SKAM takes place in Oslo, Norway. The fourth and last season was aired in the spring of 2017.
A new short clip is released online every day in real time at NRK´s youth site p3.no – real time means that if the action in the clip takes place at a party Friday night at 11 p.m., the clip will be released to the public on Friday night at 11 p.m.
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Each season features a new pupil as the main character, and the series focuses on universal teen challenges like love, friendship, identity, peer pressure, sex, religion and status, but also on more difficult subjects, such as sexual abuse, homosexuality, eating disorders and mental illness.
Script written in Real time
The viewers are invited into a fictional world 24/7, where – in addition to the clips – they are updated by the character´s Instagram pictures and text conversations which are also released in real time. In this way the viewers can follow the story and the development outside of that which is actually shown onscreen. The clips are then released as a full episode that is aired every Friday on NRK TV (online) and NRK3 (TV).
The script is also more or less written in real time, only a few days before the next episode is recorded, and the scriptwriter uses the feedback comments from the fans online and from the actors when she writes. The result is a series that is perceived by both Norwegian and foreign teenagers to be very authentic.
Hit amongst teenagers
The first clip of season 1 was aired on Tuesday September 22nd 2015 at 2.32 p.m. in 2015. The series was produced to target 16-year-old girls, but was soon a hit among teenagers in general. It didn´t take long before the rest of the population discovered and fell for the universe, and the viewing figures increased significantly, before they completely hit the roof.
During the first week of season one, 24.000 unique viewers followed the series in NRKTV OnDemand. It peaked at 100.000 weekly viewers. Seson two peaked at 600.000 and by season three there were 900 000 unique viewers weekly. These numbers are unprecedented for NRK online, considering Norway has a population of a mere 5 million.
The series won five awards at Gullruten (the Norwegian Emmy Awards) in Bergen in 2016: for Best TV Drama, Best New Series and Best New Idea, as well as the awards for Best Editing in a TV Drama (Ida Vennerød Kolstø) og The Innovation of the Year (Julie Andem og Mari Magnus).
In season 1, Eva was the main character, in season 2, it was Noora, and in season 3, it was Isak.
The teaser for season 4 was released April 7th, and the first clip will be available Monday 10th. The teaser also announced that season 4 will be the last, and Sana is the main character.
Not long after the teaser was released, the show's creator Julie Andem posted a tribute the the fans on her Instagram profile. «The experience has been completely unreal, and a joy be a part of», she writes.
Season 1 (2015) Relationships
In season 1, Eva is the main character, and we follow her through her first semester of her first year at Hartvig Nissen high school. Eva is consumed by her relationship with Jonas, and we follow them through their ups and downs of young passion, suspicion, jealousy and infidelity.
Little by little, Eva gets to know the four very different girls Noora, Vilde, Sana and Chris, and they are soon to be a warm, tight – and somewhat fickle – group. Vilde is in love and hooks up with the most popular badboy in school, William, but he in turn is becoming more and more interested in Noora.
Season 1 is mainly about relationships – both in regards to love and between friends, and about the search for one´s own identity. We soon see what is to become a familiar feature of the series: the characters dare to confront difficult situations and see them through.
In addition to the usual kind of pressures young people are exposed to today, such as sex, alcohol, popularity and looks, Eva is repeatedly asked the difficult question:«Who are you really?» and we see her struggle to find her identity and to stand for who she is. We also see signs that Vilde is suffering from an eating disorder, which especially Noora notices, Noora´s own internal conflict between loyalty, independence and love, and the first signs that Isak may be concealing the fact that he is gay.
Season 2 (2016), obsessions
In season 2, Noora is the main character, and we follow her through the second semester of her first year. Noora is strong and independent, and she is very loyal to her friends, a trait that is challenged as she tries to resist one of the most popular boys in school, the same guy that her friend Vilde is obsessed with: third grader William. Noora has to give in to love in the end and she is torn between her feelings and her principles.
In desperation, Noora gets drunk and wakes up naked with William´s brother, Nicolai, and can´t remember what happened, so she doesn´t know whether she has slept with him or not. It turns out that Nicolai has taken a nude picture of her and blackmails her with it.
Noora´s confrontation of her abuser was widely praised in the media and social media. The police publicly supported the scene, and it was argued in the media that the scene should be part of the national curriculum in school. Noora´s strong feminist principles and core values are put to the test in meeting William, a boy she initially perceives as an arrogant and controlling playboy. Her friend Sana, in her levelheaded and incisive way, makes her see both William and herself in a new light.
The season also deals with obsession that is so often mistaken for love, illustrated by Vilde´s unhealthy obsession with William. Time and again we see how daring to face confrontations builds character and trust between people – and how it usually doesn´t end as disastrously as one fears, beautifully illustrated by Vilde´s surprising and benevolent reaction when Noora tells her about her relationship with William, of which Vilde already is aware.
Season 3 (2016), gay love
In season 3, Isak is the main character, and we follow him through the first semester of second grade. Isak falls in love with his fellow second grader Even, but Even has a girlfriend … However, it soon becomes evident that Even feels the same way about him, and Isak gradually comes out to his friends, who take the news with joy, warmth and ease. But Even has a secret, and eventually Isak learns that Even is bipolar – an alien world to Isak.
In season 3, the series mainly deals with gay love through the teenage boy Isak´s winding road towards accepting himself and his sexual orientation, and how he comes out to the world.
The series has been praised worldwide for exploring the issue in a realistic, understated and low-key manner, and for portraying love without focusing on the fact that it is between two boys, but rather the way it should be treated: love is love, regardless of gender.
The season also explores mental illness through Isak´s boyfriend being bipolar. On the road to understanding his boyfriend, Isak learns that his friend Magnus´ mother is bipolar, which goes to show another strong feature of the series: that when you are open about your troubles, you normally learn of other people´s struggles as well.
In March 2017, Isak and Even was voted to be TV Couple of the Year by the readers of the popular American entertainment site E! Online.
Season 4 (2017), cross-cultural Identity and inner struggle
In SKAM's last season, we follow Sana's search for a place in an environment where she feels estranged.
Sana juggles between friends, family and school, and we see how she tries to maintain her integrity as well as religious and moral principles. All while she is being confronted by the same challenges as many young women face on their way to an adult and independent life. Drawn between contrasts in our society, Sana has to ask herself whether caring for others is a sign of strength or a weakness.
This season showed us how people meet many of the same challenges in life, regardless of religion, gender and background. It connected people and illustrated how "people need people" – a popular quote from this show.
The teaser for season 4 was released April 7th, and the first clip was published online Monday April 10th. The teaser announced that season 4 would be the last, and Sana was revealed to be the main character.
Not long after the teaser was released, the show's creator Julie Andem posted a tribute the the fans on her Instagram profile. «The experience has been completely unreal, and a joy be a part of» she writes.