Move over 13 Reason Why, the ultimate modern teen TV show is here, and it's the Scandinavian series called Skam. Although the title translates to "Shame" from Norwegian to English, the production is anything but, and it has quickly become an international phenomenon that has now even been picked up by Simon Fuller for a US remake.
Each season of Skam focuses on a different student at the Hartvig Nissen High School, giving a window into the different worlds of the characters and the challenges they face throughout the year. While the first two seasons focus on Eva and Noora going through first relationship experiences, the third looks at the life of Isak, a gay teen who has to come to grips with his own sexuality before revealing it to others. (Side note: Season 3 features by far one of the most touching love stories I have seen in either movies or TV in a while.) The fourth and final season (*sob*) focuses on Sana, a muslim girl who has to face not only Islamophobia from fellow students (and even friends) but also come to terms with her faith as a new relationship blossoms.
Check out the Season 1 trailer:
There's a lot to love about Skam: From the innovative way it's released to the way it deals with all manner of hard-hitting issues, Skam has gone above and beyond what we've come to expect from a teen drama. So check out 13 reasons why you should get on board Skam train, if you aren't already!
1. The Way It's Released Is Spontaneous And Clever
When Skam was airing (September 2015 – June 2017), snippets of the episode would come out on their website at random times during the week, as if they were happening in real time. So if the girls were off to a rager on a Friday night, that's when the clip would be released too. At the end of the week, all of the snippets would be put together and the full episode (going anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes long) would be posted.
2. The Actors Are Amazing Non-Professionals
All the actors on Skam had never been in a production before, so they've got a natural vibe to them that just doesn't come across as much with actors who have been in the limelight for years — not to mention the fact that they're actually the same age as their characters. However, just because they're new to the screen doesn't mean they can't act; in fact, they're all so convincing it's easy to feel like you know them.
3. There's Plenty Of High School Drama
Wild house parties, hot guys, and schoolyard bullying are all part of daily life at Hartvig Nissen High. If you're looking for a bit of high school drama that doesn't take place in your typical rich kid setting, look no further.
4. The Characters Are Complex
Given the fact that each season focuses on a different character, we have the time to get to know the individuals as they face their own personal trials and tribulations, dealing with real-life issues in their own unique ways.
No character is one-dimensional, and we often discover hidden strengths and weaknesses that pop up when they're confronted with challenging situations. Take the story of Isak for example; Season 3 follows him as he goes from sullen teen trying to get girls to impress his friends to an out-of-the-closet man with a hot boyfriend. That journey is hardly an easy one, and we see him grapple with his own sexuality, worry about the reactions he will get from others, including his unstable parents, and also deal with the consequences of mental illness. In Season 1 we see Isak pull some messed up shit with his friend Eva, and Skam doesn't skirt around the fact that he's not 100% perfect — just like anyone. Isak goes through the motions and comes out having learned, and is all the better for it.
5. They've All Got Skin And Makeup Imperfections
Whether it's a little blemish not obliterated by a top-notch makeup team or a bit of mascara smudged on an eyelid, Skam keeps everyone looking real. But what's even more heartening to note is that the characters looking like everyday people doesn't take away any of the magic of the show, and certainly doesn't diminish the attractiveness of the characters. Take note, Hollywood!
6. They Deal With Real-World Situations In A Heartfelt Way
Each season of Skam focuses on a variety of issues, and the series is able to tackle things like relationship/friendship problems, eating disorders, xenophobia, coming out, sexual assault, revenge porn, and faith in creative and meaningful ways.
Take for example Noora and Vilde's conversations about eating disorders. At first, Noora notices Vilde isn't eating and tries an abrupt approach, telling her that she knows what she's doing and she has to stop. However, when that continues, Noora then has a conversation with her about the nutrients in potatoes while they make tortilla together, telling her they keep the skin looking young. Later, Vilde herself says the same thing to Noora when she refuses to eat. It's a small but heartfelt, realistic way of talking about these issues that doesn't get overly dramatic or cheesy.
7. They've Got The Social Media Strategy Down
One of the things that makes Skam particularly relevant is its way of using social media to make the characters seem even more real. Each character has their own social media page that they use just as any normal teen would, posting pictures of themselves with friends, hanging out with their boyfriends, and all that good stuff. The use of social media really allows for the characters to come alive off-screen as well, increasing the feeling of realness as they update their accounts like anyone else would.
Also, extra points to Noora for repping the Log Lady from Twin Peaks!
8. Noora Is All The Lipstick Goals
Seriously, it is a bold look but it will make you want to head straight for the MAC counter.
9. It Sets A Realistic Example For Good Communication In Difficult Situations
One of the greatest things about Scam is that it doesn't pander to drama. Drama happens, yes, but it doesn't just show teens fucking up and never doing things the right way.
Take for example in Season 2, when Noora starts dating the guy her good friend Vilde has been crushing on for a while, William. Although she keeps it secret at first, she does reveal the situation herself to Vilde, and in a very caring way. What could have been a traumatic and friendship-ending situation instead turns into a model for good communication and valuable friendship skills learned.
They might be in high school, but that doesn't mean they don't have anything intelligent to say or teach us, which is a point Skam makes continuously: Teenagers should still be taken seriously, even if they have raging hormones and are in the process of going through intense first-time experiences, they're not just making bad, uninformed decision after bad, uniformed decision. Got it?
10. It Can Be Pretty Hilarious
11. You Get Amazing Norwegian Fashion Inspiration
Give me all the sweaters, all the coats, all the scarves and all the bags pls.
12. The Tunes Are Banging
Thought Yelle was so 2011? Get ready to start Pop Up again — and love every damn minute of it. Plus you'll also be able to discover some insane Norwegian rap to groove to.
13. It's Coming To The US!
That's right, Simon Fuller apparently bought the rights to Skam and is currently in the process of adapting it for a US audience. They plan to cast unknown actors and use the same social media and release strategy, but it remains to be seen if they can resist exchanging drama for realism in this American remake. Let's hope it's able to stay true to Skam's core messages.
BONUS: This Is The Hottest Guy In School
Bless you, Norway.
Have you already seen Skam? Are you excited for the US remake, or nah?