Simon Fuller’s production company XIX Entertainment bought the rights to Skam last month. He is best known for managing the pop group Spice Girls and being an executive producer of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.
The Future of Television
The insanely popular TV show Skam (Shame, in English) follows the lives of a group of teenagers in an Oslo school, one character at a time. Just like any other group of teenagers, they don’t have their lives figured out. They experience love, sex and binge drinking for the first time.
This sounds like the plot of any teen drama, however Skam is truly innovative. Skam takes place in real time and extends over several digital platforms.
When it’s raining in Oslo, it’s raining in Skam-Oslo too. If the characters are texting in class at 1:53pm on Tuesday, then you can watch the scene at 1:53pm on Tuesday. Or you can read their text messages online. When Norwegians are out celebrating Independence Day, so are the characters in Skam. You may even see a picture of them doing so on your Instagram feed.
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Each character has their own social media accounts. Additionally, on the Skam blog, Facebook messages, text messages, and the occasional Instagram photo are posted to accompany the mini clips of each episode in real time. At the end of the week, the full episode is released on NRK’s website.
A Relatable Show
Norwegians, who are used to watching American shows, finally have a show to watch that presents an honest representation of their daily lives. The way that social media is integrated into the show is innovative and very relatable to our technology-driven world.
Although Skam is a show about teenagers, NRK Analysis reported last year that only 25% of Skam viewers are in the intended target group of 15-19 year-olds.
The main characters of Skam all have their issues, which differ greatly from one another. The show has been praised in Norwegian media for bringing up important topics such as mental health, eating disorders and rape, and helping to demolish stereotypes related to race, religion and sexuality.
No Longer Available Outside of Norway
Skam was once available for streaming around the world for free. It gained popularity abroad, mostly in Denmark and the US. The New York Times, The Guardian and Vanity Fair have reported on the show.
NRK P3 announced a couple of weeks ago that Skam has been geoblocked due to disputes over international rights to the music used in the show. So, if you are one of the many Skam fans living outside of Norway, you’re just going to have to wait until the American version comes out to get your fix. If it can live up to the hype, that is.
But Will It Translate?
There is no doubt that Skam is culturally unique to Norway. People who have watched the show without knowledge of Norwegian cultural have certainly missed some things.
For example, “Russ” is a big focus in the first season. It is a Norwegian tradition where students about to graduate high school spend a whole month drinking, partying and wearing the same red pants everyday.
The characters in Skam drink regularly, both at home and at bars. This does not fit into American culture, where the legal drinking age is 21.
Some of the characters in Skam live in an apartment together in Oslo, despite still being in high school. This is almost unheard of in the States.
It will be interesting to see if these aspects get removed and how they’re replaced. However, the American version, Shame, will surely have the use of social media and similar important societal issues in focus.