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Pop Culture Advent Calendar, Day 16: Blank

Inspired by NPR, every day (gulp) from December 1st to 24th, I will be highlighting

a pop culture moment from this year that I loved. Today I talk about a low key powerful TV series

Blank, is another Norwegian TV show that I got obsessed with this year. Like the other Norwegian TV show, it follows the story of young people in Oslo. It follows 19 year old Ella, who is listless, a little lost in life and who is not sure what the right path is for her. She has a kind of fine boyfriend, but her internal world is turned upside down when she meets new colleague Simen, and for the first time she gets some clarity on herself. Blank is a really special show. Like Skam, my love for it snuck up on me as the show continued, and as I cared more and more about the characters and their insecurities. The very first scene of Blank is Ella trying to make small talk with a guy at a party, and he turns away from her because (presumably) he would rather talk to his friends, or someone more interesting. That relatability and realism makes Blank and Ella all the more beguiling and compelling because of course, we've all been there. The scene I want to talk about is in the last episode of the season. Ella, who has broken up with her boyfriend Mats, and through her own web of lies, pushed Simen away, and is at her last day of work.

When Simen approaches she apologises to him and gives a beautiful speech about how she much she likes him, how much she cared about him, how she thought that her relationship with her boyfriend was normal and what she was supposed to want, and how sorry she is. Amlie Conesa’s delivery is brilliant here, as it goes from hesitant to quietly sure, and always kind, respectful of the fact that just because she is sorry for hurting him, she still hurt him. Blank is a romantic show, but it's ultimately a story of growth. Ella learns to say what she wants and how she feels about people, rather than letting her actual feelings crop up when she has committed herself to another path, because that ultimately leads to deceit.

A scene preceding her speech, where her colleague is helping make a list of her strengths, sees her disagree with her colleague when he calls her caring, saying she thinks she is only caring so people will like her. And he disagrees quite insistently, which leads to a lovely scene where she says she really cares about him (again, more honesty)! Her lies are not because she is a bad person, rather they are the consequences of not being honest with herself. It's not preachy or moralistic, rather a deeply internal story about how not acknowledging your own needs and wants, or what you don't want or need, can lead to unhappiness. But luckily Ella got her happy ending!

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