State of Happiness

Rating 8.4
Streamer Netflix
Seasons 1
Episodes 8 x 45 mins

State of Happiness tells the strangely gripping story of how the backward fish-town of Stavanger became Norway’s oil capital in the 60s and 70s. Whilst it might sound like Dallas in the snow, critics reckon it’s a lot better than that and that it also bears a passing similarity to Mad Men.

Alison Rowat in The Herald looks at the drama through Scottish eyes dreaming of oil and rain, and she thinks State of Happiness is a “grand, soapy drama about class, love, family, and at the centre of it all, money, money, money. Add in the 1960s clothes, cars and period soundtrack, and this was Scandi drama for anyone who believes they have had enough of Scandi drama.”

In The Times Carol Midgley reckons that oil rigs, fish farms and a Norwegian winter were not promising omens for a drama series, but she is won over by the series’ “hypnotic charm” and loves “its show-not-tell style of storytelling… Little spoken, much said. Sometimes the oddest recipe can turn out tastier than it looks on paper.” The Guardian’s Euan Ferguson calls it a “wonderful find” and thinks that “By focusing on three or four families, the makers have done a wise thing: portrayed, distilled and lucidly, the great changes then afoot. More crucially, they have given us a Scandi tale that did not open with a spreadeagled body, but a spreadsheet.”

We think State of Happiness is Nordic Noir moving on to a new level. Although it originally premiered on Netflix in 2018, it has only just arrived on free-to-air BBC Four, but it still feels as fresh as a Norwegian cod, straight from the net.

First shown May 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.

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