skam: the norwegian rule-breaking show

For days and days, Twitter has been getting blown up from a hysteria over the Norwegian show, Skam ("Shame.") Endless profile pictures are changed to favorite characters, and Twitter feeds are craving for the show.

This may definitely not be the case for most of you, but it is for me, and this was more than enough to get my attention. It was at this point that I had the urge to figure out what the hype was for such an international show. I searched Twitter for hours to try to find a way to watch the show with English subtitles. Once I found links (that worked!) I watched the first episode, and that was when I knew I was instantly addicted.

The episodes are roughly 20-30 minutes, minus premieres and finales. It’s simply easy enough to crank out almost an entire season in one sitting. The seasons all center one specific character, as well. Season 3 focuses on a closeted boy named Isak, who goes through a process of self-discovery to become comfortable with being gay. This season is so crucial, not only for the problems it addresses and the representation that is included, but also because it emphasizes the gravity of mental illnesses in characters, as well as mental illnesses in bisexual characters. It tries to end stigmas and educate teenagers through the show, which is extremely important.

Season 4, which is airing now, approaches Sana, a character since season 1, who deals with Islamophobia and the struggle to create friends, while also closing herself off and still staying confident throughout it all. The show even uses social media, Instagram in particular, and gives the characters their own accounts to make seasons even more interactive.

But the whole TV show is in Norwegian, so how is that appealing to anyone who doesn’t, well, speak Norwegian? You see, even though there is a language barrier, subtitles are available, and yet even then, the emotion and messages that the show lays out for the audience are so comprehensible that they are evident no matter what language the viewer speaks. It is even inspiring people around the world to pick up the Norwegian language too.

The show also offers a broad selection of topics that real teenagers face with real solutions. It isn’t this cheesy love story that shows life being some perfection. It shows the raw and harsh reality of adolescent life, and how teenagers live and deal with these problems. Skam itself also tries to educate ignorance including LGBTQ+ awareness, feminism, mental illness, anti-Islamophobia, and more. This is all great, but there does need to be more diversity, for the majority of the characters are white.

No matter what, the show throws out a platform for regular teenage audiences, who can find ways to relate this to themselves in at least one way. It also completely helps that most of the cast is also filled with teenagers rather than 20-30 something-year-olds who barely look the part. It feels more down to Earth, and less like a typical Hollywood styled teen show, where everyone has to look perfect.

Overall, the show is something to check out, and whether you like it or not is completely up to you, but it is at least worth a try. Here is a link for the whole first season with English subtitles to get started! ✉

article by: kaitlin browne

visual by: skam



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