Skam (Shame) : a Scandi TV sensation for the social media generation

The Norwegian teen drama is updated in real time on Instagram and has already gained a cult UK following

They sent chills down our spines with Nordic noir and sold us the ultimate comfort blanket in hygge – now Scandinavia is reinventing the teen drama thanks to Norway’s cult hit Skam (it’s Norwegian for shame). The series has gone from much-loved secret to the internet’s latest obsession in the course of three seasons.

Last week the show began in Sweden and Denmark and the buzz surrounding it has already spread to British shores, with obsessed fans logging on to the growing number of sites providing English subtitles for each episode.

So why is Skam such big news? This story of a group of teens hanging out in a reasonably well-to-do suburb of the Norwegian capital Oslo initially sounds like it might be a Scandi version of the British teen hit Skins. There are the wild parties, the drinking and smoking, the good-looking guys and girls falling in and out of love, but Skam is different for a number of reasons.

“Most drama series underestimate young people,” says Håkon Moslet, head, of youth TV at NRK, the television station behind the show. “There are a lot of heavy issues you go through from 15 to 19. At the same time magical things happen. Skam is all those dreadful and beautiful things wrapped into a universe that a lot of people can relate to and engage in. And it’s done in a way most people haven’t seen before.”

Thus alongside those parties the lead characters on Skam also spend a remarkable amount of time doing very ordinary things – queueing for lunch at school, staring at their phones waiting for messages, sitting around shooting the breeze about everything and nothing. They are played by and thus look like teenagers – the young cast are mainly aged between 17 and 19. Most importantly the show’s use of social media is highly innovative.