Controversial thriller draws in viewers

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More than 630,000 Norwegians watched the first episode of a new controversial TV thriller that premiered Sunday night, and already has sparked protests from the Russian Embassy in Oslo. That’s because it portrays the Russians as invading Norway to take over the country’s oil and gas industry, at the request of the EU.

The series, called Okkupert (Occupied), is set in the not-too-distant future and revolves around a Norwegian government decision to shut down the country’s oil and gas industry because of the climate damage it causes. That prompts strong protests from the EU, which relies on Norwegian oil and gas.

Called “timely” and credible by critics, the first show started off with the Norwegian prime minister being kidnapped by masked men who, after confronting him with online grilling by an EU official cooperating with the Russians, kill an elderly man out walking his dog because he stumbled upon their helicopter. The Norwegian prime minister is thus threatened into going along with an occupation by Russian forces that take over oil installations to get them back into action. News of the occupation is withheld from the public, though, with the prime minister going on national television to explain his policy reversal on the grounds he was opting for more “dialogue” and that the increased numbers of Russians in Norway were there “to help us.”

The Russian Embassy in real life has complained about the series because it portrays Russians as the aggressors at a time of heightened political tensions over Ukraine. The series also portrays Norway as not only being outside the EU but also having left NATO because of military differences, and thus being “all alone” to defend itself, in the words of the prime minister.

Critics think the fictional series “finally shows Norway with a visionary prime minister,” albeit one who’s initially beaten by external forces. Others think it will boost support for Norway’s Greens party, which long has advocated a shutdown of Norway’s oil and gas industry. Officials at TV2, Norway’s national commercial station that’s airing the series, were pleased by the high viewership. The series will run for the next nine weeks.

newsinenglish.no staff