Movie and TV Show

Book To Screen Adaptation: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Book To Screen Adaptation: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Hello friends, it’s Vera here today! Recently, the adaptation of one of my all time favorite books, Anxious People by Fredrik Backman was released on Netflix. After watching it and having some thoughts, I decided to dedicate a whole post to it, which brings us here.

Anxious People was a very quiet release – to me, it seems like it hasn’t really been promoted by Netflix, which is a shame because an adaptation of such a spectacular book deserves more hype. Despite the fact that Netflix releases a wide variety of content made in different parts of the world, with a few exceptions, they seemingly concentrate on promoting American media first and foremost. From what I have seen, a lot of the book’s fans had no idea this show was in the making, while even those that knew about it – like myself – were unsure when it was going to be released.

Like I said, Anxious People is one of my all time favorite novels, so my emotions ranged from incredibly excited to deeply worried. Simply put, I wasn’t sure how certain elements of the novel would – or could – be adapted, especially one particular element of it. After watching the show, my feelings are still a bit mixed, but as a whole, I really liked the adaptation.

That being said, the first episode was rough. After I finished it, I wrote to one of my friends to tell her how disappointed I was and how I wasn’t sure I’d finish the show. My plan was to watch one more episode – there are six altogether – and abandon the show if it wasn’t improving. Thankfully, things started to pick up after the first episode, and I found myself enjoying the show more and more, especially as I let go of my expectations. By the end, I couldn’t stop watching it, despite knowing how it would end based on the book. With that, let us take a look at what worked and what didn’t work in this adaptation.

What Didn’t Work:

  • At first glance, the casting wasn’t to my liking – simply put, this wasn’t how I imagined some of these characters and that put a damper on my enjoyment at first. However, I believe most of the actors did a really good job, so I was able to let go of my misgivings.
  • Some of the changes the creators made meant that the characters didn’t interact as much as they did in the book – I’m thinking especially of the bank robber here – which means that the best part of the book, the unexpected connections between the characters, weren’t as well-written as in the book.
  • Finally, I feel like the plot and the pacing were a bit all over the place. In the book, it was fine to jump between different times, scenes, and characters, but here, these jumps oftentimes felt too rushed.

What Worked Well:

  • Overall, despite the little imperfections, I feel like the show made me similarly emotional to the book, which is a great thing and shows that ultimately, this adaptation was a success in my eyes.
  • As I mentioned above, I found myself unable to stop watching the show as I was really captivated by it. Given the fact that I was already familiar with the story from the book, that’s pretty impressive.
  • I mentioned in the “what didn’t work” section that some of the changes the creators made impacted the story negatively. That being said, other changes were very creative and I was really satisfied by how they were written.

To Conclude:

As you can probably tell from my review above, I did end up enjoying this show for the most part, which is why I rated it 8 out of 10 stars. That being said, I’d be the first to admit that my love for the book and its quirky characters most likely carried into the show, meaning that I’m not sure someone who hasn’t read the book would enjoy the show quite as much as I did. I feel like compared to the book, both the plot and the characterization are a bit weaker in the show, which is a shame.

Let’s chat!

Have you read Anxious People? Have you seen the show or are you planning on seeing it? Unrelated, but have you seen the HBO adaptation of Beartown? I’m interested, but haven’t had the chance to watch it yet.


7 thoughts on “Book To Screen Adaptation: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

  1. Yess I quite liked it too!! Though a different pace than the book would’ve made more sense.. as from first glance we had NO IDEA what was even going on.. and i’d agree with you, I wasn’t keen on the cast either. (I found the jr officer to be quite ugly, tbh, it kinda bothered me visually to watch 😅)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the show too, Kristina!! Yeah, I agree, I feel like the way it started off was very messy and all over the place – I probably wouldn’t have continued the show had I not read the book. Even having read the book, I was sure I’d dislike it after the first episode, haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve not read Nervous people and didn’t even see that it was adapted on Netflix. They really need to do better about promoting things on there, they always show me the same old things which are their big shows like The Witcher. I admit that one thing I hate with adaptations is when the case doesn’t fit the idea you have in your head. I admit, when I’m reading, I don’t always have a totally clear image of what everyone looks like, not like I have a particular person in mind but I do notice when the face I’m offered doesn’t fit. It sounds like it was a bit of a frustrating adaptation, it did a lot of things well but I suppose no adaptation can ever be perfect. I’ll have to check it and the book out.


  3. Hi Vera! I enjoyed reading your review of the series adaptation of Anxious People. I had the chance to watch it right after finishing the last page of the novel, and I agree with most of your insights. As a fan of Fredrik Backman’s novels, I sort of also do not approve of the casting for the series. I feel like they were not able to portray the characters from the novel and how they are supposed to be brought to life in the series. I also feel less emotional bond between the characters in the series than the novel. Aside from the storyline, I can also say that how they ended the story in the series seems a bit off and far from what actually happened in the novel.


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