Why You Should Be Watching The Norwegian Girls

Photo: Courtesy of Channel 4
Life post-Girls has been perfectly fine. Unremarkable. We've been getting on with it, minding our own business and watching a shedload of other similarly superb shows. But – and there is a but – it would be a lie to say we've felt that same gut-wrenching empathy for – or connection to – any of the characters from Game of Thrones, Stranger Things or The Handmaid's Tale. There's just something about watching the lives of young women very similar to ourselves that reassures us that, actually, we're doing alright.
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So we were thrilled to hear about Young and Promising (or Unge Lovende), a new Norwegian-made comedy drama which could fulfil a similar role in your life to Girls. The show is available to UK viewers via All 4’s Walter Presents programme, which collates some of the best TV from around the world, and was made by Norway's NRK, the channel behind the mind-bogglingly popular teen drama Skam, so you know you're in safe hands. It follows the lives of three creative twenty-somethings in Oslo as they navigate the unavoidable confusion, devastation and hilarity of being young today. We know it's problematic to bring every conversation about female-centric millennial TV shows back to Lena Dunham's comedy drama, but Channel 4 has taken that tack in marketing the show. Not to mention the toe-curling relatability we felt when watching the first few episodes, which was pretty familiar.
Photo: Courtesy of Channel 4
Elise, an aspiring comedian played by lead actress Siri Seljeseth, who also wrote the show, is based in LA but forced to return home to renew her tourist visa. Not only is her professional life up in the air but in the first couple of episodes she's forced to confront two awkward situations. Her dad, she learns, is expecting a baby with another woman and her mum is clearly deploying all the strength and composure she can muster to deal with the betrayal. Then there's the situation with her handsome best friend, Anders, who she left in the lurch after they slept together the night before she went to LA.
Meanwhile, Elise's two other best friends and focal characters (played by Seljeseth’s real friends from college), Nene (Gine Cornelia Pedersen) and Alex (Alexandra Gjerpen), aren't having a much better time. Nene, a wannabe author, is fed up of being pigeonholed by the male-dominated publishing world as a hot new feminist voice. “It says something about what it’s like to be a young woman today,” one publisher mansplains to her, but she's not having it. “That’s like saying Moby Dick is about a whale,” she retorts. She finds herself in an intriguing situation when, during a party at which she's waitressing, a senior publisher makes a fool of herself after having one too many drinks.
Photo: Courtesy of Channel 4
We often think of Norway – the third most gender equal country in the world, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index (compared with the UK at 20 and the US at 45) – as a post-patriarchal paradise. But Alex, an aspiring actress auditioning for drama school for the fourth time, is forced to confront the reality when a fellow actor touches her inappropriately during an important scene. Watching her mull over the guilt of breaking out of character and rage over the humiliation she's just experienced in full view of everyone is all too relatable. Young and Promising may not be laugh-out-loud funny like Fleabag, Broad City or Girls, but it will sure as hell make you feel less alone.
Young and Promising is available now on All 4.
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