Hollands hoop is a Dutch drama and crime series. Protagonist Fokke Augustinus (Marcel Hensema) inherits a farm from his late father. This causes Fokke and his family drive off to Groningen and arrange the funeral. A few days after they arrive there, Fokke stumbles upon something quite disquieting; amongst the farm’s cornfields, he finds a huge marijuana plantation. Before he knows, he’s taken over the business. Of course, this quickly causes all kinds of trouble for Fokke, which makes for the thrilling, dramatic and often funny scenes.
The first season counted eight episodes, and the first episode aired on September 24, in 2014. Dana Nechushtan directed the series and scriptwriter Franky Ribbens was responsible for the vibrant story. In this article, we’ll have a look at Hollands Hoop’s reviews, the storyline and some remarkable aspects of the series. Of course, we won’t give away too much, because if you haven’t seen the series yet, you might want to take your time to do so. Unfortunately, Hollands Hoop still hasn’t come out on Netflix, but you can buy it on DVD.
The title Hollands Hoop
Hollands Hoop is a double-layered title. First of all, the farm that Fokke inherits from his father is called ‘Hollands hoop’. Besides that, it’s the name of a very famous strain of weed. Almost every trader in weed seeds sells this strong Dutch weed. ‘Hollands hoop’ got on the market in the early eighties and is specially developed for the Netherland’s humid and cool climate. The tops are ready to be harvested in the beginning of Oktober, which is important due to the amount of rain that starts to fall during this month. Furthermore, the Hollands hoop plant is extra mould resistant. The weed that Fokke finds in the cornfields is, naturally, Hollands hoop.
Fokke Augustinus is a forensic psychiatrist with a burn-out, married to the beautiful Machteld (Kim van Kooten). Together they have three kids. Their teenage son Pepijn (Martijn Lakemij) is in the middle of his pubertal rebellion and is just starting to get out of control. This is clearly to be seen in the scene where his room burns down, after a short circuit in the computer-closet where he grows weed. His younger sister Lara (Megan de Kruijf) is, by contrast, the most righteous girl in class, but has a very sneaky side that her brother sometimes has to pay for. At last, there’s the little Filipa (Amber Robin) who, at the age of four, always sticks to her daddy and doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything. In the first episode, we get to meet this average family.
In this episode, Fokke receives a letter that tells him about his father’s death. Their bond was never a strong one, so he doesn’t seem to be impressed by his death. When he reads that he inherited his father’s farm in Groningen though, he decides to get his family together and take them up North.
Once they get there, it only takes a few days for Fokke to stumble upon something quite disquieting; amongst the cornfields, he finds a huge marijuana plantation. Instead of telling the police about it, Fokke decides to keep it a secret for a while. But when some clients stop by, Fokke doesn’t seem to have a choice and takes over the plantation. What he doesn’t foresee, however, is that the plantation inevitably leads to contact with a huge number of criminals. In addition, some people have to be kept silent and curious neighbours must be avoided.
Apart from the plantation, Fokke has to keep his late father’s farm running and gets into trouble with the surrounding farmers. The fact that Fokke keeps the plantation a secret from Machteld, doesn’t seem to make all of this any easier. Pepijn is the only one who quite quickly finds out what his father is up to and decides to help him. Father and son join hands to get through the problems that they have to face.
A remarkable character
The problems that the plantation brings, aren’t the only difficulties that come upon Fokke’s path. A man called Dimitri (Peter van den Begin) escaped his preventive custody and followed Fokke to Groningen. Strangely enough, Dimitri has some deeper feelings towards Fokke, since Fokke seems to be the only one who understands this dangerous man. Dimitri surely is dangerous; he was put into a clinic after murdering his own father. Within the clinic, Fokke was his therapist. But now that Fokke has to deal with his own problems, having Dimitri there as well is just too much. Sending him away doesn’t seem to be an option, so Fokke is puzzled about what to do with him. In the meantime, the police have started to show its discontent towards Fokke. This way, Dimitri keeps turning up in the story, and eventually even starts living on the plantation.
The remarkable thing about Peter van den Begin is his talent to imitate accents. In the Belgian series Matroesjka’s he spoke Flemish in a way that was almost incomprehensible for Dutch viewers. In Hollands Hoop, he speaks with an accent that is typical for Groningen, but in other series, we’ve heard him speak a vulgar accent from Amsterdam or just perfectly decent Dutch. Peter’s accent won’t tell you where he is from originally, which makes it even more interesting to know that he’s actually Flemish himself.
Hollands Hoop stands out with its dark, intriguing leader with music from Janne Schra and De Staat. The series consists of both drama and thriller moments but also shows some humorous and even absurd scenes. This mixture of different styles is absolutely unique for Dutch television as we know it. The story is written in such a way that it keeps you interested throughout. It’s no surprise that it was chosen as the opening of the French television-festival Série Series, where the eight best European series are selected each year.
Simultaneously, Hollands Hoop was nominated for three Gouden Kalveren. One for best series, one for best actor (Marcel Hensema) and one for best actress (Kim van Kooten). They ended up winning one, for Best Dutch Drama Series.
But winning a Gouden Kalf wasn’t the biggest compliment they got so far; they recently heard that the series is sold to America to be turned into an American remake. The television network A&E and Oscar-winners Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor are currently working on the script. It is still questionable whether the series will have the same success in America since it’s a typically Dutch story, related to a typically Dutch product. Moreover, the Netherlands has a relatively liberal attitude towards cannabis. Most American states, on the other hand, are still quite conservative.
This conservative view could cause trouble when it comes to American reviews. In the worst case scenario, these conservative critics wouldn’t dare to write or talk about a media object that covers narcotics as much as Hollands Hoop does. They might be afraid to be seen as advertisers for drugs. But when there’s barely any coverage of a series in reviews, it will, alas, result in lower viewer rates. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a good example of this. Films or series about drugs do get popular in America when there’s no happy ending for the ‘criminal’ protagonists. That way, certain films and series can namely be seen as some sort of warning towards the viewers. Hollands Hoop, however, doesn’t read very well as a warning. Of course, things go wrong, but there’s a rather positive outlook as well.
Comparisons to Breaking Bad
The media often referred to the hugely popular American series Breaking Bad when talking about Hollands Hoop. In Breaking Bad we see how a chemistry teacher called Walter White starts producing methamphetamine to deal with his financial issues. Together with a former student of his, they set up a production lab. Within no time, Walter has earned a substantial amount of money. This flow of cash makes that they keep being gravitated towards the production of meth, despite all of its downsides and the fact that Walt already earned enough money to get out of his negative financial position. By not being able to let their production go, the two keep being pulled deeper into the world of crime.
Hollands Hoop does indeed resemble Breaking Bad in many ways, but there are some major differences that shouldn’t be forgotten. First of all, Fokke works together with his son, which creates a different kind of bond between them. But most importantly, Hollands Hoop revolves around cannabis, which is a soft-drug and therefore a whole lot more innocent than methamphetamine. The Dutch series also contains more humorous moments, which puts it into a different genre than Breaking Bad. Lastly, the way in which Fokke ends up in his situation differs from Walter’s. It simply happens to Fokke, whereas Walter deliberately chooses to put himself in this position.
The often made comparisons do make sense though. Both series are about a highly educated citizen who has never been part of any criminal activities himself. Suddenly a case of ill fate strikes, and they have to switch careers. Before they know it, they’ve turned into notorious criminals. Besides that, both series revolve around a rather well-known drug, which attracts a lot of curious viewers. It’s just really exciting for many people to get a look into the world of the dealers, producers and users of certain drugs. Hollands Hoop can nevertheless in no way be seen as a Dutch version of Breaking Bad. The fact that America bought the Dutch series to produce a remake seems to confirm this.
Shortly after the first season ended in December 2014, announcements were made that the second season of Hollands Hoop would follow. They started shooting in September 2016 and the next season will air at the end of 2017 on the Dutch television channel VARA. It’s unclear why this second season took so long to be finished. To find out whether the second season will be as successful as the first one, you might want to go and watch it yourself.
Do you like exciting series with a touch of humour and a wink to the Dutch drug policies? Then this series might be the perfect thing to start binge-watching now. You can buy it on DVD, but there’s a chance that the first season will soon be broadcasted again on Dutch television before the second season starts. You can also watch it through Uitzending Gemist at any time you want. But don’t wait too long - the series will only be online for a few weeks until they’ll take it back down again.