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Series / Klem

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What if you find out that your youngest daughter is best friends with the daughter of a most dangerous criminal... but you work in a high position at the IRS, which means you'd better not be seen with a criminal...
Then you're Stuck.

Klem (litt.: "Stuck" in Dutch) is a Dutch crime/drama television series that ran from 2017 to 2020 in three seasons. It is about the unlikely friendship that develops between two very different men, and their families.

Hugo (Barry Atsma) is a middle-aged widower, single father of two daughters, and has a top career at the Dutch tax institution (equivalent to the IRS) as a high-functioning government official. This completely straight-laced man inadvertedly crosses paths with top-criminal Marius after the latter is released from prison and both men cross paths because their elementary school-aged daughters are best friends, plus Hugo is platonic best friends with Marius' wife Kitty (who lied all 8 years her husband was in prison, telling everybody that he was "working abroad").

Hugo initially wants nothing to do with Marius, but their lives get intertwined after Hugo saves Marius from getting shot to death by other criminals who feel he owns them money. While Hugo is spending the first season (unsuccesfully) trying to avoid getting involved with Marius, Marius has problems of his own: now that he's released after 8 years in prison, he turns out to have severe debts of a million Euros to several other criminals, who now go after him. Plus, he has a parole officer who watches his every step, a daughter of 8 years old who's never known him but whom he's now trying to form a bond with, and his in-laws hate him.


In the second season, Hugo and Marius are (again) trying to avoid becoming suspects of a murder, while Kitty starts her own restaurant—but is soon foreclosed—and Hugo's teenage daughter Laura gets involved with a much older man who turns out to be bad business.

A third and last season was released in 2019, in which Hugo now has been fired from the IRS and gotten his reputation ruined by Marius' involvement; the men have had a falling-out with each other and are both trying to rebuild their lives.


This series provides examples of:

Series as a whole

  • Artistic License: Every phone shown is an Android phone, but the ringtones they make are Apple ringtones.
  • Missing Mom: Hugo's wife died 3 years prior to the series' start, which means his two daughters haven't had a mum for some time at the time the series starts, and they don't have a maternal figure in their lives during the series.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The director has stated that he got the idea for this series after reading headlines about criminals in the news, with the character of Marius specifically being inspired by Willem Holleeder, a criminal infamous for his many kidnappings and murderings. It's downplayed though because only the background of the character and not specific storylines happening in the series itself were taken from there, and also because Marius is trying to reform his life and leave crime throughout the series, while the real Holleeder ended up currently serving a life-long prison sentence.
  • Time Skip:
    • The first scene of Season 1 shows the funeral of Hugo's wife, with then a title card following saying "Three years later..."
    • Season 2 doesn't immediately follow Season 1, but instead explicitly states an entire year has passed between the two seasons.
    • Again, an entire year passes between Season 2 and 3.

Season 1

  • Age-Gap Romance: Hugo, in his mid-forties, has a relationship with 25-year old Hannah in the first season, to the dismay of his 16-year old daughter Laura who keeps reminding him his girlfriend is just 9 years older than his daughter.
  • Coming and Going: The sex scenes between Hugo and his girlfriend Hannah, respectively Marius and his wife Kitty, are intershot with the last moments of George van Galen's life, and the latter is shot to death at the moment the former sex scenes come to their conclusion.
  • Disappeared Dad: First played straight then subverted for Chrissie. She hasn't had a father in her life for the first 8 years of her life, with her mom telling her that's because her dad can't see them because he's "working abroad"; but as of the start of the series, her father gets released from prison after 8 years, her parents tell her the truth about this, and she starts to form a bond with her father.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Of the "Country-dependent" variation. Hugo and Kitty are looking for a person called Andrea, whom they never are told the gender of but they assume is a woman ("Andrea" in the Netherlands, like in English, is a female name). Not until she listens to her Italian lessons she happens to be taking, does Kitty realize that in Italian "Andrea" is male so they should also look for men. (Complicating matters was that this Andrea had his Dutch mother's last name instead of his Italian father's last name—if he'd had the latter, Kitty would have been clued in sooner since she knows some Italian).
  • Mr. Fanservice: Laura's Season 1 boyfriend Jim tries to use this In-Universe: he often appears without a shirt at moments and places where there wouldn't be any reason for him to, and he only does it to impress / please Laura with the effects of his bodybuilding on his body. Hugo, who's not amused, tells him a few times to go put on a shirt.
  • Shirtless Scene: Laura's Season 1 boyfriend Jim appears shirtless in a few scenes, to the point that Hugo annoyedly exclaiming "Why aren't you wearing a shirt?!" almost becomes a Running Gag.
  • Shower of Love: A sex scene in the shower is shown between Marius and Kitty after the former has just been released from prison and can be with his wife for the first time in 8 years.

Season 2

  • Age-Gap Romance: 17-year old Laura gets into a relationship with a 34-year old man—twice her age, and as her father (who, ironically, himself had such a romance with a much younger woman in the previous season) keeps telling her, way too old for her.
  • Hypocrite: Laura accuses Hugo of being one when she says can't really complain about her boyfriend being 17 years older, because Hugo himself just comes out of such an Age-Gap Romance with an also 17 years younger woman.
  • Reverse Who Dunit: Season 1 ends with Hugo and Marius killing Wally. So the viewer knows how Wally died. The authorities, in-universe, however, do not, and most of Season 2 is spent on the police (and the other criminals) questioning "what happened to Wally?", with even one episode of Season 2 titled "Where is Wally?".
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: In Season 2, Marius joins a group of lay men to help him deal with his anger issues.

Season 3:

  • Affair Letters: A handwritten note from Hugo, adressed to Kitty, in which he writes about "our passionate night together a few years ago", ends up in Marius's hands. The latter is furious at finding out his wife had an affair. Turns out the letter was actually written by Judith, note  not by any of the two people who had the affair, so it was an Invoked Trope.