For Shame: Norway’s new show is an internet smash

 Photo: NRK NRK’s new show is causing a stir with its portrayal of the lives of young Norwegians.

Photo: NRK
NRK’s new show is causing a stir with its portrayal of the lives of young Norwegians.

Linn Chloe Hagstrøm
The Norwegian American

The first season of the NRK series Skam (trans: shame) became one of the most critically acclaimed television series in Norway last year. The teen show has received praise from viewers and commentators of all ages.

Skam episodes are first published on Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation’s (NRK) web-streaming site, then shown as reruns on television. Despite being a primarily internet-based show and having little to no promotion, many of the episodes from the first season have had over 200,000 viewers and the majority watched these online. The second season, which premiered this year on March 4, has already surpassed the records from the previous season and amassed more viewers. According to Håkon Moslet, the managing editor for television in NRK P3, the series has set an internet-based television record for NRK. “It is the most popular internet-based series ever. Never before have so many seen an NRK show online,” Moslet told Dagbladet.

The main target audience of Skam has been and still remains 16-year-old girls, but the show is increasingly gaining traction among a wider spectrum of people without regard to age or gender. The show has certainly achieved popularity within its target group. However, adults also love this show because it is a timeless and strong production that delivers more than an insight into youth nowadays and shows that life plays out in the same way today as it did then. The show creates a gateway to discussion on difficult topics and issues that concern youth, such as sexuality, rape culture, peer pressure, alcohol, integration, friendship, and love affairs. For adults, these topics and important questions that are posed in each episode are easy to reminisce about and relate to while they re-experience the excitement of being in love for the first time.

Many have claimed that the show is an honest, relevant, and credible representation of the life and struggles of high schoolers, in particular Norwegian youth. It is a positive show that is well cast, in which the actors seem completely natural in front of the camera. The series teaches young people about both positive and negative life experiences such as consequences of serving minors alcohol, that naked photos of a 16-year-old is child pornography, the importance of knowing your own rights, and female empowerment.

As part of a carefully calculated media strategy from NRK, the Skam universe extends far beyond the episodes being shown on television. Throughout the week, short clips from the show are posted on the Skam P3 website and characters have their own profiles that they frequently update on social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook, according to Aftenposten. This builds a universe that is greater than a normal television show and gives young viewers something they can be a part of.

Skam won multiple awards at Gullruten (“Golden Screen”), which is an annual award ceremony for the Norwegian television industry. They were awarded best new program series, best television drama, and this year’s innovation (året’s nyskapning).

Further viewing:
The seasons and episodes are available both in Norway and the U.S. on NRK nett-tv, but note that there are no English subtitles:

Follow Skam every week for extra material on P3’s website:

This article originally appeared in the July 1, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.