“How It All Began” kicks off a flirty game of dares in this new Swedish workplace dramedy.
This recap of Love & Anarchy season 1, episode 1, “How It All Began”, contains spoilers.
Meet Sofie. She’s the happily married mother of Isabell and Frank, and she’s starting a new job. “How It All Began” opens by giving a sense of her chaotic morning routine, which includes adding dentist appointments to the family calendar, drinking coffee, and slyly masturbating in the bathroom while putting her makeup on. She’s a multitasker.
Sofie’s new job is modernizing Lund & Lagerstedt, an old-fashioned publishing house; she’s a consultant tasked with developing “future strategies”, which is, in other words, making sure old analog businesses don’t go under by being outpaced by their more contemporized rivals. During her initial briefing — Sofie’s pretty no-nonsense in business, it seems — she meets Max, a temporary IT technician who immediately annoys her by drilling too loudly. The relationship between these two is going to form the crux of Love & Anarchy, although we don’t get an immediate sense of where it’s going.
There’s a division among the company, a clear sense of old traditionalism resisting the march of modernity. An argument breaks out over the provocative debut novel of a risque author writing about gay sex and drugs, and it’s immediately clear how Sofie sees the publishing industry — instead of solely determining who to publish based on an editor’s thoughts on the manuscript, she suggests using an app to gauge user interest and make tweaks that widen the manuscript’s demographic. In so doing she’d make an explicitly queer story appeal to the straight-male demo, thus presumably working entirely against its artistic attention, but this doesn’t occur to her.
There’s also another division: Male and female. This becomes apparent when Tove-Lee, the author of that provocative gay-sex novel, comes in to sign her contract and reveals that one of the publisher’s most profitable authors sent her a d*ck pic. Friedrich sides with his old money-making pal, and so too, in the interest of the company’s bottom line, does Sofie, but Denise is staunchly against the idea that he should continue to be published. The conflict is deeply felt. The notion of believing women at face value is raised and dismissed immediately by Friedrich; newer social politics being alien to him, obviously.
Sofie, it seems, has an addiction to pornography. After masturbating in the morning she masturbates in the evening; the next day at work, she masturbates in the office, which Max witnesses and takes a picture of and immediately brings up to her over coffee the next day. I guess she should have been nicer to him, at least by his logic. Naturally, he resumes his drilling.
This is the least of Sofie’s problems. Her dad, Lars, gets caught “shoplifting”, but it was really just a misunderstanding over his resistance to the new digital system. Lars has had a prior breakdown, and Sofie obviously feels responsible for his wellbeing. Johan, her husband, tries to set her mind at ease, and also recommends she fires Max after she says he’s been driving her crazy, although she obviously doesn’t explain why. She figures that might be a good idea.
“How It All Began” makes it clear that Max has a thing for older women — or perhaps just women in general. In exchange for keeping the picture of Sofie private, he wants her to take him out to lunch. While there, he asks her why she’d take the risk in pleasuring herself at work, but they’re interrupted by Elin, the wife of Johan’s best friend. Max doesn’t seem particularly put off by the revelation that Sofie’s married. But he’s a bit put-out when, after letting Sofie delete the picture from his phone, she decides she’s keeping it until he’s forced to do something in the office after coercing her into taking him for lunch. When he tries to snatch the phone back, she cries for help in the fast-food joint where they’re dining. The game has begun.
When she gets back to the publishing house, it turns out that Tove-Lee has released the d*ck pic Claes sent her, so the company is now in hot water over working with him. In response, the company Instagram posts a clit pic, though there’s no telling who it might have been. Max suggests ISIS or the Russians, while Sofie smirks in the background, knowing it was him. She gives him his phone back and laughs in the bathroom, but she also touches up her makeup — and has an idea. She hands Max her favorite lipstick and lets him know that he’ll have to come up with something for her to do to get it back since she so desperately wants it. And we’re off to a racing start, ladies and gentlemen.
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