There is a Dutch television series for every stage of life. For those who just had a baby there was Tropic years from BNNVARA, the last episode was last Sunday. Jelka van Houten and Henry van Loon (also a couple with a baby in real life) play writer Jelle and presenter Rosa who just had a baby and therefore lack of sleep, no sex and fuss about who should do what.

    If your marriage did not survive the arrival of one or more children, look at josh, van Omroep Max, episode 5 (of 6) was also last Sunday. Jos, played by Diederik Ebbinge, is a recently divorced man with two adult daughters, a pen pal in a Thai prison and a new girlfriend. He has worked for the same bank for 26 years.

    Did the marriage last, but the body and the relationship slowly deteriorate? In Best before from AvroTros on Thursday evening, all the problems of middle age are discussed. Ricky Koole and Ruben van der Meer are the parents Anna and Paul with two adolescent children. She acts strange and appears to be in the transition, he has to get used to that.

    Anyone who manages to make it to his (early) retirement and who by then also has a marriage can recognize himself on Friday evening in second Hans, also from Omroep Max. Stefan de Walle and Jacqueline Blom are Hans and Marleen, with one daughter and a grandson. Marleen is still working, Hans has to find out who he is without his job in the garden center.

    So the circle is complete. There were already two series for the following phases, taking care of parents with dementia and then becoming elderly and/or demented yourself: Maud and Babs and The secret life of Hendrik Groen (both from Omroep Max). The series that are now running, or (almost) finished, are well watched, sometimes with more than a million viewers (second Hans). Alone jos scores slightly lower. Is that because that series is the least ‘shape-retaining’ and seems a bit more experimental? Episode 5 is hardly about Jos, but about his ex-wife Ineke, who participates in a dating program. That results in a nice parody of the TV program First Dates† The three other series follow the pattern of a romantic-comedic drama. Or maybe we don’t like watching a sympathetic, but a bit sad divorced man?

    Dutch recognizability

    Furthermore, I mainly saw similarities between the series. In all four it revolves around a hetero couple. People live in detached houses, and even after the divorce Jos buys something new as if there was no housing crisis. Only Hans and Marleen out Second Hans live in a fairly modest terraced house. Much discomfort is washed away with drink: wine, beer, and sometimes something stronger. Young mother Rosa, middle-aged mother Anna and divorced mother Ineke each experience an indulgence with too much alcohol and drinking buddies that are too young. The need for ‘me-time’ or ‘time for myself’ occurs in every series, for man and woman, so that seems to say something about this time. The young parents are even trying a ‘pretend divorce’, where they are each ‘free’ from home and child two days a week.

    Various uncomfortable sex scenes and embarrassing scenes: parents have sex on the couch, and are caught. Adolescents are getting ready, but there’s a mother on the couch. The dialogues are good, but you really hope that people don’t talk to each other like that in real life, are as harsh and unkind as Rosa from one series and Anna from the other to their mothers. What is also striking: the Dutch recognisability. There is some diversity in it – actor Eric van Sauers is in two of the four series – but otherwise it is cycling (sometimes a child on the back with his feet in the luggage bag), babysitting parents, treating at school and fiddling about the man- female relationship. And in the latter lies the most important similarity. It is always about people who lose each other for a while and find each other again. Regardless of the stage of life.

    ttn-32