We did just fine for 16 years without a TV, but when the time came to think about getting one, one of Jeremy's main arguments in favor was so we would have more exposure to Finnish culture and language. And he was so right. It's not that watching TV tells us what Finnish culture is like - though I think it sometimes does, a little bit. I'm just wary of going down that road because name an American reality TV show and tell me how much it reflects your day-to-day life, am I right? But watching the same TV shows as everyone else in this society DOES tell us about Finnish culture, in that it immerses us in it just a little bit more. And the language exposure is gold.
Here are some of the shows we've been watching.
Haluatko milljonääriksi. Yes, Finland has Who Wants to be a Millionaire? too! I love this one for the language practice as well as the cultural knowledge - questions like which of these four Finnish people was NOT a gold-medalist ski jumper? and so on. And those are the easy questions! Plus, on Saturday, one of the contestants was a previous student teacher for Miriam's class. Her class Whatsapp group went wild for hours over that.
Mestareiden mestari. ("The Championest Champion," as I like to think of it in my own brain. It's actually more like "Champion of Champions.") This show reminds me of The Amazing Race, but toned down. It's about 8 has-been Finnish athletes living in a house in South Africa and competing in various athletic or mental challenges.
Koko suomi leipoo. ("All of Finland Bakes") I got hooked on the Great British Baking Show in the US this summer and burned through seasons one and two on Netflix, only to return to Finland and find that it is not available on Finnish Netflix! So sad. BUT. There is a Finnish version! And they bake Finnish food rather than weird British meat pies! The language is really challenging on this one due to the contestants' regional accents, but subtitles help.
Kaikki vastaan yksi. ("Everyone vs. One") This isn't my favorite, but it is culturally educational. The hosts go around doing ridiculous counting or estimating challenges and a contestant has to compete with the audience to see who can guess the answers correctly.
Gladiaattorit. Do you remember American Gladiators? This is that, but Finnish, and new, and not so (I'm going to go ahead and say it) steroid-y. Magdalena loves this show. For me, the main takeaway (besides language, particularly figuring out the meanings of the Gladiators' stage names - Häjy, for example, which means "bad man") is pointing out to the kids how all the contestants' bodies look different - short, tall, round, thin - but they are all fit and strong and fast.
Pikku kakkonen. This is like Finnish Sesame Street and it is adorable.
The best part about all this TV is that we don't have to watch it on the TV's schedule. I don't know if DVRs are totally obsolete now in general, but for us at least, all these shows are available through each channel's app. You just pull up the app and choose the show you want!