Review of Historieätarna (2012)

Moving picture, 20 hours

Seen in 2016.

A Swedish adaptation of the British series spawned from Edwardian Supersize Me (2008). This in turn appears to be based on the experience of reading historical texts on food. See for instance extract 2 in volume III of G. G. Coulton’s Life in the Middle Ages (1910), from the 14th letter by Peter of Blois “to the Royal Chaplains of Henry II”, on the miserable diet of a travelling lord’s following, which makes the everyday come to life. Eating historical foods is potentially useful for driving home an understanding of the past, but the motif is awkwardly merged here with reality TV.

Looking at people eating is less useful than eating, whether for historical or practical purposes. Understandably, the focus here is mostly on the wealthy, on taste and on appearance, not on how the food was procured etc. The format gets a bit stale, especially the video diaries, which are supposed to be reality-TV confessionals. The comedic elements are pretty good, especially the parody of Flashdance (1983). The historiography is good enough for entertainment purposes, but I generally wanted the experts cut less closely.

References here: Bye bye Sverige (2017), Rapport från 2050 (2020).

moving picture non-fiction reality TV series