Globalization of story

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?

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Author: Kimberly G. Giarratano

I'm a YA author. And mom of 3. I'm also tired. Very, very tired.

9 thoughts on “Globalization of story”

  1. Very cool, Kimberly! Is Skam reality television or fiction? Miss Fisher’s Mysteries is one of my faves (anyone know when season 4 will be out?!). There are some things the show does especially well–Dot’s character arc, the slow-burning romance between Phryne and Jack, and the motivation/agency for Phryne to investigate each case–that I hope to better incorporate into my own writing.

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  2. Great post! I like the British mysteries. I have to watch Luther and Rebus with subtitles but I’ve gotten used to Midsomer Murders. It’s important, I think, to understand how stories are told on TV nowadays because the condensation of the story, the short scenes, and the subtext have created expectations in readers. The other day, I listened to Hercule Poirot’s Christmas read by Hugh Fraser. The story was much like the TV presentation except there were a couple more characters. It was good for me to see how the functions of minor characters can be rolled into another character since I tend to write too many characters, I am told.

    Not to worry, my next blog is about audiobooks.

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  3. Kate! I love Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries but I don’t think there will be a Season 4. I have heard some rumors regarding a movie, perhaps…

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  4. Kimberly, watching TV is research. That’s my story (passed on to me by a friend) and I’m sticking to it.

    Right now, my new thing is Leverage. I’m only up to episode five of the first season, but I’m hooked. It was recommended by one of my critique partners (the same one who said watching TV is research) for the plotting and character development. And of course I love most British TV mysteries.

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  5. What I love about you Kimberly is the fact that you throw the value of television right out there for everyone to consider. You are pro-TV where others (some very snobbishly) see it as mindless. I have to admit however, I much prefer the ability to stream at my convenience rather than find a spot on the sofa every Wednesday at eight o’clock.

    I’ve streamed quite a bit from BBC. Right now I’m in the second season of Doctor Who. Not my favorite, but it keeps me engaged. Torchwood was good as was Primeval. I watch them while I put on my makeup in the morning. Better than news. But I do have to say that my makeup application often gets forgotten while I watch something amazing happen on the screen. So love the fact I can pause and back the track up.

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  6. Like you, Kimberly, I wave my TV flag high. As writers we can learn so much from good (and bad) TV. Like it or not, our reading habits are dictated by TV and movies these days. Anyone tried lately to sit through reading pages and pages of description or exposition in an old book? It simply isn’t the way we consume media anymore.

    And speaking of consuming, don’t tell me Phryne won’t be back. *plugging my ears* lalalalalala….

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  7. Wonderful post and what a great premise for a series. It was only a matter of time until TV happened in real time. I like it.

    I don’t watch TV. My husband and I did away with cable about 10 years ago when we realized we never turned it on, and when we did, we turned it right off. So, Netflix is my thing. I’m thinking maybe I need prime too. I am a Brit junkie. Loving The Crown right now – binged of course, moved on to the Royals. What can I say. Give me Dalgliesh and I’m happy. Alas, there will be no more now. Inspector Lynley. You get my drift. When I lived in far northern Maine I was addicted to the French drama that came out of Canada. Served two purposes, refreshed my French and gave me insight into the way the French (and French Canadians, the shows were both) think. There is a different thought process that fluency in a language brings. It’s hard to explain. Remember the Steven Van Zandt show set in Norway (is Norway a theme here?) Part of what made that show so watchable were the differences in the thought processes.

    Keep on keeping us informed, Kimberly, you are my window on teens and on TV!

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