Norwegian tv is one of a kind. Americans like to watch people fight for their life on a deserted island, the French like to watch famous people debate endlessly, and the Norwegians like watching something called “slow tv”. Very slow.
I started looking into it when I heard there was a show going on all summer (I believe it is every summer) on the Hurtigruten. The Hurtigruten is a boat that covers the Norwegian West coast, and the show broadcasts the view from the baot, with breathtaking views of the fjords, and then going all the way up to Cape North. The question here is: why do Norwegians watch this? They can go and see it for themselves by taking a ticket in their local travel agency or on the web as it is in their country. The thing is, many Norwegians have never taken that boat and even if they have there is something romantic about watching their coastline and loved fjords. Still, 130 hours of coastline gets old after a while, and slow, and …boring? In any case they have a good reason for watching it: over 60% of Norway’s population watched the show says The Huffington Post.
That’s in the summer. Then, in the winter comes the wood burning show, where a whole tv channel is dedicated to showing wood logs burning. During 12 hours. My thinking is that they can make a fire themselves and look at it, it would be more real than on a screen. And probably less expensive than a Hurtigruten ticket to the Cape North. But I guess it is still koselig to have that as a background in your house and involves much less risk than to make one yourself. It can be on all night without risk of burning the house Down (like a real fire would). I mean there won’t be much cliffhanger here, like finding out who killed the kid of that big log. Or wondering whether they will all survive in the end (they don’t).
Some might say slow tv is boring, but I think I’d rather watch that than seeing half naked ladies swearing in a swimming pool like in Paradise Hotel. (never watched that show in Norway but in its equivalent show in France that is what the show is all about). Also, I like both ideas as they represent something very Norwegian: their link to their beautiful nature, and as NRK’s head of programming Mr Moeklebust said, it reminds us of Norwegians “spiritual relationship with fire”. “Fire is the reason we’re here, if there was no firewood, we couldn’t live in Norway, we’d freeze.” True story.
But my favorite of it all isn’t slow tv as such, but a show that captivates the Norwegian public probably even more than burning logs and fjords seen from a boat: Luksusfellen. This is about people who are deep into their debts and more or less stopped paying their loans, yet continuing to take on more and more credit. So there are home-finance specialists from the show coming to check thier accounts, their unpaid tickets and what costs they should reduce to live far from legal trouble. In the end they reveal how much that person’s total debt is, and somehow it feels like every Norwegian in front of their tv is happy to know there is someone with a bigger debt than themselves. It is particularly humiliating when the show comes and looks into all their personal life and show what this person has been spending and for what. The one I watched was about a guy who had bought hundreds of comic books and sausages and Red Bull but didn’t pay his rent. I mean where do they find these people?
So let’s see, what are TV programmers’ next move? They did the boat, the train (12 hour from Bodø to Trondheim), the burning wood. Maybe the next tv show will be about following two Norwegians while they are fishing, just sitting there waiting for a fish to bite. Or hunting moose over several days. Or a show watching Norwegians knit a Marius gjenser. None of them should speak though, it has to be silent and relaxing. Or watching the midnight sun go up and down in Northern Norway in the summer and in the winter in case an aurora borealis comes up. In any case, there is nothing like Norwegian tv!