History Channel / A&E Television Networkshistorically inaccurate portrayal of the viking age in tv show "vikings"

S Sep 02, 2018

Dear History Channel,

Even though it had a fairly strong start (with inaccuraries present mainly for reasons of story telling), your show "Vikings" has virtually nothing to do with history anymore. Here's what kinds of things are wrong and why this is NOT acceptable.

Let me break it down,

1. Costumes and Props:
All of the costumes present in the show not only directly contradict what we, through the power of research and archeology, actually know about clothing and armor of the area (which is actually a fair bit) but also common sense. Not only do the vast majorities of armors and costumes in "Vikings" have nothing to do with what was worn during the time period (e.g. You gave the soldiers of Wessex late Renaissance helmets), but would be simply useless (e.g. Everyone is wearing studded leather armor when in fact we should be seeing LOADS of gambesons and a fair bit of chainmail; these aren't bikers, these are Norsemen and Anglo-Saxons). Don't even get me started on your ludicrous refusal to give the Vikings any manner of helmet whatsoever. If you could afford just one article of armor, you would have chosen a helmet. Leaving your head unprotected is just about the dumbest thing any combatant could do ever. I get the whole "Protagonists don't need to wear helmets cus we need to see their faces" thing, but this is pushing it. If, for the first half of the Viking Age, Vikings blatantly refused to don any head protection whatsoever (aside from their copious and stupidly wild flowing amounts of hair you love giving them), Aella would have easily stopped the Great Heath Army in its tracks. Though most of them are O.K., not all of your weapons and shields are exactly up to snuff.

2. Tactics:
In the first few seasons we saw a degree of tactical combat that was sufficient. By the time we hit season 4, however, it suddenly became so that organized fighting and realistic strategy no longer mattered. Everyone just charged at the enemy and then the combatants broke off into neat little groups to have one on one duels. No battle in the history of man has ever been fought this way. It is counterintuitive and results in the maximum number of casualties humanly possible for both sides. No even somewhat sane soldier or general would ever consent to that act of reckless wastefulness. The best example of this nonsense is the battle between Lagertha's forces and Ivar's. Everyone just peels off and takes their time, doing their thing. This is not a battle, this is a joke.

3. The Actual History:
Every season a few more liberties were taken. This eventually reached a point were mister Hirst felt free not just to alter when events took place and who did what, but felt free to make up MAJOR historical events on his own. You/he went from pretending that the Vikings didn't know England existed (which is funny because some of their ancestors partially colonized it just ca. 300 years before the Viking Age started) to changing who besieged Paris and how it was (almost) taken (though the actual Rollo, clearly not a sibling of Ragnar Lodbrok, was present, though he did NOT become King of France at any point) to inventing a civil war that never happened partially caused by the death of a person who did not die (Sigurd lived to a relatively old age as the KING of Denmark). Of ridiculous historical inaccuracies, there are countless. I could be here all day listing them, if I wanted to. Also, what's up with ignoring the existence of Whales, Cornubia, the Picts/Scots (Kingdom of Alba), and Ireland? Is the Viking Age, which is most strongly associated with the British Isles, really just to do with Anglo-Saxon Britannia? Really?

4. It's Offensive:
One of the many reasons why history has to be handled objectively is because those people were somebody's ancestors. That somebody and those somebodies exist today. When you portray Arabs as stupidly extravagant and perverse (and cannibalistic) without any actual historical basis, you insult the Arabs today. When you depict the Sami as animalistic ruthless tree-dwelling killers when this directly contradicts reality, you insult the Sami people and the many Finns with Sami blood in their veins. When you turn the French (or rather Franks) into pompous inefficient elitists you oversimplify things dramatically, you insult the French of today.

5. Miseducation:
Your show is called the History Channel. Most Americans (and many international audience members too) are all to happy to believe everything you say to be fact. Why? Not only do you outright claim that what you are showing them really happened, you even have the audacity to call yourself The *History* Channel. What you wind up teaching the public is, as we've established, unrelated to reality. You're perpetuating myths and creating new ones - nothing more. Instead of thinking of naked savages with horned helmets and ridiculously shaped axes who kill and plunder willy nilly, the average viewer thinks of studded leather wearing people with long unruly hair (who refused to wear goddamn helmets) who just follow leaders without reasonable incentives. You're the "History Channel." Why can you not understand history in logical terms? A historical phenomenon is the result of something. Examine that. Understand and then realistically represent economic and social factors for Christ's sake!

You're misinforming the public. This isn't any better.

Vikings is not the only one of your shows afflicted with historical inaccuracies. Perhaps even worse than Vikings is "Knightfall". Let me put it this way, it was so awful I, as someone who actually gives a crap about history, couldn't even make it past the two episodes. At least the writing of Vikings was relatively cohesive and engaging for the first two and a half seasons or so. Do humanity a favor and rename yourself to something more appropriate or set a MUCH MUCH MUCH higher standard.

At this point you owe us, the viewers, an apology.

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