Moata Tamaira argues that Vikings is really just Outrageous Fortune but with longships instead of V8s.
If I’m honest, my knowledge of medieval European history, particularly that of Scandinavia is sketchy at best. It’s pretty much limited to a deep appreciation of True Blood’s Eric Northman with a smattering of “that time I had read Beowulf at Uni”.
But after watching three seasons of Lightbox’s blood and raunch drama, Vikings (season four launched recently), I feel qualified enough to say that the Vikings were definitely the bogans of the sea.
If I were to describe to you a show about a family (and their cohorts) who like to drink, shag, and nick other people’s stuff then you’d be forgiven for thinking I was talking about Kiwi classic Outrageous Fortune. The only real difference is that one of them is set in Scandinavia and the other in West Auckland, though let’s be fair, they’re both pretty rugged in places.
Still need convincing? Let’s break down how the Vikings characters compare with their Outrageous Fortune counterparts.
Ragnar Lothbrok / Wolfgang West
Ragnar Lothbrok is a wily Viking with an eye on the main chance. He’s ambitious, devious and smart, with a coterie of loyal friends who’ll follow him into battle/a stoush at the pub. Ragnar is a natural born plunderer and proud of it and he always manages to come away unscathed from situations that would be deadly to anyone else. He’s devoted to his family and his hot, formidable wife but he’s also the kind of guy who will make a dodgy call that could endanger them all if he thinks he stands a chance of getting away with it. The only real difference between Ragnar Lothbrok and Wolf West is that the latter would never be seen dead with that many plaits in his hair.
Lagertha / Cheryl West
Ragnar’s old lady, Lagertha is a total badass who can hold her own in battle – and if you mess with her kids she will probably stab you in the neck with a broken bottle. It also seems likely she’d make a damn good (salted) fish pie. When she’s not going along with her husband’s latest scheme, Lagertha is shagging him up against a wall within earshot of the family goat. And she don’t care.
Rollo / Van and Jethro West
Ragnar’s brother Rollo has all the ambition and shiftiness of the smart West twin, Jethro – but sadly for him, he only has the intellect of Van West to back it up. Wrap that up in the physique (and beard) of a French rugby-playing caveman and you have a fearsome warrior who’s easily manipulated. Rollo is a simple man. He just wants to drink, fight, fornicate, and have everyone think he’s a bloody legend. Is that too much to ask?
Athelstan / Judd
As a former Christian monk, Athelstan is an outsider amidst Pagans. Initially appalled by all the gleeful axe-based violence, debauchery and worship of false gods (may you rest in peace, Lemmy), Althelstan eventually assimilates into the Viking/Bogan lifestyle and becomes a trusted member of the clan.
Floki / Munter
Floki (played by Gustaf “brother of Alexander” Skarsgård) tends to ramble semi-coherently while being a crazy genius in other respects, namely ship-building (Vikings are as obsessed with ships as bogans are with V8s). He’s both incredibly loyal and something of a philosopher. Remember when Munter would come out with something remarkably wise midway through a sesh? That’s Floki all over.
The Seer / Grandpa West
Rather than a caravan decorated in porn, The Seer has a shack decorated in bones (it’s very “if Martha Stewart were a serial killer” chic). Even though his advice rarely makes sense since he speaks in riddles, various characters feel compelled to consult with him on important matters, but there’s always a somewhat creepy or gross price to pay. With The Seer it’s a straightforward lick of his palm, with Ted West it could always be much, much worse. They both look like they could use a good steam clean.
So there you have it. The proof is incontrovertible: Vikings and bogans share not only a fondness for excessive facial hair, but a tendency to solve problems with violence, intoxicants and sex. Here’s to the Wests and the Lothbroks, bogan brothers in arms.
Kick back after a day out pillaging by watching every episode of Vikings on Lightbox
The Spinoff’s television coverage is made possible by our foundation sponsor, Lightbox – please support us by subscribing to this fantastic service, with a FREE 30 day trial.
The Spinoff Daily gets you all the day's best reading in one handy package, fresh to your inbox Monday-Friday at 5pm.