So another binge on Netflix, another new series to explore. I had seen Norsemen advertised for a while but I was put off thinking it was a rip-off Vikings. Oh, how wrong I was. I started watching the first season only a couple of days ago. I was instantly drawn into the comic acting along with the authentic set and costumes of the 8th Century. The combat was engaging and the actors had physical prowess.
The characters are instantly likeable and relatable, the comedy sort of fits the genre of Parks and Recreations or The Office, (if it was set in medieval Scandinavia) but with more gruesome acts and gore. There is a lot of historical accuracy but the funniest bits are when modern references are made and the protagonists try to explain it away, you will hear several times “this is something I say now.”
As for the violence and raping, it is often brought into the story in a non-offensive, almost joyful way. There might be a few penis castrations or impaling visuals, but they are a subtle part of everyday life for the Viking warrior. Pillaging and defiling is the background to a great interwoven story about love, pride and vengeance.
Although depicting a violent and brutal period and culture in history, the imagery in Norsemen isn’t particularly gratuitious compared to other popular series of a similar theme. Human rights, morality, marriage equality and sexuality are all explored through different characters, there is vulgarity and even scenes where you will physically balk. Overall however it’s a well written story with compelling lore.
The horror aspects of the first series didn’t deter me from immediately watching the second instalment. The evolution of the characters and the satirical jibes at other films and series of a similar nature, really gave the newest episodes some depth. You felt as a viewer invested in different characters and yet each new story offered a reward for watching. A wee token visual or joke about Viking fashion, I particularly liked the way the writers allowed each character to develop gradually, slowly revealing parts of themselves whilst maintaining the expected level of humour. One of my favourite characters is a slave, who was apparently freed in the mid 80’s but he didn’t take to it.
I can’t wait for the third season. Norsemen is a Norwegian tv series, it is produced for NRK by Viafilm. The series is written and directed by Jon Iver Helgaker and Jonas Torgersen. This is a 4/5 review, but because I think it can only get better. A must watch!