Sometimes love just hits you when you are not even looking for it, just appearing out of nowhere and sweeping you off of your feet. After just a few hours you are taken aback by all of these new feelings, an urge to go further and the desire to keep it in your life forever.
No, I have not fallen in love with somebody in France (good news for my boyfriend). In reality, I have fallen in love with a new television show, which you cannot watch on network TV in the United States. It is called “Skam,” and it is a Norwegian show about high schoolers figuring out who they are and dealing with their various high school problems. While this might sound a little cliché and not too extraordinary in comparison to the equivalent shows that are released practically every year in the United States, this show truthfully transcends the genre established in the United States and stands on its own as an amazing show.
First of all, it is Norwegian and rightfully so, it is all in Norwegian. At first it is a little difficult to watch reading only English subtitles while listening to a rather funny sounding language that you do not know, but in reality this forces you to pay attention to the minute details of what each person is saying and watching the expressions on their faces for contextual clues. This, mixed with various Nordic cultural concepts such as getting a bus for russ (a celebration at the end of high school), truly takes you out of the American perception of high school while still dealing with universal issues such as love, drinking, religion, democracy and sexuality.
Second, this show gives a real portrayal with plot twists that are so clever and real that you do not see them coming. These characters, all played by actors and actresses who are actually in high school (unlike in the United States where you have high schoolers being played by 25-year-olds with six-pack abs and full-on beards), approach concepts and problems in ways that students actually approach issues. Each season is dedicated to following the storyline of a specific character so you get to look deep down into one person, but you also have everyone else’s storylines weaving through. In American shows you often see large confrontations or major scandals, but in this show they are reduced to the level of importance they actually are, helping you understand exactly why each character acts the way they do. This is especially important in season three when Isak Valtersen is dealing with his sexuality and coming out. Never have I ever seen such an accurate representation of how I dealt with my sexuality in high school and the beginning of college than through Isak’s story and experiences.
From the moment when he makes out with a girl to show his friends up to the moment when he Googles a gay test to see if he is gay, to the moment he finally kissed the guy he had fallen for, to the moment when he comes out to his roommate and parents. Moment after moment is a refreshing view on what it is like to actually discover your sexuality and to fall in love with somebody from the same sex for the first time. Isak is not your token gay character, but rather a character who evolves like every other human being and is treated as such, creating an amazingly real aspect from the small moments leading up to his season in the previous ones.
“Skam” is quite honestly a truly amazing television show and perfect for anybody who knows Norwegian or is fine watching shows with subtitles. It is truly inspiring, to the point where I am now learning Norwegian on an iPhone app just so that way I can try to understand a few of the words in the episodes. If you are ever in one of the Nordic countries or if the show ever becomes available in the United States, I would highly recommend watching this television show that I have fallen in love with at the end of my time here in Paris, the city of love.