Norsemen: Accurate *and* Funny!

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I have been dragging my feet FOR-EVER on reviewing Vikings, mainly on account of the fact that I don’t really know enough about the period to make it a particularly in-depth post about everything thing the show gets wrong. I mean, I know they get stuff wrong, but I can’t really articulate how they do. My expertise when it comes to medieval material culture and costumes starts about 100 years after the Norse culture fizzled out.

However, I really need to talk about the Vikings send-up, Norsemen (2016-), that just hit Netflix stateside. Here’s the kicker: Not only is Norsemen meant to be a spoof, according to my friends who know stuff about Norse culture, it actually does a way better job of presenting the Norse world than the show it’s taking the piss out of.

It’s filmed in Norwegian and English, and while I suspect there’s some jokes that don’t quite make the transition between the two languages, the English version is still hysterically funny.

[I really had to restrain myself from just making GIFs of the whole series, because there’s so much comedy gold in every episode, you might as well just watch it].

One of the reasons the show is so good at representing Norse material culture is that it’s filmed on location at Nordvegen History Centre in Avaldsnes, Norway, which maintains a reconstructed Norse-era demonstration village.

Reenactors at Nordvegen History Centre. I’d wager that the show makes use of these folks for the background artists, because the costumes of the villagers are really good.

The main characters are, for the most part, no better costumed than their Vikings counterparts, but there does seem to be a lot more attention to accuracy than Vikings, at least in terms of what’s going on around the central characters. The exception is badass shieldmaiden, Frøya (played by Silje Torp), who is absolutely a send-up of Lagertha in Vikings, right down to the leather pants and biker boots.

The Chieftan’s brother, Orm, idling away the hours while his brother and wife are off a-viking. He’s nålebinding, btw.

Orm is equal parts evil machinator and inept idiot.

All in all, definitely give this series a try if you’re looking for some historical action that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

 

What do you think of Norsemen? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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About the author

Sarah Lorraine

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Sarah discovered her dual passion for history and costume right around the age of twelve. Dragged kicking and screaming to her first Renaissance Faire at Black Point, she was convinced she was going to hate it, but to her surprise, she fell head over heels in love with the world of reenactment and dress up immediately. Her undergraduate degree is in Clothing & Textile Design, and she has a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture. When she’s not hauling crap to SCA events and ren faires, Sarah enjoys reading true crime books, writing fiction, and sewing historical clothing from the Middle Ages through the 20th-century. One of these days, she might even start updating her old costuming blog again.

16 Responses

  1. MoHub

    We are hooked on Norsemen and can’t wait for the second season to drop. Thank you so much for this posting, but I wish you’d given us more, especially the contrast with the English Christians and the attempts by the Roman Rufus to bring art and culture to the Vikings.

    Reply
  2. Susan Pola Staples

    I can’t stop laughing during the show. I’ve only got to the death of Orm’s brother – the chieftain, but Freya is my favourite character.

    Reply
  3. LadySlippers

    Oh my goodness! I’m so glad you reviewed this. I thought this series was amazing and funny, and I hope a lot more people will see it.

    Reply
  4. Bronwyn Benson

    Yes! We loved Norsemen. (And thank you for reminding me of the name nålebinding! My husband asked and all I could stammer out was that it was like one needle knitting.)

    Reply
  5. karena333

    I must watch this show! Thanks for the heads up. “Evil machinator and inept idiot” LOL. I know one of those, but he’s the leader. (Oops, sorry!)

    Reply
  6. Charity

    Netflix recommended me to this the other day (since I watch The Last Kingdom) and I went … ehh, really?

    But that final gif in your post literally caused me to start laughing.

    OMG. I must see this now. I could use some serious LOLz.

    Reply
  7. Sara L.

    I had no idea this was a comedy! I thought it was some foreign knock off of Vikings, and scrolled right past. I will give it a watch, now!

    Reply
    • MoHub

      Whatever you do, don’t drink anything while watching. I guarantee you’ll choke on your beverage.

      Reply
  8. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    OMG!!! I totally need to watch this! I basically hate watch Vikings because the story is fine and following the outlines of the sagas but the costuming.

    Reply
  9. Alys Mackyntoich

    Some of your fans (not me) are experts in the Viking era. I might be able to talk one or two of them into sending in a guest analysis, if that were a thing you might be interested in.

    Reply

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