In watching this episode you get a sense of the type of people that Norwegians like. They don’t go for the show off or the schemer and they certainly don’t care too much for braggers or trolls. The bunch of Americans that have been chosen for the show are absolutely lovely and that by no means makes for a boring reality series.
This week the Norwegian-Americans were in Oslo for Syttende Mai (May 17) celebrations. May 17 is Norway’s National Day of Independence. The group were excited to be celebrating in Norway’s capital city. On arriving in Oslo, one of the first things the hunting videographer noticed was how short the buildings were. He was used to skyscrapers in cities. Of course, any Norwegian will tell you that buildings are kept short in Norway so the sun can warm up the streets and there won’t be too big a snow dump off buildings.
The contestants found themselves at the Royal Palace at the end of the Karl Johans Gate in red or blue overalls. They were dressed up as ‘russ‘, a term used to describe both a month long school graduation celebration, like a right of passage, and the kids celebrating it. Up rolled two russ buses onto the palace grounds. The fashion guru was a little dubious about joining in with the rowdy kids. The red team, that included the priest, the wrestler, the actor, the fashion guru and the opera singer, jumped on board the boy’s bus and the rest in blue on the girl’s bus. The first thing that the reds asked the russ-boys was how to win. The tactic was simple ‘first you need to get drunk’ was the teenagers reply.
During russ it is custom to go through a series of challenges to win tokens for your hat. Some were easy and some, well… were lacking taste. But the honorary russ were not too scared to join in the fun. And there are some interesting things we found out about the contestants: The wrestler and the priest can drink a beer at the same time while peeing on a fence. The fashion guru was the only one who balked at eating a burger in two bites. But she wasn’t afraid to tongue wrestle with the opera singer. The wrestler was willing to pash the priest to get more points for the team but ended up smooching a teenage russ instead (a boy who was weirdly blurred out). The grandma drank a bottle of wine in under 20 minutes. The priest ate a doner kebab off the shop floor with just his mouth and drank beer with two tampons in his mouth. A trendy russ in rapper-style declared to him ‘you’re gonna get rejected at the pearly gates!’ The wrestler took to dancing and there was more drinking of beer – with, of course, no hands. The points were added and the red team lost 45/44. They had to face the elimination challenge the next day. The gay games medalist was very diappointed to be on the losing team and the ‘f’ word slipped out. I think one thing the contestants might not have been told is that Norwegian TV isn’t really censored.
Early in the morning the winners were woken by a children’s marching band out their window. It was May 17. Left in their rooms was a special gift – a traditional Bunad from their place of Norwegian origin. The surfer thought it was a pirate outfit until he read the card. Watching the folk enthusist discover her Bunad was extremely touching. Immedately when she saw the Bunad she knew what it was. With the card shaking in her hands she said ‘I’m 42 and finally found out what I look like’. The hunting videographer said he felt like a real Norwegian.
The winning group stood along Karl Johans Gate cheering at the Children’s parade that was en route to the palace. With all boldness they jumped the rope and joined in with the children to some Norwegian’s dismay. I guess no one told them that it was a children’s parade and everyone were in their school groups. They walked past the palace balcony waving to the royal family. They were very excited to see their first king.
The losers of the russ gathered at an elementary school. The elimination challenge was to learn the Norwegian national anthem ‘Ja, vi elsker’ in two hours and then sing it to a crowd of Norwegians. The competitors walked around the school asking for help. The actor had help from two boys who took their coaching seriously. The opera singer tried to recruit a lady with a hijab to help her learn the anthem. However, the Muslim lady was an immigrant and didn’t know the song. The priest learnt how important the National Anthem was to him. It reminded him of his father who used to sing the song often in a Norwegian men’s choir. The memories moved him to tears. The Norwegian voters, the crowd, were looking for heart and feeling in the performances. The competitors performed their solos with the accopmany of the school band. Each contestant, even the opera singer, was scared but gave it their best. I think the priest summed up the contestant’s attitudes well when he said ‘I get to sing’. In the end it was the fashion guru, Flannery Good who was sent home.
Back at the homestead the Spirit Award was given to the wrestler for his dancing and kissing. He gets to enjoy immunity for next week’s challenge. Even though this week seemed to have a dip in momentum, barring the russ, it drew out tender stories of ‘home’. But next week certainly looks fun!
Unfortunately, to get clips for you I have to wait til someone puts them up on Youtube the following week. Here are some Youtube clips of the first episode:
Also, Doug Miner, one of the contestants from Alt for Norge, stopped by to comment on last episode. Here is his Doug Miner Official Fan Page on Facebook so you can find out what went on behind the scenes, read comments and see extra pics of his journey.
Kari Tauring aslo stopped by but she doesn’t have an offical fan Facebook account as yet. But here is her website: http://www.karitauring.com/