, colourful architecture and complicated relationships as this seems to be a given with most Nordic programmes. The question is what is it about The Legacy which has got people so gripped by it?
The acting is faultless. The cast shines with established actors from stage and screen. Each character is very different and compliments one another by bringing together different layers to each scene.
So what is The Legacy all about?
We begin the series by finding out that prominent artist and matriarch Veronika Grønnegaard (Kirsten Olesen) has just been informed what appears to be bad news regarding her health. This allows the viewer to understand some of her actions, whilst the other characters are oblivious to her fate. This gives us an overriding desire to want Veronika’s family to sympathise with her. However, the narrative stays true to real-life as the secrets begin to manifest. With the main focus on Veronika, the rest of the characters are introduced at a good pace allowing the viewer to understand their motivations and how we think they will evolve.
On her death bed Veronika summons a young girl called Signe Larsen (Marie Bach Hansen) to her grand Grønnegaard manor, situated on Southern Funen. Signe is a local florist who meets Veronika seemingly by chance when she visits the shop under the guise of a customer. Signe delivers flowers to Grønnegaard as requested. Although, it isn’t until later that night that Signe realises Veronika’s true intentions. Signe is summoned to the estate and is greeted by Veronika who is gravely ill. Veronika states that she is her biological mother and that she is leaving the Grønnegaard estate to Signe. Veronika is rushed to hospital and later dies. Following her unexpected death, the story begins to gather momentum.
The three Grønnegaard siblings Gro (Trine Dyrholm), Emil (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) and Frederik (Carsten Bjørnlund) each have their own complex relationship with their mother which has complicated their lives. As they gather to find out their inheritance, the death bed will unbridles with it animosity and hidden secrets are brought to the surface. We watch how the characters deal with their sudden dis-inheritance, how they engage in various schemes to change the motion, the fall out with their family and the adverse effect it will have on Signe.
As different as the characters are, the actors are just as divergent. The audience is treated to performances from one of Denmark’s most veteran actors Jesper Christensen. Jesper plays Thomas Konrad, who is Veronika’s ex-partner and the father of Gro. He is an old school hippie who brings much light relief to the storyline and to the Grønnegaard family. Trine Dyrholm plays Gro, the eldest sibling who shares her mum’s passion for art. She organises with financial mindset after Veronika’s death to make sure that the estate provides for her career within the art industry, as well as to maintain her chic lifestyle. Carsten Bjørnlund is Frederik; the eldest brother with deep, unresolved issues dating back to his father’s death. He harbours anger towards his mother, his need to be the premier in his home and professional life. As Frederik fights to keep Grønnegaard manor as his birth-rite, we see his nastier emerge.
Emil, played by Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, is the youngest son who has travelled to Asia to fulfil his extravagant dreams and his carefree lifestyle has been financially supported for many years by Veronika. With the threat of losing his stake in the legacy, the construction of a resort in Thailand he has been funding is thrown in jeopardy, together with his relationship with some shady investors. Emil however is likeable and does try to create harmony within the dysfunctional family. Signe Larsen, played by Marie Bach Hansen, is the fateful daughter known as “Sunshine” who was given up by Veronika and adopted at a young age. When Signe discovers this revelation she naturally struggles with the lies she has been told, as well as comprehending what it means to become the heir to the Grønnegaard estate. We see how this affects her relationship between her father John Larsen (Jens Jørn Spottag), adoptive mother Lise Larsen (Anette Katzmann) and boyfriend Andreas Baggesen (Kenneth M. Christensen).
The writers have cleverly intertwined parallel story-lines so each episode offers a new twist to the plot. Adding to this are the supporting actors from outside of the sibling circle who bring just as much importance to the story. The show also exudes dark connotations with a thread of humour at the sheer craziness of how so many people lives have been turned upside down by the legacy. The series ends with a cliff hanger with old and new wounds being opened; building the anticipation for when The Legacy will grace UK screens.
Words by Sarah Surgey