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Why Skam is the Best Teen Drama Series I’ve Ever Watched

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

One thing I remember vividly about meeting my current roommate, Jada, on our floor on West Campus in first year, is our mutual love for the UK teen drama series Skins. Filled with drugs, rebellion, sex, and trauma, we bonded over how this show molded our premature twelve-year-old brains in ways it probably shouldn’t have. Its alluring impracticality is what drew us both to the show in the first place; the reality of high school couldn’t have been further from Skins’ representation of teenage life. While the world of Bristol’s femme fatale Effy Stonem – whose hobbies are cited on the Skins wiki as doing drugs, having sex, and partying – was an entertaining fantasy, it was unrealistic at best and incredibly difficult to relate to.

A couple of years ago, Jada and I wanted to re-watch Skins, but this time together, as we were isolated in our enjoyment of the show when we had initially watched it all those years ago. But something about re-watching a show you’ve already seen just wasn’t scratching the right itch. As nostalgic as each episode was, it was funny to think of us in grade seven envisioning our sixteen-year-old selves living the lives of the Skins characters.

Then, one day, we stumbled across Skam.

Skam – “shame” in English – has often been referred to as the Norwegian version of Skins. Based in Oslo, Norway, the show consists of four seasons featuring a large group of high school friends struggling with topics such as sexual abuse, mental illness, sexuality, and religion. The show had a small budget and actors around the same age as the characters they played (including little to no set makeup), which made Skam feel real and relatable. Each season focuses on a different central character while still developing the other character’s lives in the background, making it easier for the audience to get to know the characters in a deeper, more intimate sense.

One of my favourite things about Skam is the fact that the show revolves around the characters preparing for the Norwegian tradition known as “Russefeiring,” a month-long celebration for students at the end of their senior year. As freshmen, the characters begin to prepare for the Russ festivities that will happen in their final year. In fact, forming a group for a “russ bus” is how the main female characters meet. They gain sponsorships and raising money for a bus, which is essentially a party bus to be used during Russ. Depending on how much money each group makes, they can deck out their bus as much as they want to turn it into the ultimate party vessel.

The first season of Skam focuses on Eva and her turbulent relationship with her boyfriend Jonas and their mutual friend Isak, while she navigates starting high school and trying to form friendships with female classmates. The main cast is introduced as Eva meets and forms a Russ group with Noora, Vilde, Chris, and Sana, who feel like outcasts amongst their popular peers.

Noora’s season is second; it deals with her coming to terms with having feelings for Vilde’s crush, William, whether or not she should come clean, and her eventual sexual assault.

Third is Isak, who spends the season struggling with his sexuality after meeting Even. After coming out, Isak is introduced to and must learn how to cope with Even’s bipolar disorder, including manic episodes and severe bouts of depression.

The fourth and final season is focused on Sana. As Muslim, Sana struggles with her religion around her friends as they talk about sex and drinking; she garners interest for Yousef, one of her brother’s friends, a forbidden romance since he is not Muslim; she forms a closer friendship with Isak as they bond over feeling different.

Though each season focuses on a specific central character, the rest of the cast and their personal struggles are still involved, albeit to a lesser extent. Themes such as cyberbullying, break-ups and cheating, girl-code, financial stress, and unhealthy home environments are all present throughout the series. Skam is realistic in the sense that it seems to represent real teens dealing with real problems in real ways, much as my friends and I have had to do. It is all about growing up and the good and bad that comes from it and, most importantly, the friendships formed along the way. Skam will always hold a special place in my heart.

Oh, and, if you don’t like subtitles, I suggest learning Norwegian. It’s worth it.

Aynsley Rae

Queen's U '22

Aynsley is a third year English major at Queen's University.
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