A Beginner’s Guide to Skam, Your New Teen-Drama Obsession

In recent weeks, a small but growing portion of the internet has become obsessed with a Norwegian teen drama called Skam. Perhaps you’ve heard nothing about it. Or perhaps, while wandering around online, you’ve seen GIFs or images of its characters, typically clad in an assortment of comfortable knits. Maybe you’ve even seen long, emotional responses to its various plot developments on Tumblr. Like all the best teen dramas, Skam inspires intense devotion — and the good news is that it deserves it. If you’re looking for some wintry comfort viewing, you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s start from the beginning. What is Skam?

Skam, which translates as “shame,” is a teen drama created by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). It first premiered in September 2015, and it follows a group of kids who all attend the same high school in Oslo. Think Gossip Girl, but with kinder people and warmer coats, or Skins with softer lighting and better interior design.

It’s a TV show, right?

Well, sort of.

So it’s a web series?

It’s a little of both. Skam is most famous for its unique distribution model. Clips from each episode appear online as if they are airing in real time. When the characters are at a party on Friday night, that scene will go up on a Friday night; if they’re chatting during the school day, that scene will pop up during a school day. Each of these segments also goes up without warning, leaving fans to speculate what will happen next and when exactly it will happen. At the end of the week, the four to six scenes are packaged into an episode that ranges anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. In addition, NRK also manages the social-media accounts of Skam‘s main characters, and posts additional tidbits to supplement the series’ main action, such as screenshots of text conversations between the main characters.

Tell me more about these teens.

In the vein of Skins, which took the perspective of a new character each episode, Skam focuses on a new character each season: first, Eva (Lisa Teige), a first-year student in a fraught relationship with her hipster boyfriend; then Noora (Josefine Frida Pettersen), a cool girl pursued by a rich asshole; and finally, Isak (Tarjei Sandvik), a second-year who’s questioning his sexuality. The other main characters, each of whom could become the focus on the forthcoming fourth season, include Vilde (Ulrikke Falch), a cloying but ultimately sweet control freak; her best friend Chris (Ina Svenningdal); and Sana (Iman Meskini), a hijab-wearing girl with a dry sense of humor who gets Skam’s best one-liners.