Through his 10-part series Dekalog (1988), Krzysztof Kieślowski crafted a complex tale of everyday existential dilemmas, leading one American cultural critic to comment: “It was the beginning of a process that set television free.”
This, then, makes it all the more surprising that in the years that followed Dekalog, there was such a dearth of creative output on Polish television sets. Thankfully, this has been remedied across the past decade. A wide range of contemporary and period dramas, bringing in elements of crime, dystopia and political intrigue, have seen Polish productions come to the fore.
Patryk Vega’s high-octane police drama Pitbull (2005–2008) was perhaps the first big post-2000 hit. Meanwhile, long-running series The Border (2014–present) presents a sober picture of a border guard unit operating close to Ukraine, touching on themes of xenophobia and misogyny. The Artists (2016) is a more surprising hit, showing the tensions that emerge among a theatre company after a new director is hired. Polish novels have also proven ripe for adaptation, with Blinded by the Lights (2018) charting seven days in the life of a cocaine dealer over Christmas, and The King of Warsaw (2020) depicting the ascent of a Jewish boxer through the criminal underworld of interwar Warsaw. The crime genre maintains continued popularity in Poland, incorporating the likes of dark thriller Raven (2018–present) and murky 80s period piece The Mire (2018–present).