They're a trio of twentysomething Norwegian girls striving for something better in life. That’s the pitch for Young and Promising, which begins with Elise returning home from her LA stand-up comedy career to get her visa renewed. She’s met at the Oslo airport by her flag-waving besties Alex and Nenne. Both have creative dreams of their own – Alex is desperate to become a professional actress, while part-time caterer Nenne has her sights set on a writing career.
Things don’t go smoothly for our heroines
In the spirit of all fun comedies, our hapless trio can't stop making terrible decisions and falling into situations that might not be their fault, but certainly aren’t going to help them. Nenne’s dealings with publishing wankers reach a Hannah Horvath level of emotional blackmail, while Elise is forced to deal with some idiosyncratic family politics as well as the friend she’s been studiously ignoring since they had sex before she left for the US.
Every scene is a reminder of the slog that young adulthood can be... Although, on the other hand, there’s a whole soundtracked scene of drinking on public transport, pissing in the street, and dancing seductively for the kebab-shop guy that’ll make you feel stupidly nostalgic (or pumped for the weekend, depending on how old you are).
You can stream the first two seasons of Young and Promising right now on SBS On Demand:
It's Girls with a Nordic-edge
From the very first episode, Young and Promising sets a tone that will be familiar to fans of modern women-driven comedy – there’s plenty of cringe material, visceral scatology and relationship humour as well as genuine heart in the connections between the main three characters and the people in their immediate orbit. While the plotlines aren’t anything that would be out of place in an American (or Australian) version of the show, the characters’ reactions to different situations have a Nordic edge. Alex’s boyfriend Kimmo, for example, is a professional handball player who’s more interested in getting himself another helping of bearnaise sauce than hearing how her fourth attempt to get into the Theatre Academy went.
So far the tone and stakes are fairly low-key, featuring some very clever writing and realistic discussions about the politics of grabbing someone’s genitals without warning or dealing with a flatmate’s aggressive veganism. It’s a far cry from the usual hit shows Scandinavia is known for, containing neither creepy unsolved murders nor WWII drama.
Basing the show on the creators own experiences
Siri Seljeseth, who plays Elise, also created and wrote the show – in fact, she based her character’s story on her own experience of being denied entry to America to work as a stand-up comedian. “I tried to get back to Los Angeles to make a stand-up and applied for a tourist visa. But the lady at the embassy thought my life in Norway sounded so sad that she did not believe I would return to Norway so she rejected my request,” she revealed in a Danish interview that we Google Translated (don’t judge us). “On my way home, I walked past a café and wrote three episodes of a series of three girls who fail in life.”