5 Reasons to Watch #Vikings
Petra Filipová es doctoranda del programa de Estudios Culturales y de Género de la Universidad Pavol Jozef Safarik de Kosice, Eslovaquia, y becaria del programa de co-tutela predoctoral KVARK que esta institución desarrolla en colaboración con la Universitat de les Illes Balears, entre otras. Su investigación se centra en cuestiones de identidad de género y sexual en la ficción televisiva estadounidense. Aquí nos ofrece sus cinco razones para ver Vikingos.
1. Michael Hirst (creator): The creator of the series has extensive experience with projects concerning historical figures. He was the head writer, creator and executive producer of the Showtime’s The Tudors (2007), produced the show The Borgias (2010) and co-produced the TV series Camelot (2011). The experience with adapting history for TV allowed Hirst to adapt an old Norse legend of Ragnar Lodbrok into an entertaining and engaging show, premiering in 2013 and currently running its third season in 2015.
2. History: Some dedicated history fans offer stern criticism on the somewhat lax approach to the accuracy of historical facts on the show, such as the depiction of Viking government and legal system, liberties taken with the portrayal of some temples, or the supposed lack of knowledge about the existence of the British Isles. Nonetheless, Vikings still provides a refreshing insight into the way the historical Norsemen lived and fought, and while the show might not be the most accurate tool for teaching Viking history with all its tiny nuances and details, it definitely fulfils the goal of stirring the viewers’ interest in the era. All in all, considering that the show is meant to be popular rather than documentary, every episode provides enough on-screen authenticity to be appealing to the viewer.
3. Ragnar Lodbrok: The show draws on the old Norse legend of a king and hero by the same name, mentioned in several Norse texts, such as the 9th-century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle or a skaldic poem Ragnarsdrápa, as well as the 12th-century chronicle Gesta Danorum. Lodbrok, whose name roughly translates as “Hairy Breeches”, was supposedly a legendary king, even though historians have come to associate the legendary deeds of Ragnar with several historical Viking heroes and rulers. In Vikings, the character of Ragnar is brilliantly portrayed by Travis Fimmel, previously known for the crime drama series The Beast (2009), where he starred alongside Patrick Swayze. Fimmel’s soft-spoken, mischievous Ragnar cracks, if not breaks, the stereotype of a brutish, morose Viking warrior, and despite the large amount of blood spatter on the show, it is remarkably easy and satisfying to sympathize with Ragnar and root for the man who rises from his status as a mere farmer through a mixture of bravery, trickery, good thinking and incredible luck.
4. Lagertha: Even though the show definitely cannot be accused of being overly focused on the female viewer, there is one woman who seems to rise above the general gender stereotyping on the show, perhaps easily written off as a nod to historical accuracy. Lagertha, Ragnar’s wife, reminds the audience that Viking women could be accomplished and fierce warriors standing equal to their male counterparts. Lagertha’s personality appears well-rounded and intriguing, bringing to light the many possible facets of a woman’s life in the Viking society as a wife and a mother as well as a shield-maiden and a proficient protector of her family, her people and her land. Brought to screen by Katheryn Winnick, a Canadian actress of Ukrainian descent previously known for guest-starring on several shows (House, Bones, Law & Order, CSI, Criminal Minds), Lagertha undergoes significant development throughout the series while retaining the essential integrity of the character, mingling physical and psychological strength with love, loyalty and pride.
5. Conflict: While one of the pivotal points of Vikings is the Norsemen’s invasion of the British Isles, the show also provides a subtler conflict between the various characters – that is, the conflict between Christianity and the Vikings’ pagan beliefs, rituals and traditions. The show begins with Ragnar Lodbrok returning from a raid on a British monastery and bringing home a Christian monk, who first serves as a spoils-of-war slave and later graduates to the role of a friend and advisor for Ragnar. The monk, Athelstan, has to overcome significant hurdles on his road to the understanding of the pagan tradition, fluctuating throughout the seasons between acceptance of the pagan way of life and repentant return to Christianity. The later seasons continue to build on the conflict between the two religions and cultures on an even larger scale. Interestingly enough, despite the primary focus on Vikings, the show manages an acceptable level of impartiality and does not truly push the viewer to perceive either side of the conflict as the uncompromising villain.