Netflix has launched the second season of the Norwegian series Home for Christmas (Hjem til Jul in Norwegian), which shows unique aspects of Norwegian lifestyle and humour, and presents cosy Røros to a large international audience. In recent years, Norway has provided breathtaking film locations in international film productions and has been the location for critically acclaimed and compelling TV series.
Norway is not only known for providing stunning film locations in international film productions and for its passion for Slow TV, but also for TV shows that have gathered international attention. It all started with Lilyhammer and SKAM, the latter being much more than just a TV show for Norwegian teens, as it soon became a global cultural and social phenomenon, with remakes produced in eight countries.
The rise of streaming services has made it possible to watch many TV shows from Norway all around the world. Here is a list of TV series from Norway that you can binge-watch this winter, enjoying different places and landscapes in Norway, and from unique locations with stunning nature to intriguing cities.
Home for Christmas
Home for Christmas (Hjem til Jul) is the Netflix’s first Norwegian series and takes place in Oslo and Røros. The series consists of six 30-minute segments and is more inspired by SKAM than by classic romantic drama-comedies.
Røros is a small and unique town that has preserved its original charm, with houses dating back to the 1700s and 1800s. Røros is one of the coldest ones in Norway, used to be a proud mining town and is one of the oldest towns of wooden buildings in Europe. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and, together with the rest of the Trøndelag region, it is also known as one of Norway’s leading regions for locally produced food.
The inspiration for the series is taken from televised Nordic advent calendars as we follow Johanne (Ida Elise Broch), a single nurse in her 30s, trying to find a boyfriend in time for her traditional Christmas dinner with her parents. The show has been called the Norwegian answer to Bridget Jones and this romantic drama-comedy is a breath of fresh air in a seemingly endless list of Christmas movies. And you will certainly get into the koselig Christmas spirit from Norway with lots of humour.
The first series was launched in December 2019, while the second series is available on Netflix from 18th December 2020.
Ragnarok is the story of the fall of the Norse gods. In this Netflix series, however, these gods and giants deal with conflicts of modern times in a small Norwegian community.
The story takes place in fictional Edda, where the brothers Magne (David Stakston) and Laurits (Jonas Strand Gravli) return to stay with their mother who got a job at the biggest company in the area. The small town by the fjord is suffering from puzzling environmental damage. The wealthy and mysterious Jutul family owns the company that basically runs the whole area, and the strange family members are not amused as Magne is investigating the causes of the mysterious events. Things get even more interesting when Magne suddenly develops supernatural powers.
Almost all the locations in the series, from the harbour to the school, are in Odda, Western Norway. The town lies by the Sørfjord, which is a branch of the Hardangerfjord. Except for the Jutul family’s estate, the locations didn’t even have to be changed much for the scenes. In the centre near Torget (the main square), there is a memorial stone in honour of the series, placed there by Netflix.
Odda is also a popular base for the famous hike to Trolltunga. The impressive rock formation is located ten kilometres northeast of the town and can also be spotted in the series. The second season of Ragnarok has recently been confirmed by Netflix and will air in 2021.
Norsemen (Vikingane) is often described as a Monty Python version of Vikings. Others have described it as The Office of the Viking Age, or even The Office meets Game of Thrones. The dialogues and the various situations are a great mix of the raw lifestyle of the Viking age and references to our current time, including debates in our society.
This fresh and irreverent series is filmed in the village of Avaldsnes in Karmøy, in Western Norway. A curiosity: The series was recorded simultaneously in both Norwegian and English-language versions by filming each scene twice.
There are three seasons of the series, all developed by Viafilm and NRK and made available on Netflix. The last season aired in 2020 and was called season zero, as it was meant as a prequel to season one.
Beforeigners is HBO Nordic’s first original series from Norway where time travel and murder investigation are combined, showing modern-day Oslo as a city inhabited by people from different ages due to mysterious time travel events. The first time travel event in the series takes place in the Oslofjord, just in front of the iconic Opera house in Oslo.
One of the main characters in the series, detective Lars Haaland (Nicolai Cleve Broch), lives in the Bjørvika area in the Oslo city centre. Another location in the Norwegian capital that is easily recognisable is Tjuvholmen. Both areas can be discovered by walking along the new harbour promenade.
The series draws heavily on the history and mythology of Norway, mentioning the historical Battle of Stiklestad as one of the main factors for the conflicts in the series. The much-awaited second season is currently being filmed in Oslo and will be aired in 2021.
Okkupert, as the series is called in Norwegian, is a political thriller taking place in the near future. In this fiction, Norway is occupied by Russia on behalf of the European Union, due to the fact that the newly elected environmental friendly Norwegian government has stopped oil and gas production in the North Sea, thus starting an energy crisis in Europe.
The spectacular building that hosts the office of the prime minister of Norway in Occupied is actually the main of office of Equinor, located in Fornebu, just outside Oslo. The series is based on an original idea by Norwegian best-selling author Jo Nesbø and has been filmed in several Norwegian locations, mostly in Oslo and Bergen, among other places around the country and in Europe.
Occupied is one of the most expensive Norwegian production to date and is distributed internationally. The series is now available on Netflix in many countries.
The Heavy Water War
The original title of this miniseries is Kampen om Tungtvannet and the show is also known as The Saboteurs in the UK. This is the true story behind Hitler’s plan of getting the atomic bomb during WWII, and the heavy water sabotages in Rjukan, Telemark.
The miniseries was first broadcasted by NRK, breaking rating records when it premiered in 2015. An incredible 1.2 million Norwegians watched the first two episodes or approximately 24% of the Norwegian population. A record for the opening of a drama series in Norway. The miniseries has been distributed internationally and has been well received by viewers worldwide.
This Norwegian–American TV series is a comedy starring Steven Van Zandt (also known as a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and for starring in The Sopranos). The series is about a former mobster from New York, Frank ‘The Fixer’ Tagliano, who is trying to rebuild his life in the quiet town of Lillehammer. The Norwegian town is world-famous for hosting the 1994 Winter Olympics (it even has an Olympic museum) and for being a UNESCO city of literature.
The parallels between Steven Van Zandt’s character in Lilyhammer and his Silvio Dante in The Sopranos are striking, but the series has its own quirky, Nordic style that fascinates the viewers. Why is the TV show called Lilyhammer and not Lillehammer? This is both a reference to Lily, the beloved dog of the main character, (who gets killed in the first episode) and to the way many anglophones pronounce LIllehammer.
Lilyhammer ran for three seasons before it got cancelled, and received accolades at the Monte Carlo TV Festival, winning the Golden Nymph award for best European series. Steven Van Zandt was named best actor at the same festival. The series is available on Netflix in most countries, while NRK still hopes to be able to produce another season in the future.
Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones) in two roles, as identical twins Eric and Adam. After the accidental death of his upstanding twin, a surfer’s bum assumes his brother’s identity in this drama produced by NRK in 2019 and distributed internationally.
The TV series takes place mainly on the island of Sakrisøy, just eight miles from the end of the road at the far southern tip of the Lofoten islands. Rorbuer by the waterfront is prominent in the TV show. Rorbuer has converted fishing cabins used as accommodations and is typical for the area. Lofoten really is a unique location for a TV show. The stunning scenery almost ends up being a character itself.
State of Happiness
Lykkeland (as the series is called in Norwegian) is a period drama about the discovery of oil outside Western Norway in the summer of 1969. The main action takes place in the coastal city of Stavanger. Hailed as the Norwegian Mad Men, State of Happiness follows the fate of Norwegians and Americans involved in the search for oil in the Norwegian territory of the North Sea, while Stavanger struggles with a shattered local economy.
State of Happiness is a great way to learn a bit about Norway’s economic history and about the changes that Stavanger has experienced since 1969.
Wisting is a police procedural TV series filmed in Larvik, Oslo and other locations in the Eastern part of Norway. This thriller is based on two novels by Norwegian author Jørn Lier Horst, The Caveman (2012) and The Hunting Dogs (2013). Norwegian actor Sven Nordin has been praised for his performance as widower William Wisting, a senior detective struggling with ghosts from the past. To this date, Wisting is the most expensive television drama series produced in Norway. The production of season two of the hit Norwegian crime drama has begun and the second season should air in Spring 2021.
Where it all started. SKAM was an online and TV teen drama revolving around the lives of a group of teenagers at Hartvig Nissens skole, a real-life high school in Oslo. The series presented a revolutionary format and was produced by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). SKAM defined a new way of making TV series and put Norway on the map as a country with great, innovative stories in the entertainment industry.
Each season focused on one main character and scenes were published through the week on a website administrated by NRK, together with text messages between the characters and social media content. The characters even had their own Instagram accounts.
SKAM fever and SKAM tourism to Oslo soon emerged once the series reached several countries, with fans even visiting the school in Oslo among the other locations in the city. SKAM was also used in a course in digital storytelling class at the University of Oslo. Here you can find a map of the most iconic SKAM locations in Oslo.
More TV series from Norway have recently gathered attention from viewers in Norway and abroad, with recent additions such as Exit and Atlantic Crossing.
Norway has definitely managed to get on the map when it comes to quality TV shows people love to binge-watch. A different way of experiencing Norway.