Described by critics as a cross between ‘Monty Python and A Game of Thrones’, the new show Norsemen is a refreshing and subversive take on the current Viking vogue. It has an authentic setting (period, place and Norwegian actors) but then has characters discussing the importance of team-work, leadership skills and modern relationships, even as they raid, pillage and slaughter. The juxtaposition is dark and hilarious. It’s also refreshing and does a lot to highlight/expose the tired cliches of A Game of Thrones (the first book of which was written back in the 1990s, remember).
And it’s not all dumb – for there are strong echoes of the Beowulf tale, both in terms of plot and value-system. The concepts of ‘money’ and ‘art’ are alien to the Norsemen in the show, and provide hilarious moments as a Roman slave tries to explain the bizarre notions of ‘theatre’, ‘statues’ and ‘a creative director’. Such moments give the Norsemen a certain innocence and likeability but also serve to satirise the contrivances of modern life.
Each episode stands alone, but there is also a series arc concerning a cowardly, murderous Viking intent on stealing the throne from his brother. Implicitly, the show questions the nature of heroism, adequacy and masculinity. Gender roles are challenged as are issues of sexuality. But, don’t let that put you off! There’s still plenty of wanton violence and mindless brutality. Phew. They wouldn’t be real Vikings otherwise.
Definitely worth a look. It’s available on Netflix at the mo and scores 9 out of 10 from me. (I’m not giving it 10 because there aren’t any actual dragons.)