“Shame”, a Norwegian series about teens, has taken the world by surprise. Now, fans are making their own subtitles and travelling to Norway.
After nearly three seasons of following the ups and downs of a group of normal teens, the Norwegian tv series “SKAM” (“Shame”) from the national broadcaster NRK has found its audience and then some.
The series is based on interviews and research on high school age students, making it both believable and engaging. Along with publishing each episode in pieces throughout the week, each of the characters have their own accounts on social media like Instagram where they post throughout the week.
Et bilde publisert av Noora Sætre (@loglady99)
For younger viewers, it’s a show that closely mirrors their own lives. For grownups, it’s a rare representation of how they remember their own youth.
In a year, the show went from niche to universal phenomenon at home, and in its third season international viewers have also joined the “Shame” train.
Officially, the show is only available in Norway and Denmark, but according to Dagbladet and NRK, a petition and other requests for English subtitles have come from Argentina, the US, New Zealand, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland, Lithuania, Australia, Hungary, Mexico, Russia, France, Germany, Italy and China.
According to NRK, expensive music licensing outside of Norway means that they have so far been unable to export the show, with Danish broadcaster DR3 being the exception. And the Danes love “Shame”. Right now, 28 percent of the series’ viewership hail from Denmark, which according to NRK has led to the Danes now creating their own “Shame” parodies and learning Norwegian slang like “hooking” (making out) and “serr” (seriously).
Et bilde publisert av @isakyaki
Some go even further, and decide to visit.
Like Danish Sarah Elisabeth Nedergaard, recently writing for VICE about travelling to Oslo with three of her friends for the sole purpose of taking a selfie in the school yard of the high school where much of the series is shot.
“It is recess, and a bunch of fifteen-year-olds eye us four grown women with suspicion as we giggle awkwardly over in the corner,’ she writes about their arrival at the school.
Soon, the bell rings and they’re alone. She’s torn. It’s so cool and so dumb at once. Then, she decides to sit on the bench in the school yard, the one where someone’s written “shame” with a magic marker.
“I pull myself together, fix my lipstick and snap the photo”, she writes.
“Sara, you stupid, nearly thirty-year-old loser.”
Even though only Danes are allowed to officially partake in the “Shame”-fest, international fans have created their own subtitles so that they too can follow the lives of Isak, Noora, William, Vilde, Sana and the other characters Norwegians are on a first hand basis with these days.
Especially the last season, where Isak struggles with his homosexuality, has been well received by LGBTQ viewers who have been yearning for more realistic depictions of their lives onscreen.
“Glee” star Kevin McHale counts himself among the series’ fans, and The Guardian recently published a long article on the show, comparing it to that other Scandinavian television phenomenon, nordic noir.
“Most drama series underestimate young people”, says Håkon Moslet, head of youth TV at NRK, in the article.
“There are a lot of heavy issues you go through from 15 to 19. At the same time magical things happen. Skam is all those dreadful and beautiful things wrapped into a universe that a lot of people can relate to and engage in. And it’s done in a way most people haven’t seen before.”
Maybe Isak will also lure in “Shame”-travellers from other nations. Zain Hussain from Britain writes on Twitter that he wants to move to Norway just so he can run into Isak and his boyfriend Even.
For those tempted to travel to Oslo for some “Shame” spotting, a good pick would be to take the tram to the Biermanns gate stop and then walk over to Beierbrua, the place where Noora and William share their first kiss. (The café Hønse-Lovisa right down the hill also have good waffles.) Or if you prefer a park, visit St. Hanshaugen, the place where they argue.
Walk around Oslo, and you’ll find plenty of other locations. But maybe steer clear of the high school – you wouldn’t want the next generation to be distracted from their schoolwork by endless selfie requests.
Between the Oslofjord and the forests lies Norway’s capital and largest city, with its vibrant social scene and special combination of nature experiences and city life.
Plenty of snow for Jon Snow.