What does an opera singer, actor, hunting videographer, priest, rock ‘n’ roll wrestler, grandmother, folk enthusiast, gay games medalist, surfer and fashion guru, all from the US, have in common?  They are all competitors on a new reality game show called Alt for Norge.  This title directly translates to ‘All for Norway’, encapsulating the idea behind the show – to have a giggle at Norwegian-Americans discovering what real Norway is all about.  Alt for Norge is about bringing 10 Norwegian-Americans to Norway to experience the country and be the last contestant standing, winning an ultimate prize – meeting their Norwegian family.

Flannery Good, Fresno, California, Fashion Guru; Doug Miner, Seattle, Washington, Gay Games Medalist; Deborah Breberg, Dawson, Minnesota, Insurance Agent/Grandmother; Clinton Admire, Fort Worth, Texas, Hunting Videographer; Grant Aaseng, Alexandria. Minnasota, Priest.

They have been advertising this series since before Christmas and I have been eagerly waiting (since before Christmas).  I thought it would be interesting for you to read about the ‘fish-out-of-water’ experiences from the show.  So, here is a review of S01E01:

First was introductions, a little about each contestant, where they come from and their feelings about Norway.  They all have a very romantic view and when they landed in Norway, on the Prekestolen (Pulpit rock) they all had a tear in their eye.  They were told to change clothes and repack their suit cases into a backpack as they were going on a hike to get to their hytte (cabin).  The fashion guru wasn’t too thrilled to be wearing polyester but the folk enthusiast certainly came prepared with her own hiking stick (she even had anther one for the grandma).  On the way down the mountain they trudged, stooping and stumbling.  Passing them up the mountain were jogging Norwegians – parents with kids, young people and older people.  The contestants were very impressed how Norwegians could just run up the mountain.  When they reached their hytte they were greeted and given a supper – rømmegrøt.  They all tried the sour cream and wheat porridge only to balk at the ‘glue’.  No matter how much sugar or cinnamon their added it still was ‘flavourless’.

The next day three brave souls, the wrestler, aka Thoruf Marius the Viking, the surfer and the folk enthusiast ventured into the fjord – for 30 seconds – and quickly fled the cold water.  The folk enthusist said it was like being baptised – all her cells in her body squeezed in and when they popped out again it was as if she was Norwegian.  The other late risers were pleased with their beds commenting that Norwegians sure know how to sleep as their pillows and beds were much softer than they were used to.

The contestants had a very quick Norwegian language lesson.  The Folk Enthusiast was charmed by the teacher saying he was a Norwegian version on Robin Williams.  The teacher asked if the contestants knew any Norwegian words and the priest called out ‘Smorgasbord’!  The teacher didn’t understand at first what he was trying to say but then it clicked.  The teacher tragically cried ‘nooooo’!  That’s a Swedish word.  The priest felt the shame of tainting the language with Swedish.

The group had to pack their own matpakke from a selection of foods.  Not knowing what this was, they loaded up on breads, treats, cheeses, meats and fish.  They showed their pakke and the fashion guru, proud of her collection of goodies, tasted the red jam she spread on her cake – it wasn’t strawberry jam but a fish jelly!  The host revealed to them her matpakke – a slice of bread with cheese and meat.  The contestants commented about the portion size realising that this must be one of the ways Norwegians seem so fit.

Soon they were off to Stavanger city.  The contestants were instructed to go shopping and buy certain items.  The ‘duk’ confused everyone – they were instructed to not buy meat but they saw duk on the list.  The contestants tried to ask the Stavangerværinger (Stavanger folk) for directions and help but many passed by, ignoring them or turning their head pretending not to notice them.  Even though the contestants thought the Norwegians very unhelpful and were quick to compare them to the hospitality of Americans, they failed to see that the Norwegians weren’t avoiding them, necessarily, but the cameras.  The other reason why it was so difficult to communicate was that the contestants were approaching older Norwegians – ones who didn’t really speak English.  Some of these Norwegians tried to help the contestants but the Norwegian descendants couldn’t understand Norwegian.  Eventually the contestants found their way.

Matthew Lovik, Santa Cruz, California, Surfer; Signe Harriday, Harlem, New York, Actor; Maia Surace, Chicago, Illinois, Opera Singer; Kari Tauring, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Folk Enthusiast, Joseph Ruud, Long Lake, Minnesota, Wrestler.

The surfer and the wrestler stopped at a strawberry stall in the street.  The farmer was very happy for them to try a Norwegian strawberry.  The pair were in heaven.  And to prove the point even more, the farmer offered them a Dutch strawberry.  The two Norwegian descendants were mighty pleased that they had tasted the best strawberries in their lives – Norwegian strawberries!  In the end the group found out a duk was a table cloth.

At a BBQ lunch at Hafrsfjord, the site where Norway was gathered into one nation, they all sat down to a nice piece of… whale.  The gay games medalist couldn’t bear to eat it but all the others found the meat mouth watering.  The fashion guru was surprised at how good whale tasted, she wasn’t queazy at all.

At the end of the BBQ the folk enthusiast won the ‘Norwegian Spirit’ award.  It was because of her care and thought in helping the grandma down the mountain.  She was moved to tears and also very pleased that she had won immunity for the elimination challenge next week.  It was a wake up call to everyone that this was a serious competition and they were all serious competitors.

The show is made by TV Norge and you can find out more details from the contestants on the Alt for Norge pages.  Stay tuned for next week’s review. 

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