While many young Americans choose to binge-watch their favorite shows on traditional platforms like Netflix, HBO and Amazon Prime, international shows that are not on the generic platforms also deserve some attention. International TV shows are to Netflix what independent bookstores are to Barnes and Noble: less well known but loaded with hidden gems.
“Skam,” a Norwegian show whose title translates to “Shame” in English, is sure to be a refreshing change from the American TV shows that have aired in recent years.
The show premiered in 2015 on Norwegian state-run TV network, NRK. It aired with no prior fanfare or anticipation, but quickly gained a cult following among viewers of all ages. Although the dialogue is in Norwegian, Scandinavian viewers created a public Google Drive folder and added English subtitles, thus forming an international web of viewers who could enjoy and bond over the show.
“Skam” follows the lives of teenagers enrolled in Hartvig Nissen school in Oslo, Norway. Each of the four seasons follows a different character. Although the students’ lives seem characterized by constant partying and superficial worries, each season delves into what goes on beneath the surface of complex individuals.
“Skam” explores modern-day issues without seeming preacher-like or forced. Viewers watch characters struggle with religion in an increasingly secular and sometimes hostile society, mental illness, assault, relationships, sexuality, eating disorders and conflicting cultural norms. Rather than seeming as if “Skam” producers overloaded on hot-button topics relevant to the high school experience, each issue is touched upon with integrity in a realistic way that allows viewers to empathize with rather than judge or pity the characters.
The producers also chose to release “Skam” episodes in a decidedly untraditional way. They would release short clips on a nearly daily basis, then would roll those clips into an entire episode at the week’s end. This tactic created an intensity about the show, and has only drawn viewers in even further.
Due to its increasing popularity, “Skam” versions in other languages have also been created. Season one of “Skam Austin,” the English version set in Austin, Texas, just concluded its eight-episode season one. It received particular attention because the creator of “Skam Norway,” Julie Andem, was also on the team for “Skam Austin.” There is also “Skam Italia,” “Skam Germany” (called “Druck”) and “Skam France.” Each spinoff roughly follows the original Norwegian version, with cultural translations made for each new setting. Spanish and Dutch versions are also expected in the future.
Chris, Vilde, Eva, Noora and Sana. Photo courtesy of The Next Web.
“Skam” has revealed itself as a hidden gem and has united viewers worldwide regardless of cultural or geographic barriers. With new seasons of the spinoffs slated to come out soon, “Skam” will continue to capture its audience’s attention and heart.