Have you ever wanted to watch a Viking comedy? The Netflix series Norsemen is exactly what you are looking for.
With the third season of Norsemen just being released, it’s a good time to take a look at this series which has been an unexpected hit. The series has been filmed in both Norwegian and English, with the version for Norway (known as Vikingane) becoming hugely popular. Netflix picked up the English-version of the series (from various reports there are hardly any differences between them) and released the first season in 2016. The second season followed a year later, but fans have had to wait until the summer of 2020 to see more of the antics from characters such as Chieftain Olav, Frøya the Shielmaiden, and the slave Rufus.
Don’t expect to see battles and pillaging from this series – it mostly takes place at a small Norwegian village around the year 790 AD, with our ensemble cast taking on the roles of everyone from chieftain to slave. Some plot and scheme against each other, but this is no copy of Vikings or Game of Thrones. It’s all designed to bring out the laughs.
The humour of Norsemen is deadpan, with all the characters playing themselves seriously no matter how absurd the situation is. Those situations can range from Rufus the Slave trying to make the village a cultural capital, to the chieftain teaching his brother about sex by having him watch as he and his wife perform the various acts.
Another reason why Norsemen is so funny is that all the characters speak as if they are modern day people, so you get jargon that you might typically hear at the office meeting or on bad reality television. It is this aspect to the show that has probably made the show so well loved by a growing fanbase.
The show does not seem to have any limits when it comes to humour, where even rapes get played for laughs. We get a lot of graphic (talking about) sex, and a moderate amount of graphic (shown) violence. This is an adult comedy, so its not for everyone.
Sometimes the scenes and jokes are drawn out way too long, and the show can drag on at times. The first season is definitely the best of the three, as it gets repetitive with season 2. The new season goes in a different direction, becoming a prequel that promotes some characters to the forefront, while leaving others to just small roles.
Overall, Norsemen has a very unique style, so some will love it and others find it subpar. You probably want to give this show a try for a few minutes and see how much you will enjoy it. Each season consists of six episodes of about thirty minutes each, so you could spend three evenings to binge watch the entire series. If you are new to the show and aim plan to see it all, then you might want to start with season 3 first.
Since this show is a comedy, one should not expect too much historical accuracy about the Middle Ages, but there are a lot of things that Norsemen does which medievalists will enjoy. This is in how it plays off on some of the myths people have about Vikings, from ritual sacrifice to horned helmets.
Some of my favourite lines from the series – all said in the utmost of serious tones:
“It’s not really me, that fear-based leadership style.”
“Ritual sacrifice isn’t a perfect science.”
“There is no better feeling than doing back-breaking work for someone else without pay.”
“Here is the latest in sword, axe and dagger. Not so much has happened in that field in the last thousand years, but this is supposed to be the latest.”