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NRK, ZDFneo Drama ‘A Better Man,’ About an Internet Troll’s Path to Redemption, Boarded by Beta Film (EXCLUSIVE)

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Leading distribution company Beta Film has come on board four-part Norwegian drama “A Better Man,” created by Thomas Seeberg Torjussen.

The show, which was commissioned by Norwegian broadcaster NRK and German broadcaster ZDF‘s platform ZDFneo, is produced by Synnøve Hørsdal and Christian Fredrik Martin at Norway’s Maipo Film.

“A Better Man” centers on Tom, Norway’s No. 1 internet troll. He is a smart but angry and frustrated man with misogynistic tendencies, and an example of everything that is pathetic and wrong with the men who didn’t get the memo about the gender equality movement.

When hackers reveal his identity to the public, he is forced to dress as a woman to escape social persecution, and discovers that the world opens up to him when he dresses in women’s clothes.

Torjussen tells Variety that the idea for the series was planted “when I started digging into the misogyny of men who are left behind in what I believe is the most progressive, gender-equal region of the world.”

Although the show deals with serious issues, it will be entertaining, he says. “I cram a lot of twists and turns into every episode, which I hope will feel like a roller-coaster ride. And it’s also funny. It’s not a comedy, but there is a sense of irony to it: He is a misogynist in female clothing. We take it seriously, but I believe that’s going to be funny.”

Martin adds: “I was intrigued by this roller-coaster story of this misogynist having to hide himself in women’s clothing and being transformed on the other side, becoming a better man, so to speak. It was the combination of it being a tall tale, in one sense, and in another an important and precise reflection of our times that struck me.”

Tom is a nuanced, three-dimensional character, Torjussen says. “He is not an idiot, so he’s not wrong about everything. I’ve taken the smartest, most bitter man out there, and on some points he’s right.”

Tom’s pet hate is a stand-up comedian called Live. To Tom, she is the manifestation of what he calls the “vaginal state of Norway.”

“When it comes to the female comedian that he harasses, he’s fatter than her, but she talks about body issues and body shame as if it were a female only thing and also something that men have imposed on women, and it enrages him,” Torjussen says. “A lot of the women who have read the script have become intrigued by his arguments against them, and, to some extent, agreed with them, but then, of course, you can’t defend his actions.”

He continues, “He blames everything around him. It’s not women, but [in his opinion] it’s the feminist state that made him a wuss. And that’s why he doesn’t have any friends and because he doesn’t have any friends, he can’t get girls and then that sucks. He’s made a political scapegoat for his whole misery, in a way.”

Live is used to getting a lot of hate, and when Tom becomes a target for online harassment and then disappears, she is concerned for his safety.

“From having the experience of getting a lot of hate and ridicule, she can see that this must kill him in a way, and then she really thinks when he disappears without a trace, he has killed himself, and she believes he would have been alive if it wasn’t for her,” Torjussen says. “And then she feels that no one cares, not even his mom, and feels lonely in her worry for him.”

Another key character is Audun, Tom’s neighbor, who is “like the poster metrosexual,” Torjussen says, but has a hidden side to him. “He’s the guy who’s made it. He has a nice girlfriend. He has a kid. He has friends of both sexes. But he has this incel man inside him. He says himself that he is the original incel. The male sexuality is tamed in him, and he feels very lonely in his frustration, so he recognizes something of himself in Tom. He’s a sort of a mirror. So, we don’t tell a story that these men are only lonely, chubby men with their computers. We show another aspect of it.”

“A Better Man” is filming in Lithuania until the end of May and will be delivered to buyers in late December. It will be formally launched in the market in October at Mipcom, where the first trailer will be released.

In a statement, Anaïs de Neergaard, VP international sales and acquisitions at Beta Film, said: “Joining ‘A Better Man’ showcases our dedication to bringing content that is both compelling and engaging to the market. This limited series offers a fresh take on identity and connection in the digital age, blending humor with serious contemporary topics. Promoting empathy and personal growth, ‘A Better Man’ perfectly aligns with our goal of delivering stories that really matter to our audience.”