Euro TV shows just keep on a-comin’, and Hungarian drama Aranyélet is one to add to your to-watch list. And you can stream it for free!
Aranyélet (Golden Life), which to my knowledge is the first Hungarian TV series to screen in the US, is HBO Europe’s Hungarian remake of the Finnish drama Easy Living (Helppo Elämä). Acorn TV premiered the original’s first season in the US in 2015, and Netflix US added the complete series of three seasons last year.
While it is a remake, Aranyélet is not a carbon copy of Easy Living set in Budapest.
The series centers on the lives of the Miklósi family – father Attila, aka Atti (Szabolcs Thuróczy, Titanic), mother Janka (Eszter Ónodi, Houdini), and their son Márk (newcomer Renátó Olasz) and daughter Mira (Laura Döbrösi, The Last Kingdom).
Atti is a kind-hearted entrepreneur whose specialty is separating people from their money. The career criminal also does jobs for Endre Hollós (Zsolt Anger, Fapad), his longtime friend, Márk’s godfather, and a crime boss. But now Atti is tired. You can feel how exhausted he is just by looking at him. He’s been scamming for a living for twenty years, and now he wants to go straight, get a proper job, and not have to worry about getting caught and being thrown in prison. But circumstances pull for the status quo.
His wife Janka, a selfish, self-absorbed, conniving, mean-spirited housewife, wants Atti to do whatever it takes to keep her in the upper-middle-class lifestyle she’s accustomed to. Actually, she’d prefer a life of decadent luxury, but hey, they could be one con away from making that happen. Except for Atti’s going legit thing. If he gets a desk job as a civil servant, she can kiss life as she’s known it viszontlátásra. Then she meets a man who can offer her a golden life for real…
As for their children, they couldn’t be more different from each other. Márk is a lying, thieving, pill-popping teenage punk who thinks hustling people is a perfectly acceptable means of acquiring cash. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?) Then he gets himself and Atti into a nasty spot of bother with his recklessness. Mira, on the other hand, is a good girl, a bit naïve about her parents’ lack of integrity until she’s humiliated with the truth. Then the trajectory she’d been on veers in a different direction.
After watching the first two episodes (with plans to binge-watch the rest of Season 1’s eight episodes this weekend), I can say this: Aranyélet is fantastic, better than the original even.
While the plot is similar, script differences in the remake add more depth to the story, and from what I gather from viewers in Hungary, these changes provide a more realistic view of Hungarian life and society. The faster pacing not only moves the story along at a what feels like a more natural clip, it adds to the sense of tension, anxiety, and urgency. And the cinematography is top-notch.
The video below from HBO Europe gives you another look at Season 1, along with what critics overseas had to say about it in advance of the Season 2 premiere.
And here’s the video for Aranyélet: Season 1, Episode 1, which you can watch in its entirety.
Produced by Laokoon Filmgroup, Aranyélet is currently streaming in the US exclusively on Tubi TV. Check it out!
(Note that if you’re watching the series online, you should view it in full-screen mode to prevent a pop-up for the next episode from showing up when there are several minutes remaining in the one you’re watching. If the screen isn’t maximized, the next episode will start playing before the current one ends.)
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