At least once a week, for the last two months, I’ve been getting emails from Norwegian gossips about Skam. Skam is the teen TV series watched by 20% of the Norwegian population. That’s more than just teens. Norwegian teens are obsessed with Skam, obviously, but so are the adults.
Three weeks ago I heard from a reader called Sunniva (a name Duana definitely needs to start recommending more), who sent me a link to a piece written by Trey Taylor at Dazed who was also urged to start watching Skam. And he did. And he got it. He understood the hysteria. He kind of participated in it too, becoming a Skam crusader himself. It was while reading Trey Taylor’s article that I watched the trailer for Skam Season 3. Season 3 is about Isak who is figuring out what it means to be gay while managing his feelings for an older boy. My first thought, as their bodies got wetter and wetter, was, Am I going to get arrested? My next thought was, How would this ever go over in uptight-ass North America? Well, it was announced today
that Simon Fuller is working with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation to produce an English-language version of Skam, to be called Shame, for American and Canadian audiences.
Now go back and watch that trailer again and imagine it being viewed in North America. F-ck yes. I’m here for the outrage and the pearl-clutching. But I’m also here for how North American teenagers will react to Shame – if it’s true to the original – and how they might defend it for how it authentically it represents their experience. And the kinds of conversations that might result from it. Hopefully the kinds of conversations that effect change – changes in attitude, changes in perspective. Especially about sex.
Thinking about Skam today reminds me of a segment we did on The Social a few months ago led by our co-host Cynthia Loyst about sex education programs around the world. Cynthia shared that in Norway, where Skam originates, the teen birth rate is 8.9 babies for every 1,000 female teens – very low compared to other countries, and much lower than the United States and Canada. She and other sex educators believe that one of the reasons for this is the school-based sex education program. The comprehensive, mandatory curriculum addresses the physical mechanics of sex but also the complicated feelings that accompany sex, aiming to help students develop healthy relationships, with their own bodies first and then with others. Sex education begins as early as kindergarten. And children are exposed to sex education on government-funded Nordic public television through instructional videos aimed at kids 8-12 about puberty, kissing, hickies, intercourse, and masturbation too, featuring anatomically correct instructional props and models.
The Norwegian audience that welcomed Skam, then, was probably a lot more receptive to the ideas and the messages that the show is presenting. I can’t wait to see how Skam, or Shame, is welcomed, or not welcomed, in North America.
Have a great weekend!
Yours in gossip,