2022/11/10 | By Giulia Quaresima | Photo by Unsplash
Dirty Lines was released on Netflix in April 2022 and is series of six episodes set in 1980’s Amsterdam. It tells the story of the development, and the rise and fall of the first phone sex line in Europe.
It’s 1987. It’s Amsterdam. It’s the end of the Cold War and hope and freedom have started to re-shape the city. The rise of the club scene – and its somewhat dark underbelly – along with an increase in technological developments in the Netherlands, the prolific use of “love-drug” XTC, house music, free sex and the AIDS epidemic all feature in this original Dutch production by creator and director, Pieter Bart Korthuis.
Between the lines
Based on the book 06-Cowboys by Fred Saueressig (marketing director of one of the most famous sex line platforms in Europe), Dirty Lines is told through the eyes and voice of Marly Salomon (Joy Delima) who is a psychology student looking for a job to pay her rent. By chance, she meets brothers Ramon (Chris Peters) and Frank (Minne Koole) Stigter who have launched Teledutch – the first European-based company to use phones as sex lines – and Marly finds a role in the company as the voice of the sex line tape recordings.
Teledutch quickly becomes a huge economic success – finding a niche in the vibrant and free-thinking environment that is coming to life in the Netherlands. The younger generation is embracing excesses and voyeurism in response to escalating tensions between old and new, along with conflicts between conformity amongst middle-class families, and growing issues of life on the outskirts of the city.
There is also an insight into the revolutionary society of the 1980’s – from sex to love, family to school and music to fashion. As the story develops, Marly also focuses on the taboo of sex – despite the popularity of the phone sex line – and an analysis of same from a psychological perspective.
Despite the success of their company, brothers Ramon and Frank have struggles to contend with. Ramon wastes money on expensive cars and luxurious homes, and suddenly has to take on the new role of a father. Frank must deal with questions about himself, the life he has built and the person he is becoming. Meanwhile, Marly’s parents can’t accept her new job nor her choice to study sexology and she is forced to leave home.
In addition to some dramatic storylines – including conflicts with families, friends, and society – there are also funny moments in the series. At one point the Teledutch phone sex line gets so jammed with callers that it practically takes down the country’s entire phone network!
Dirty Lines has a fast-paced and dynamic rhythm, resulting in fluid and lively narration and a soundtrack enriched by classics of the early 1990’s. The characters are immersed in the revolution which is impacting their lives, and results in a keen insight into their formative years whilst also touching on ethics and freedom of choice. The accurate historical backdrop and seeing Amsterdam and its technology and culture transform over time was particularly enjoyable. One to watch!
Want to read more about Dutch Life and Culture? Check out this article.
Did you know:
The university scenes in Dirty Lines were filmed at Tilburg University, the Netherlands.
About the Author:
Italian native Giulia Quaresima lives in The Hague and has been writing for ACCESS since 2019.