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Destination: your sofa; watch the best (according to me) Norwegian series and movies

This isn't just a list I scraped together using generic search criteria from IMDB. The idea behind this list is to give you a bit of an insight into this country and also to nuance the cliché image that many people have of Norway. Don't get me wrong, much of it is true. Norwegians tend to be somewhat reserved, they only greet each other if they're more than 5 kilometers away from civilization. But where it all comes from is often best understood when you exaggerate it a bit. So, in no particular order, here's a list of films and series that I believe are well worth watching because they genuinely enhance your journey here and in a sense honour the Norwegian mindset and spirit.


Norwegian Living Room

I should warn you in advance that some series can only be viewed through the Norwegian state broadcaster. But without resorting to too many obscure tricks, you can still watch most of them with a simple Norway proxy VPN connection (I'll give you a tip on the bottom of this article). Without further ado, let us set off:


1. Lykkeland: I watched this series with great attention. It paints a beautiful portrait of the early days of the new prosperity brought about by the discovery of oil off the Norwegian coast. You see how the farming society as it was in the 1950s gradually changes, ushering in a wave of emancipation, wealth, and small migrations. The diminishing influence of the church plays a strong role in traditional gender roles. The series is primarily set in and around Stavanger, which is still more or less the oil capital of Norway. Excellent acting by Malene Hovland Wadel, makes this series almost binge-worthy. Above all, it provides a wonderful framework for a time when high prosperity was not necessarily a given, but explosive changes in all aspects heralded a new era in Norwegian history.


2. Norsemen: One of the clichés I mentioned earlier is undoubtedly the Vikings. I understand that a group of marauding roughnecks captures the imagination. And rightfully so. In their perfected sailboats, they discovered entire continents (such as Greenland and what is now North America), founded Kiev, and realized that you could sail all the way to the Black Sea via where St. Petersburg is now. But the romanticization of Viking existence is sometimes overdone in my opinion. They were primarily farmers who, after a series of poor harvests, set sail out of desperation in search of better farming conditions (and raided and raped a bit while at it). The theory even goes that due to a massive volcanic eruption elsewhere on Earth, the entire globe was considerably darker and colder for several years in a row, leading to significantly poorer crop yields. It's difficult to prove, but the timing of the Vikings' voyages quite clearly correlates with carbon dating of the layers of ash found, among other places, in Greenland's ice. Anyway, to cut a long story short, you can, of course, watch the series "Vikings." Well-made and with a fair share of limbs being chopped off. Even more enjoyable is the English-spoken series "Norsemen." First and foremost, the actors have done their utmost to speak English with a heavy Norwegian accent. Additionally, you should actually see it as a parody of what today's society looks like, but set against the backdrop of a Viking setting. The longer you live here, the more visible and clear the parallels become. It's hilarious, I promise. But do watch the English-spoken one.


3. Med Monsen på vilspor: Lars Monsen is something of a phenomenon here (or a hero if you please). It was the very first series I watched when I moved here. That was about the first evening I sat down in front of the television, literally day one. And I was actually immediately in love with this sympathetic noble savage, in his bright orange jacket. The concept of the program is actually quite simple: Monsen (a seasoned survival expert who prefers animals over people) is dropped into the wilderness, and with limited resources, he must find his way to a specific destination. This series phenomenally captures the nationally shared love for the outdoors. Moreover, it brings you fairly close to the Norwegian national character, if such a thing exists. Plus, if you're interested in the outdoors and camping, you can learn an incredible amount from this series. Packing a backpack, taking the most essential items, and a thorough introduction to wilderness etiquette serve as an excellent foundation for your first visit to Norway (provided you're going with a backpack and tent).


4. Eventyr jenter: This fantastic series revolves around a group of adventurous (young) women who venture into the wilderness with cameras in hand. Depending on where in the world you watch this series, it's highly likely you'll find these women brave and tough. And that's accurate. Because in many countries, women have plenty to fear when they're out alone. And they get that fear primarily from us men because we can't keep our mouths shut, or worse, we can't keep our hands to ourselves. Let that sink in. Now, I'm not claiming that this series is proof that emancipation in Norway is complete and that we've reached enlightenment, far from it. But here, at least, it's safe enough for women to enjoy nature without being bothered by all sorts of hopeless individuals with a pair of testies swinging between their legs. Yep, I said it. And besides that, it is a marvellous series with a buch of great and diverse characteres. I hope it inspires you.


5. Almost every country has its own traumas to deal with when it comes to World War II (or any war). Although many of these traumas are universal, they have a lot to do with the national character and how things are dealth with in the aftermath. One important part of dealing with trauma is the films that are made of such events. Rightly or wrongly, they give us an image that we were 'good' in the war, even though it often turns out that only a tiny percentage of the population actually joined some form of resistance. But this awareness can also be called a trauma, and films are very effective in helping to process it. The best Norwegian war films, in my opinion, are "Max Manus" and "Kampen om Tungt Vannet." Both provide a beautiful glimpse into the Norwegian way of doing things and the national character. Universally, every country needs its heroes; ordinary boys and girls setting out to do someting extraordinary, that everyone can still identify with.


6. Verdens verste menneske (The worst person in the world): A hilarious and sometimes somewhat dark comedy about a woman who navigates her way through the tumultuous and sometimes confrontational existence of her thirties. The reason I mention it is that it is set in Oslo, and it gives you a great preview of what awaits you in the city. The outstanding acting, especially by Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie, makes this Oscar-worthy material, without losing sight of the Norwegian mindset at any given point.


7. Rådebank: When you're on vacation here, you're undoubtedly going to encounter a phenomenon that leaves you in the dark: tire tracks seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Especially in the countryside, there's a lively car culture. This probably has something to do with the absence of too much entertainment, but even more so with a desire for community spirit and a sense of belonging. It's often young people hanging out at gas stations in Volvo 240s (an absolute cult car here) or beat-up American cars, playing loud music, and chugging all kinds of energy drinks. I must confess I have a huge soft spot for this kind of culture. Not because I identify with it, but more because it exists and was born out of a need. The series "Radebank" somewhat cultivates this culture but, more importantly, it offers a beautiful and touching view of youth culture in the countryside. Talking about feelings is not something they do much here, let alone in the countryside. This series makes you see things differently when you're on a road trip and you come across a house with a messy garden containing numerous seemingly unusable cars.


8. Home for Christmas: It was inevitable of course, the most delightful Christmas series you'll watch this year. It unfolds in multiple locations, with many of the typical Norwegian customs taking center stage. It's a particularly charming comedy with the usual ingredients; a complicated love life, a fractured family, and everyone feeling a bit lonely. And it all comes together on one delightfully festive yet unusual Christmas Eve. Pure indulgence!


9. Der ingen skulle tru at nokon kunne bu: A splendid portrayal of individuals residing in occasionally improbable locations. Spanning a total of 22 seasons, the series guides you through captivating narratives, breathtaking locations, and at times, unbelievable circumstances where Norwegians sustain a livelihood. Not only does this series take you on a magnificent journey across the entire country, but it also provides a beautiful insight into the mindset of the Norwegian, which often remains concealed. I often watch this show on sunday mornings. Absolutely brilliant!


10. Skam: ...which translates to "Shame" in English, is a Norwegian teen drama series created by Julie Andem. The show explores the lives of a group of high school students in Oslo, delving into various contemporary issues and challenges faced by teenagers. "Skam" gained widespread popularity (also worldwide) for its realistic portrayal of adolescence, addressing topics such as friendship, love, identity, mental health, and social issues.


Some of what I've just mentioned can be viewed on one of the many streaming services, but a portion is only available through NRK (the Norwegian state broadcaster). Because it's not strictly allowed, but I believe there's no harm in wanting to watch fantastic Norwegian series as a non-Norwegian, here's my proposal for a bit of civil disobedience. With a connection from NORD VPN, you can enjoy all of the above and get fully into the mood before embarking on your journey to Norway. I hope you'll have a great time in anticipation (and let me know on Insta which one you enjoyed the most!)

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