The Norwegian series Eyewitness (Øyevitne) is a mix of gay romance, family drama and police procedural. Gay teens witness a murder but stupidly keep it secret. One teen’s foster mother, the Sheriff, leads an investigation. She’ll uncover corrupt cops, foolish informants and rival gang leaders. The central story is interesting but gets bogged down by an excess of subplots. Things pick up for a tense finale. But I wanted more growth from these characters.
I’ll break down the plot in this spoiler filled recap. Trigger warning for child abuse and self harm.
Scene One: Murder
CLOSET (Age 15): Let’s go to the woods and hook up. No homo.
TWINK (Also 15): Sounds good.
(A car full of Gangsters drives up. They have a man trapped in their trunk. He breaks free and kills them all. The Killer sees the boys, but they escape.)
CLOSET: We can’t tell anyone we witnessed a murder or they’ll know that we’re gay.
TWINK: That makes absolutely no sense. Whatsoever.
CLOSET: That’s the premise of the show! Just go with it!
Scene Two: Investigation
SHERIFF MOM: Four Gangsters were murdered.
TWINK: Oh gee mom. That’s awful.
SHERIFF MOM: I guess I’ll investigate red herrings while Twink acts suspiciously.
(This takes up half the series.)
GANGSTER’s UNDERAGE DAUGHTER: I’m sleeping with the Killer. That’s why my daddy’s gang is after him. We’re in love! (The Killer murders her. It turns out that he’s the…)
NEW POLICE CHIEF: This was clearly the result of gang warfare. We’ll arrest the gangsters and clean up the city!
POLICE FORCE: Huzzah!
Scene Three: Confessions
TWINK: Mom, we saw the murders.
CLOSET: Twink’s an unstable liar.
SHERIFF MOM: Sound’s legit.
TWINK: I AM NOT UNSTABLE! (Attempts suicide.)
CLOSET: Well now I just feel guilty. Fine. We saw the murders.
Scene Four: Danger
GOSSIPY COP: If I sleep with you can I get a promotion?
KILLER POLICE CHIEF: Sure. I’ll put you in charge of witness protection.
GOSSIPY COP: Great. I’ll protect those idiot teens who saw the gangland murder. Let me tell you all about them.
KILLER POLICE CHIEF: You’re good at your job.
Scene Five: Rescue
(Killer Police Chief kidnaps Twink. The Sheriff gives chase.)
SHERIFF MOM: Let go of my son!
TWINK: I’m okay mom. He shot himself. I guess he felt guilty.
SHERIFF MOM: He what? You mean, like, off screen?
TWINK: Yeah. It was pretty anti-climactic. If this show gets remade, we should stage a big confrontation scene. Guns drawn. Villainous monologue. All that.
CLOSET: You’re safe! Be my boyfriend?
TWINK: I dunno. You’re kind of toxic.
CLOSET: I’ll be nicer in the remakes.
The show was remade three times. Each adaptation would tweak the pacing and add new layers to the central relationships. The 2016 American series fleshed out the boy’s romance and gave the Sheriff a tragic past. That same year a Romanian series streamlined the story to four episodes. In 2018 a French series leveled up the killer for a more bombastic finale.
All are enjoyable but none fix the flawed premise. There’s no reason for the boys to keep quiet. They could easily report the crime without outing themselves. It’s nice to see gay leads in genre fiction but they lack agency. The Sheriff and the Killer drive the plot while the boys twiddle their thumbs. I didn’t expect them to be action heroes but a little initiative would’ve been nice.