The search for my next insomnia hero - and my love for European rail travel - brought me to "Slow TV: Train Ride Bergen to Oslo."
It's outside of the parameters of what TV is traditionally defined as. There's no plot, no characters, no music or dialogue. Just a train heading to Oslo. For 7 hours. Sometimes, you spend several unsettling minutes staring into the darkness of a tunnel (like that time with that creepy guy, RITE MEGAN?) the train passes through. Mostly, you're treated to the majestic Norwegian countryside and the occasional voiceover reminding passengers about the snacks in the cafe car.
The program isn't entertaining. The visuals are downright boring. My favorite part has to be the audio. There's something incredibly hynotic about the sound of a train in motion. Maybe it transports me to a place where I can pretend I'm safely, comfortably and excitingly headed to the next stop on my backpacking trip. Or maybe I just enjoy the repetitive rush of the train on the tracks as it blocks out any potential noise from waking me up.
I don't just use Slow TV to fall asleep. Working from home this summer, it's been really comforting to throw on in the background while I write or answer emails. Slow TV is the senior cat of entertainment. It doesn't ask much of you, just wants to sit on your lap and hang out. It's the diametric opposite of something like "Veep," with its blink and you'll miss it references and jokes. Both have value, but Slow TV feels really special.
Not into trains? You're in luck. There are 11 different episodes of Slow TV, most of which are much shorter than this 7 hour ride. National Knitting Night is intriguing in a way that takes you back to sitting on your parent's lap listening to their boring adult conversation. There's 4 solid hours of knitting talk - in Norweigian. I personally foresee myself using the Firewood Morning, Evening and Night episodes a lot this fall.
Is Slow TV the new ASMR? I'm not sure. But there's a whole new industry cropping up around the idea. This 3 hour video of people at a library just makes me feel like I'm at work on a boring day (though the Man Bun juggling at 45 minutes in is pretty exciting). Maybe that's the point.
Go into Slow TV with your expectations tempered. You're not there to be entertained. You're there to be a fly on the wall.