Shame

skam

In my generation, you get daily recommendations on what to watch. “You have to see Game of Thrones!” “West World is the best thing on TV right now!” “Once you get through the first season of House of Cards, it gets really good!”

I am rather picky when it comes to TV series. Either a story captures me in the pilot or I get on with my life. I mean, really, my life span is limited, I can’t spend half a day watching before a show starts getting good. That return on investment does not really work out for me.

But I am also a herd animal and I have a certain interest to hänga med i snacket. When Lil’ Pesto joined the office, he made a passionate plea for the Norwegian show everyone is talking about nowadays: Skam (Shame). Hours after that, one of my best friends whatsapped me she watches it. Then my Grey’s Anatomy buddy mentioned on Facebook she watches it.

Skam, titled after an emotion that is rather distinct among teenagers, was originally a project to make the Norwegian State TV’s internet site more attractive to a young audience. The show is aired online, the characters have instagram profiles, the creator travelled through all of Norway to ask young people what life is like for them.

Okay, I thought, I will give it another try. Because obviously, the great trendspotter I am (…), I had tried it weeks ago and been all like, “Why would I watch a show that is basically my life 15 years ago?”

Now, two weeks later, I’m in season two and still can’t put my finger to why I just have to watch three episodes in one evening. Is it because there are only girl lead roles, all  carefully characterised and played by amazingly skilled young actresses? Is it because it is all in Norwegian and it sounds so charming and ridiculous at the same time? Is it because it is a kind of regression into teen age, just with some happy endings? Or am I just trying to have a topic of conversation with my intern?

I am actually not sure. I just know that it’s short episodes and I have found fierce love in my heart for my favorite character. If you don’t live in Sweden, get a VPN to be able to access SVTPlay and watch what everyone’s talking about, online and offline. (Actually, how does anyone even survive without a VPN? It’s like being cut off from half of the world. The Swedish world.)

P.S.: And it is not really my life 15 years ago. We didn’t have Jodel back then.

img_8995

Smart advertisers know about the Skam hype. “Your body needs potatoes”, McDonald’s quotes from season 2.

img_9003

Lil’ Pesto’s favorite is Vilde, so I put up a poster of her for motivational reasons.

Citatsamling del 27

Det är nästan som om jag är Jesusbarnet och du är de tre visen männen! (Kollegan när jag berättar att hon ska få tre presenter.)

Det är lådan med Volvo, choklad och födelsedagskassan.  – Det är den lyckliga lådan!

Jag ska inte lägga mig i. Bara litegrann.

Jag har inte dumpat!…speciellt många.

Divertissement

020

Opposite my office there is a lot of mysterious & going on

Tonight, my friend Tabea from Uppsala graced my apartment with her presence. We talked non-stop and the fact that I did not take a single photo speaks in favor of our encounter. She also brought me the two items I covet most from Sweden: Mavala Las Vegas nail polish (can’t find the same color in Germany) and my women’s magazine amelia. Ah, I’m thrilled – I feel like I’d have to cancel work tomorrow to delve into the magazine (and to watch the rest of “The Good Wife” and German “Ku’damm 56” which is being recommended to me from all sides, and of course continue reading the compelling “Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt which keeps me awake at night).

Why, no I wouldn’t cancel work when the week is so short anyway with Easter coming up. Today I sent invitations to twelve sister organisations for Swedish young professionals all over the world to invite them to our jubilee event I am planning. So interesting to learn where there are Swedish representations and what they do and to send out letters (remember I am obsessed with snail mail) to exotic cities and obscure street names. Then there is also more interns to meet and we’ve got an early fika tomorrow (as Friday is a holiday). So of course my feet will hit the ground with anticipation tomorrow morning.

Productive Saturday

066

Recently, I have been wondering a lot about how I managed to be so active and do so many things when I still lived in Sweden. I literally participated in everything [in my opinion] cool going on in Uppsala and in Stockholm, I’ve visited every museum and cinema and was on top of things. Mind you, I did do that alongside working and studying at the same time, so it can’t be that I just had sooo much free time. Nowadays, I pass my free time with cleaning, grocery shopping and tax declarations, but every once in a while, I retrieve some of my exploratory spirit and it makes me so very content when I manage to do something out of banal daily routine. Like today when I cleaned and took a trip to Benrath Palace and hosted a little Melodifestivalen party and now I even blog about it.

My friend Henrike and I went to the Benrath Palace because a) the weather was sunny for the third day in a row (a sensationan unheard of in Dizzel!), b) the new app “Duu” by the local newspaper suggested a guided tour through “Hidden Rooms” c) I had obtained a coupon booklet for new inhabitants of Dizzel where you get discount on local sights. The bad part was only that the newspaper’s app never mentioned you had to sign up for the tour which was quickly fully booked so we had to take the regular tour which was also interesting (isn’t everything historic awesomely fascinating?) but sadly, we didn’t get to go inside the attic or see the false ceilings. We did however see a palace that took 20 years to build and then never was used by their owners, Prince Elector Carl Theodor and his wife Elisabeth Auguste because Düsseldorf was too remote (their words, not mine…)

The palace now belongs to the city of Düsseldorf and I guess it’s not the worst crib to have, actually. They’ve invited the Queen and Mahatma Gandhi there and forced them to put felt slippers over their shoes to preserve the precious floors.

We learned that because this was a pleasure palace, there were no signs of power or potency but instead the lions greeting the visitors lay peacefully like kittens and the rooms were decorated with godesses, girl angels (rather unsual) and the seasons. The palace has only six rooms and a hall and the Prince and Princess resided on the ground floor which is very uncommon as the belétage (on the first floor) is usually reserved for the blue-blooded. But in a summer house like this, they wanted to emphasize the nearness to nature so that Elisabeth Auguste could step out of her bedroom through the window to her private garden.

062

A true event manager, I kept thinking about how you could arrange festive events here

We got home to my place just in time before my Swedish co-worker and her mom sought Melodifestivalen-asylum with us. Her mom was visiting from Stockholm and wanted to see the final of the Swedish preselection for Eurovision. Tonight was actually the reason I scrounged the flat screen tv from my stepdad: it is 100 times cooler to watch Melodifestivalen on an actual screen than on my mini laptop. Henrike and I rearranged my living room furniture in order to make it easy to watch. The entire two hours I was bemused by the fact that most people always have their sofas positioned so that the tv is the center. (I realize I sound like an egghead.) In any case, watching Melodifestivalen like a real grown up was a true pleasure even if the wrong person won, I mean, obviously Ace Wilder had the most Eurovision-compatible song? But I suppose Sweden does not actually want to win again as it is a costly victory.

My closing pondering is this: Have you ever realized how many snacks you have at home when you think you have nothing to offer? I could feed a children’s birthday party with the left-overs!

073

I realize the mattreses and bunting behind the screen don’t look too grown-uppy

Under the spell

Borgen

Photo: dr.dk

I am a little worried my co-workers will soon forbid me to talk about it. I am not even sure when it started but it hasn’t been long. It has led to very unexpected consequences in my behavior.

Are you wondering what I am talking about? Borgen, of course. I’ve briefly mentioned the Danish series before in a post, trying downplay my addiction by naming it in a parenthesis, but let’s face it: I am under the Danish spell. I’ve watched 30 episodes in two weeks and told everyone in my environment that they have to start watching. I try to explain to my co-workers that they need to see it so we can talk about it in order to strengthen our team relationship. I have started to love the Danish language and most uncommon for me started re-watching the entire show just two days after seeing the last episode. I never watch things twice. 

Borgen is the story about Birgitte Nyborg Christensen who unexpectedly becomes Denmark’s first female prime minister. The series won numerous prizes and has been sold to tons of countries; Britain is even showing it in Danish. (In Germany, of course, we dubbed it horribly and showed it on the intellectual channel arte…) Critics have reviewed Borgen as part of the Scandinavian Cultural Imperialism that had several brilliant Scandi-series being exported to the world (and I suppose the fact that Swede Max Martin writes every hit song in the pop music world adds to the Cultural Imperialism.)

Played by the wonderful Sidse Babett Knudsen, Prime Minister Birgitte is an idealistic  woman who “always does the right thing” as my co-worker (the one who’s watched it) put it. She is married to a man any modern woman would want to be married to (when she gains weight and can’t fit into her dress, he tells her the dry cleaner shrunk it and buys her a new in a bigger size, handing it to her conveniently when she is super stressed about a TV apperance, and of course he wraps the Christmas presents for the kids). Principled Birgitte is faced with all the typical issues of politics during her term (from dictator state visits to prostitution laws) and maneuvers the Danish coalition politics gracefully but not stress-free. På köpet you get stunning views of Copenhagen and rooms all styled in Danish design.

capture2

Even though I certainly am interested in politics, the actual appeal for me is the interplay between statsministern and the media. Birgitte has a skilled spin doctor who helps her to handle the media and the media is portrayed by his ex-girlfriend Katrine (played by superb Birgitte Hjort Sorensen) who is an ambitious reporter. It’s all about how to communicate what and when, what not to say and how to avoid scandal. The storyline is actually so real that in my second Borgen week, when our German vice chancellor claimed on the news that he had signed a bill that had been changed afterwards, I was briefly confused about what was reality and what was Borgen.

“Borgen makes it clear that even a virtuous politician can’t be as decent as she’d like. Birgitte backs proposals she doesn’t quite believe in to enact bigger policies that she does. She works with ministers she’d like to fire but keeps on because it would cost her too much to can them”, NPR writes. “And, she’s loyal to her old friends … until she has to sacrifice them when they’ve become a liability.  Borgen reminds us what it’s easy to forget in these polarized times — that no political decision is ever pure or simple, and that it’s childish to think otherwise”. A study conducted by the Copenhagen Business School even found that the series had stimulated political debate in Denmark and combatted Danish voter apathy.
borgen-season-2-33719_1

If you’ve watched House of Cards or The West Wing and think you’ve seen it all, trust me that you haven’t. One of the things I love about Borgen is that it is not American. It’s like a breeze of fresh air to be occupied with something else than dysfunctional Washington. Also: Female role models everywhere, hello! If you have the faintest trust in my judgement, you should really watch Borgen. (To add to your entertainment, you can afterwards read this very nice comment by The Guardian about each episode.)