It’s not unusual for the History Channel to air shows that aren’t exactly history related. However, their new series, “Vikings,” offers history, drama and an attractive leading man. They’re doing something right because they’ve already renewed the series for a second season.
The show follows the tales of legendary Norseman Ragnar Lothbrok, known for his explorations and pillages of foreign lands. It’s all set in early Scandinavia—right at the beginning of the age of the Vikings. It’s not a documentary—it’s an hour of warriors, lovers and conquerors wrapped up in a medieval drama.
Growing up, we typically hear about the Vikings being a ruthless group of people—raping and plundering every village maliciously. While some of it might ring true, “Vikings” shows us another side to their people. They value family, loyalty, resourcefulness and respect, and have faith that their god, Odin, will take them to Valhalla after a job well done in battle. It’s a beautiful, raw representation of an early civilization that is often misunderstood.
Chances are, you won’t recognize a majority of the cast. The one cast member you probably would’ve known is Gabriel Byrne as Earl Haraldson. Don’t get your hopes up though—his character was killed off only a few episodes into the series. This gave the relatively new cast a chance to stand on their own and still gain an impressive audience each Sunday night as it aired. Byrne also happened to play a character that would historically be defeated by Lothbrok.
Speaking of history, there’s a lot of question as to whether it’s historically accurate. The directors and producers have defended it saying that there really isn’t that much recorded on this primitive time. What we know about the Viking era is from oral tradition and from what the early Christians have recorded about their constant conflicts with them.
From the very beginning, you’re drawn into the gritty, intense world with their hauntingly beautiful opening theme. As the show flows, you’ll sense the family dynamics, hear a few cheesy lines, and see the beautiful Irish scenery. There are so many intricate characters—Lothbrok’s monk-turned-slave Athelstan, his shield maiden wife Lagertha, his troubled brother Rollo, his cunning friend Floki, his ambitious son Bjorn, and Haraldson’s mysterious widow Siggy. Lothbrok’s striking blue eyes, scruffy mane and tall, muscled physique offers an appealing view if nothing else.
The series has earned an impressive 8.7 out of 10 rating on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). It also dominates in its time slot with 18-49-year-olds. Though the season finale was Sunday, you can catch the episodes on the History Channel and Hulu, and of course tune in for Season two starting in March 2014. It may not appeal to everyone, as it is incredibly violent and bloody at times. But it’s not going to sugar coat how their people lived centuries ago. It’s a great historical drama—different than “Game of Thrones” or “The Tudors.” Check it out—you might just become enamored with Lothbrok and the early age of the Vikings.