Based on 1 review
No reviews yet.Add your rating
Common Sense is a nonprofit organization. Your purchase helps us remain independent and ad-free.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Beartown is a Swedish-language series adapted from the book of the same name by Fredrik Backman about a hockey-obsessed Swedish town and the fallout from an act of sexual violence. This violence is shown in a way that's sympathetic with the victim, and the drama's sympathies are clearly also with the victim, but some characters don't treat the victim well and brush off the violence in the name of competition and "success." Sexual violence is not glamorized, and both the victim and the assailant are humanized. Other violence includes scenes in which a teen is kicked out of a car far from home in subzero weather by an abusive dad and suffers frostbite to his hands, and one in which a character chases another with a gun, catches up, and then the sound of a gunshot is heard as the camera cuts away. Language is frequent, in both Swedish and English: "f--king," "f--k," "s--t," "p---y" (meaning "coward" and sex with women), "assh--e," "son of a bitch," "hell," "damn," and "ass." A teen athlete smokes marijuana in several scenes, including before practice, with no consequence. Scenes take place in bars, with characters drinking and sometimes becoming aggressive. Some parental and other authority figures are strict and rigid to the point of abuse, withholding praise and leveling harsh criticism. Characters flirt and kiss, and a teen boy says hockey players will "get so much p---y" after a game. Adults venerate sports and athletes to the point where they allow bad and even criminal behavior to flourish.
Watch WITH your teen after pre - screening
Report this review
What's the Story?
Adapted from Fredrik Backman's novel of the same name, Swedish-language series BEARTOWN is set in a tiny Swedish town where hockey isn't everything, it's the only thing. As the story picks up, Peter Andersson (Ulf Stenberg) has just come back to his hometown after the death of his young son and is tasked with turning the town's adult hockey team into winners. Instead, he's struck by the talent of Beartown's youth team, and in particular the prowess of player Kevin (Oliver Dufåker), who just happens to live next door to Peter's childhood home and is the son of Peter's longtime nemesis, the brutal and exacting Mats (Tobias Zilliacus). Against all odds, Peter's aggressive coaching style succeeds, and the team's turnaround electrifies the town. But then an act of violence occurs involving a player and Peter's teen daughter Maya (Miriam Ingrid). Is there ever justice in a game played on a playing field that's far from level?
Is It Any Good?
Bleak but somehow seductive, this character-driven book adaptation dives deeply into sports culture, rape culture, and the place where they meet. In the tiny Swedish city of Beartown, the locals are practically obsessed with hockey. They show up to hoot and jeer in the stands, dissect games at the dinner table, treat the town's star players like young gods -- up to and including Peter, who was good enough at hockey to get out of Beartown and become famous, but unlucky enough in life to come crashing back down, reduced to coaching in his hometown while his wife and child grapple with a shadowy tragedy in the past. And then the act of violence that Beartown is built around occurs -- to tell more would be verging into spoiler territory -- and the contours of the town's pecking order is thrown into painfully sharp relief.
Beartown is slow, but beautiful. The visuals of snow-covered mountains and trees cast a spell as the camera roams upwards, away from the ordinary but still awful struggles of the people who make their home there: Peter, whose fierce zeal for hockey masks a brokenness underneath, his teen daughter Maya, who reaches out confidently in a new town for connections and grows to bitterly regret it, and the town's best player Kevin, who's crumbling under terrible forces he can't reveal to anyone. As a portrait of people in crisis, it's grim but wonderful; as a look at a town clawing at dignity through sports, it's chillingly revealing. Beartown's not a lot of fun to watch, but boy, you'll feel it.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the importance of sports in their community and how it compares to Beartown. Are high school games as big a deal in your town as they are on the show? What kind of pressures do athletes (both the ones on TV and the ones in real life) face? What are some of the consequences of those pressures?
Rape is a common plot point in dramas. Why? Think of some TV shows or movies where a rape takes place. What was the point of the rape in the show? To ramp up drama? To motivate a character to do something? To increase sympathy for the victim? Another reason? What is the reason sexual assault is depicted in Beartown?
How is success defined in Beartown? Does the drama uncover the hollowness of this definition? What feels like success to you? What would it look like?
- Premiere date: February 21, 2021
- Cast: Ulf Stenberg, Miriam Ingrid, Oliver Dufåker
- Network: HBO Max
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: March 2, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Friday Night Lights
Poignant football drama scores; OK for teens.
Roll Red Roll
Painful documentary looks at details of notorious rape case.
I May Destroy You
Mature content in powerful portrait of rape's aftermath.
For kids who love sports dramas
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate