And so recently, I’ve gotten myself into Norwegian teenage hell (heaven?) – Skam.
I was scrolling through my Twitter and once again, I discover something that’s invest-my-whole-fucking-life material. So before anything else, I just want to say: “Fucking hell, Skam is so beautiful.”
For those of you who don’t know, Skam is a Norwegian coming-of-age TV show that is centered on different main characters for each season. (If you’re wondering: yes, the seasons are connected with each other. Same characters, same universe, different main.) The first season follows Eva, the second Noora, and the third Isak (who were both introduced Eva’s close friends.) I think this concept is actually pretty clever. It emphasizes the fact we all feel like the main characters in our lives (obviously) and feel like everything is thrown to us whenever we experience problems. What we’re sometimes unaware of is that we only play as side characters in other people’s lives, moreover someone close to us. What do they feel about us? What role do we play in their lives? Another interesting thing is that we get to see how the show’s actual recurring characters are like to the different mains. Their official website releases clips of episodes released in real time. (A timestamp is shown in an episode to indicate this. Example is when a timestamp shows that it’s Sunday, 1:00 PM, both the setting of the show and the release of the clip are the same. Why? To make it seem like the characters are real people, I guess. They even have their character Instagram accounts, for fuck’s sake.)
I checked the show out in hopes of it being good, but deep down knowing it might probably be another bad cliché show about teenagers getting wasted, but deeper down hoping that it’ll actually be good. It gave me the impression that it was going to be a Skins ripoff (ironically, I haven’t even watched that show), with the blatant sexual themes and horny teenagers with devil-may-care attitudes leeching off of white privilege. Yet another show that shows lives we wished we had, I thought. Obviously, I thought wrong. Again.
The opening sequence to the first episode was straightforward, and in my opinion, letting the audience immediately cross out what I’ve mentioned above. It is not just ’that’ show, my dudes. As the show progresses, it just gets better and better. Sure it doesn’t involve major conflicts where you have to find out who the killer is or the main character finally accepting his fate as The Chosen One™, but it reels you in. The shots, the dialogue, and the story in general that may appeal bland if you don’t know anything about the show. Meaning, if you don’t know how they focus on the main characters’ thoughts and personality. If you don’t know why the shots last so long, with an awkward close-up of the character not saying a word. You won’t enjoy the show if you don’t try to understand why their youth always seemed so important to them, and why they always either seemed to doubt so much or act recklessly. Its charm is that it’s too simple, too close to reality – that it looks so tedious. So people look for substance. Why is this show so hyped up about? You have to - let’s say - empathize with it. It’s basically like living your life as a character in that show.
Another thing I loved about Skam is that in contrast to the whole upperclass, utopian-like lifestyle and carefree vibe the show promotes, it tackles on social issues such as racism, sexism, and various political issues. Not just that, but its subtopics. Never have I seen a show where they discuss islamophobia and internalized homophobia and misogyny. The thing is, they don’t just parade these issues around to gain the title of being “woke” , but rather actually educating people of their ignorance (which is rare in American and Philippine television, let me tell you.) Skam has captured both the gritty nature of reality - acknowledging the struggles teenagers go through and the problems people experience in the third world and the same time showing us how to accept this and live in the moment. It’s a show that has great character development and at the same time sheds some light to major issues we tend to neglect or be unaware of.
It’s too good to be fucking true. We do not deserve this gem. Where else can you find a good show like this? Damn you, Norwegians.