I recognize that I talk a lot about television on this mystery blog, but in my defense, TV is my greatest inspiration. And with Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu, I’m able to watch shows and films from other countries. Who knew I was such a sucker for British and Australian crime dramas?
The one television show I want to talk about it not available on Amazon or Netflix (although hopefully it will be soon). It’s not even available in English. It’s called Skam and it’s a Norwegian television series released entirely online. If you’re a YA author or a parent of teens, you want to watch this show.
Skam, which is now in its third season, is entirely focused on Norwegian teens who attend high school. Each season features a different character’s point of view. The third season is reaching out to a whole new group of fans because it features a storyline between two gay males. Identity and sexuality are presented with such honesty. There is no preaching. There is no adult, authoritative influence. It’s a just story about teens figuring out who they are and how they want navigate their world. They mess up. They face consequences. And they mature. It has one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard (there’s lot of 90s hip hop) and it’s easily one of the most incredibly honest portrayals of teenage life I’ve ever seen. It’s also a freaking.global.phenomenon.
Obviously, the characters speak Norwegian. When clips or texts are aired, there are dedicated fans on Tumblr who translate them into English. Fans are ravenous. Since the show is portrayed in real time, fans check the site religiously, waiting for updates. If the characters interact on Monday, December 5, 2016 at 3pm, then the clip goes up on Monday, December 5, 2016 at 3pm. The storyline is also supplemented through the characters’ social media accounts and text messages. Viewers get insight into how the characters cope, struggle, and socialize through these interactions. It extends the story without extending the 25-minute length episodes.
The show is resonating with teens everywhere. I see Tweets in Spanish, Russian, Italian from viewers. I see translations in multiple languages. Because the show is not made available with subtitles in all countries, viewers are subversive in getting these translations available, with some having their Tumblrs taken down. But such is the price one pays for this type of personal connection to story.
As I’ve been watching the series, I’ve been thinking about my own work and its relatability to its intended audience — teens. I can only hope I reach them in this kind of capacity. It’s powerful story telling and American television should take notice.
What foreign shows do you love? How do they inform your writing or reading?