Quicksand is a heartbreaking tale of a codependent teen romance that ends in the most tragic way possible. Based on the Swedish YA book by Malin Persson Giolito, the show opens on the immediate aftermath of a school shooting. We hear the shots and screaming as the camera pans over anonymous legs, feet, and pools of blood, finally resting on the shocked and bloodied (but alive) face of Maja Norberg, a pretty high school senior. We follow Maja through her post trauma procedures, ending in not a hospital but a jail. Maja is under arrest for murder and incitement to murder.

 Maja and Sebastian’s Relationship Is Told in Flashbacks

From there, the story is told mostly in flashbacks that begin the summer before, when Sebastian Fagerman, son of Sweden’s richest man, transfers to Maja’s school for senior year. Sebastian lasers in on Maja and launches a charm offensive that I challenge any woman, much less a 17-year-old girl, to resist. Maja is a good student, with dreams of attending college in the U.S. She doesn’t understand what Sebastian sees in her, but we do.

Turns out Sebastian is a ne’er do well with a worsening drug addiction. He dotes on Maja, but ditches school and is rude to her friends. Maja’s parents are notably permissive, which seems odd in the show, but is better explained in the book. Sebastian lives with his absentee father, who when he is home either ignores or verbally abuses Sebastian. Maja begins to feel like she is the only person who loves Sebastian, and therefore is responsible for his well-being, even though she wants to leave him.

 Maja’s Court Case Trudges On

As their relationship unravels in flashbacks, Maja’s court case trudges on in the present. Sebastian was definitely the shooter, but evidence shows that Maja fired a second gun that day as well.  The question is why, and at whom. And how did it come to this? The answer is sadder than we originally suspect. One of the frustrating things about the show is that Maja doesn’t say much in her defense while being questioned. She doesn’t profess her innocence, claiming she doesn’t remember anything after walking into school that day.

 Foreign Crime Drama’s Take

Despite feeling like the show is deliberately withholding information in order to craft a more dramatic ending, I liked Quicksand. It moves at a good clip, and the performances are engaging. It helps to remember that it is based on a young adult novel. With that in mind, I did get emotionally involved in the story, horrified yet unable to look away from the train wreck that was unfolding in slow motion before me. Quicksand takes the trope of the charming yet dangerous boyfriend and does some sadder and more realistic things with it than usual. I can see that this show isn’t for everyone, and probably skews more toward women.  Some people might roll their eyes at the first-world problems of the children of the 1%, but if you’ve ever had experience with an addict, there are parts that ring painfully true.