Shadin Al-Dossari ‘18/ Emertainment Monthly Book Section Assistant Editor
The hit Norwegian show, Skam, is one of those shows that became internationally viral through social media; Skam has Twitter and Tumblr to thank. The reason it’s so accessible globally is because fans made the effort to create subtitles in multiple languages and posted them online. Translating to “shame” in English, the show focuses on the lives of teens in high school. Throughout the various seasons, the show highlights the Norwegian high school tradition called Russ. Participating students obtain and design a bus with a group of friends, then proceed to travel around and party. It’s sort of a graduation rite (as can be seen with William in season 2). Russ culture is a big part of the show and allows foreigners to get an inside look at Norwegian youth culture.
Fresh, but relatable characters
It’s fair to say that no one expected the show that originally began online to blow up as much as it has. Some of the actors still have regular jobs (Josefine Pettersen who plays Noora is a telemarketer). Loyal fans were drawn to the show for its humor, and the relatability that it provides. The show showcases the classic cliques that can be found in any high school; this is most clearly seen with a group of Russ boys dubbed “The Penetrators.” One thing that sets Skam apart from other young adult shows is the normality and relatability of the teens. Often, the actors appear sans layers of makeup, so they look like the average teen complete with acne and tired appearances. On top of that, the characters are portrayed by actors who are basically unknown and are only a couple of years older than the characters they are portraying; it’s always nice to have fresh faces on TV.
There’s something for everyone
Taking a cue from the hit show Skins, each season of Skam revolves around the arc of one character. Season one focuses on Eva Mohn, and her relationship with her boyfriend Jonas, as well as her self-identity. This season, in particular, focuses on the importance of friendship. Each girl has a distinct personality, and, though they do occasionally butt heads, they ALWAYS stand up for each other. A great aspect of this season is that the audience gets a sense of who everyone is. You’ve got the girl who jokes about everything, the insecure girl, the girl who doesn’t take anyone’s shit, the girl who speaker her mind and the girl who just wants to fit in; these characters are loved because fans can see themselves in them.
Season two follows Noora Saetre, the outspoken feminist of the group, and her relationship with William (leader of “The Penetrators”). While the focal point of this season is Noora trying to balance her feelings for William with her independence, it also deals with sexual assault and violence.
Season three is all about Isak Valtersen coming to terms with his sexual identity. Another important issue addressed is mental illness. Season three is a fan favorite because of its realistic depiction of an LGBT relationship. Another plus is that each episode can be anywhere from 15 to 50 minutes long, making the series perfect for binging.
While the show is nowhere near perfect in the diversity department, it does focus on underrepresented characters. There’s a whole season dedicated to a gay character, and one of the main characters is a Muslim hijab-wearing girl. Sana is the sassy, outspoken and loyal girl who is also a dedicated and proud Muslim. She is often the voice of reason who breaks things down logically and helps other characters come to terms with things they were struggling with. This is so important. It’s rare that a show portrays Islam in an accurate, non-negative light. This is just one of the areas in which Skam actively tries to break stereotypes. At its core, Skam preaches acceptance – of sexuality, religion, people’s choices – which is particularly relevant and necessary in today’s times.
The verdict is still out on who will be the star of season four, though most fans are hoping for either Even (Isak’s boyfriend) or Sana, the lone Muslim girl.