Shame has never felt so good

By Julie Herskin, Creative

Shame. That’s the name of the Norwegian TV show that some would argue almost feels too real. It’s taken Scandinavia by storm while the rest of the world are getting their ‘fix’ on YouTube with crowdsourced subtitles, because apparently it’s ‘too out there’ for European TV.

The show follows a group of teenagers studying in high school, each season focusing on a new character. It tells their story without any filter: they are lonely, come out, fall in and out of love, are embarrassingly drunk, meet (and sometimes judge) people from other cultures and religions, have body issues, acne problems and think they’re pregnant.

This sounds pretty standard, so why is the world (including us at PD3) obsessing over a group of teens? And what can we learn (read: steal) from this?

1. Know your target group

The creator Julie Andem travelled across the country to create 8 completely real authentic characters (don’t expect an overdramatised Lena Dunham), making sure everyone could at least relate to one person. She found it important that each character was strong enough to create a whole season about, making sure none of them are just background noise.

2. Listen and be flexible

Julie Andem reads everything people are saying about SKAM on social, and she adapts the story based on their thoughts. For example, many didn’t like a couple featured in the first season so she ended up breaking them up (sorry for the spoiler!).

3. Create depth to the story

Each of the characters have social profiles, which makes them almost too real. For example, in one scene we see a couple waking up in bed, but we have no idea how they got there unless we check the boy’s Instagram, where he’s snapped a picture on the way there. This creates depth and mirrors reality, making the characters step out of the screen.

4. Make it feel real time

There’s one episode released every Friday, but throughout the week clips from the episode are posted online whenever that moment would actually be happening. For example, is it 4 pm on Monday in the show, then the clip will be posted 4 pm on Monday. This means the story is told in real time, adding to the number of reasons why the show feels so authentic.

5. Talk to them on their level

Maybe the most important element to all of this is that the target group, teens, are never ever spoken down to. Whatever they experience, whether it’s being extremely hungover or being stood up by their boyfriend, they get through it with their head held high. It’s super empowering and we wish we had this show to guide our insecure teenage-selves. But hey, we made it out on the other side pretty ok… we think.

Here’s a taster for season 3, that follows Isak (warning: don’t watch this at your desk): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzd_Z1LPHsE&t=16s