Siri Seljeseth says that she wrote Unge Lovende (Young & Promising) based on her personal experiences, and even before a single episode has aired it is being compared favourably by critics to the hit US series Girls.
Unge Lovende, which airs on NRK in Norway this week, follows three women in their 20s trying to find themselves in Oslo amongst a myriad of social expectations, ambitions and shattered dreams.
The series begins with Elise (Seljeseth) who, having tried her hand at standup in Los Angeles, has returned home to Norway to renew her visa. There she meets up with her girlfriends Nenne (Gine Cornelia Pedersen) and Alex (Alexandra Gjerpen). Nenne is an aspiring writer who works in catering as she searches for a publisher, and Alex’s only focus is to get in to the Theatre Academy despite having already failed three times.
The three girlfriends and now colleagues met whilst studying acting at the NISS (Nordic Institute of Stage and Studio) in Oslo ten years ago and have kept in touch ever since. Whilst Seljeseth was a comedian in Los Angeles, Gjerpen was in theatre in New York, and Pedersen published two books and completed Theatre School.
“We are part of a new generation who understand that no one comes running to you and offers you a job. We must push things ourselves and I think we all three have the urge to create something special,” says Seljeseth.
Like Girls creator Lena Dunham, Seljeseth both writes and plays the lead character in the series which is intended to be a real and raw portrait of today’s young adults. She explains that the premise for the series is based upon her own experience:
“The US Embassy asked me about my life situation, and I replied that I was unmarried, a freelancer and lived at home with my parents when I was in Norway. Their conclusion was that my life was so meaningless here that they envisioned that I would try to remain in the United States.”
“Then I thought about how my life sucks so much that I am not allowed to be a tourist in the US, so it’s time to do something… I saw that there were more great stories here that were larger than my own… I have borrowed much from reality, or at least reality as it was five years ago. Sometimes it feels a bit like standing on the sidelines and peeking into our old lives. But it is important to emphasise that we have created roles that we play. It is not ourselves.”