What is A Nearly Normal Family based on? We reveal the origins of the Netflix thriller

Nordic drama A Nearly Normal Family has Netflix viewers hooked, and many want to know what the show is based on

Alexandra Tyrefors as Stella in A Nearly Normal Family
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix viewers are wondering what A Nearly Normal family is based on, and we've got all the details.

It's that time of the year when everyone's watching the best Christmas movies on Netflix, but if you're a fan of thrillers and wondering what to watch this month, then A Nearly Normal Family might be the show for you. The Swedish language series landed in Netflix's top 10 TV shows in a matter of days, and it's easy to see why viewers are hooked. 

19-year-old Stella appears to have the perfect family life, but her parents' marriage is falling apart and after she's accused of murdering her lover, the facade begins to crack. The lengths parents will go to for their children is a major theme in A Nearly Normal Family and, for some parents, their worst fears are realised in this gripping series. Much like TV fans want to know what The Couple Next Door is based on, after the steamy drama landed on Channel 4, and ITV viewers want to know what psychological thriller Platform 7 is based on, now the same is being asked of A Nearly Normal Family. Warning, there are spoilers ahead...

What is A Nearly Normal Family based on?

A Nearly Normal Family is based on the novel of the same name by M.T. Edvardsson. The book was published in 2019 and went on to become a critically acclaimed bestseller worldwide. Originally published in Sweden, the novel has sold over half a million copies across 35 territories. 

Just like in the book, the series takes place in and around Lund, a town in southern Sweden. Edvarsson, who told Netflix that the TV adaptation was a "dream come true" and also serves as the series’ executive producer, said, "It has been important to me that it is filmed in Lund, where the book takes place." 

Is A Nearly Normal Family a true story?

No, A Nearly Normal Family is not based on a true story. M.T. Edvardsson previously spoke about the inspiration behind the book with publisher Celadon Books. He explained that his own experience as a father of two daughters helped him come up with the story.

"Every parent can relate to that fear of not knowing when your child is coming home," he said. "Then, I imagined my future teen daughter coming home way past midnight and me having the feeling that something is wrong. I imagined myself going downstairs into the laundry room to find that my daughter had tried to wash blood off of her clothes. I asked myself what I would do. If my daughter was brought in by the police the next morning, accused of murdering a man, what would I say? How would I react? How far would I go in stretching the truth to protect my daughter?"

He added that his experience as a high school teacher helped him write from the perspective of a teenage girl. He said, "I know how 18-year-old girls interact - I know their world, and I also know that parents and teenagers do not always share everything with each other. In some extreme cases, it seems they really don't know each other very well. That is one thing I wanted to take a closer look at in this novel: How well do we really know our teenagers?"

Alexandra Tyrefors as Stella in A Nearly Normal Family

(Image credit: Netflix)

What is A Nearly Normal Family about?

Similarly to the book, A Nearly Normal Family follows Stella Sandell and her parents after she is accused of murder. They live a quiet life in the suburbs and appear to have the perfect family setup, but everything changes when the man Stella has been seeing is killed. 

Stella's relationship with her parents has been on the rocks since they told her not to go to the police after a sexual assault four years ago, but now we witness the lengths to which her family will go to protect her - including lying, hiding evidence and sneaking around. 

Despite this, the case against Stella appears strong: a witness spotted her near the crime scene on the night of the murder; police identified a shoe print belonging to her outside the building; and her dad lied to investigators about texts he sent to Stella on the night of the murder - after telling investigators she was already at home.

Meanwhile, both Stella and her close friend Amina aren't telling the whole truth, and it turns out that something much darker happened that fateful night. 

It’s up to defence attorney, Mikael, to secure Stella's freedom, and it turns out he's also happy to destroy evidence to do this.

Håkan Bengtsson as Mikael Blomberg, Alexandra Tyrefors as Stella, Moa Gammel as Jenny Jansdotter in A Nearly Normal Family

(Image credit: Netflix)

A Nearly Normal Family cast

  • Alexandra Karlsson Tyrefors as Stella Sandell
  • Lo Kauppi as Ulrika Sandell, Stella's mother
  • Björn Bengtsson as Adam Sandell, Stella's father
  • Håkan Bengtsson as Mikael Blomberg, Stella’s lawyer
  • Melisa Ferhatovic as Amina Besic, Stella’s best friend
  • Christian Fandango Sundgren as Christoffer Olsen, the man Stella is accused of murdering
  • Moa Gammel as Jenny Jandsdotter, a public prosecutor
  • Christoffer Willén as Robin Kjellander, a summer camp coach
  • Sara Chaanhing Kennedy as Alexandra Besic, Amina’s mother
  • Pablo Leiva Wenger as Dino Besic, Amina’s father
  • Eva Westerling as Kerstin Boströ, Stella’s boss

Looking for more Netflix shows to get your teeth into? We've taken a look at the inspiration behind My Life with the Walter Boys, and where Heart of Stone was filmed. Elsewhere, you can get the Dear Child ending explained too.

Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.