In 2016, HBO Europe began producing original series in Scandinavia. There are three in works, one of which focuses on a small ice-hockey team in Sweden. Now that series, Beartown, has a February release date for the United States.
According to HBO, Beartown is based on Fredrik Backman’s bestselling novel of the same name. The show explores the role a junior hockey team plays in a small community, as well as "the hope, the secrets that could tear the town apart, the courage it takes to go against the group and the consequences of how we raise our children." The show will debut on Feb. 22 on HBO and HBO Max and feature a dramatic storyline.
The synopsis states that a small-town junior ice-hockey team has a shot at winning Sweden’s national semi-finals, placing "all the dreams of the locals" on the shoulders of a group of teenage boys. Their burden "becomes the catalyst" for a violent act that leaves a young girl traumatized. There are accusations made, which travel through Beartown and affect every resident. The trailer shows this young girl coming face-to-face with one of the hockey players and holding him at gunpoint in the snow.
"We fell in love with Beartown the first time we read it," Bonnie Skoog Feeney and Mattias Arehn, producers at Filmlance International, said in a joint statement to Variety in 2019. "It is a story you feel in both your stomach and your heart. Backman has created a universe with characters who give everything – for their town, for their sport and for their children." Feeney and Arehn added that they wanted to "create a drama where everything is at stake, where we see and feel all of the different sides of humanity — not only in the characters we are depicting, but in ourselves as well."
The ice-hockey drama stars Ulf Stenberg (Before We Die), Aliette Opheim (Thicker Than Water), Tobias Zilliacus (Gåsmamman), Miriam Ingrid (Day Trip), and Oliver Dufåker. Emmy® nominee Anders Weidemann (30 Degrees in February), Antonia Pyk (Blue Eyes), and Linn Gottfridsson (Arne Dahl) wrote the five-episode series. Peter Grönlund (Goliath) served as the director.
Beartown makes its way to the United States after initially premiering in Europe. The show debuted across HBO Europe territories in October 2020 to mixed reviews on IMDB. Some fans declared the program a "perfect drama" while others said that the book "was much better." Now Beartown will be available everywhere for an entirely new group of viewers.