It all started in 2015 when the first episode of "Skam" premiered in Norway. "Skam," which when translated into English means "shame," seems like your typical teen drama at first glance, focusing on how difficult it is to be a teen going through high school. Except this show was far from typical.
Yes, the show did focus on topics that are typically prevalent in teen dramas such as relationship issues, sex, and religion. However, instead of casting some squeaky clean, super sexy young adult pushing their late 20's to play the teenagers depicted in the show, they cast actual teenagers. This alone led the show to feel more real and believable to all the teenagers watching.
The realism was bolstered even more by the minimal makeup applied to the actors, the awkward dialogue, and the gravity with which certain topics were approached.
The most fascinating element of the show, however, was the use of social media in real time.
Nowadays, half if not more of a teenager's life is spent on social media, so it only makes sense that the best way to engage a teenage audience is through social media. "Skam" utilizes this aspect of storytelling by giving all the characters in the show real social media accounts you can follow that are updated in real time. This adds even more to the realism of the show, because being able to interact with the characters through their social media feels a lot like how we interact with our own friends through social media.
The original "Skam" ran for four seasons and focused on the storyline of a different character each season. After the success of the original "Skam," other countries saw the potential of such an innovative show. Thus the remakes in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the U.S. were made. While normally I am against constant remakes of the same material, I make an exception for "Skam."
Because the remakes of "Skam" are being created in so many different countries, each highlights the specific cultures of each country and what makes being a teenager in different countries unique.
I have learned more about different countries and their cultures by watching "Skam" and all its remakes than I ever did in any world history class I ever took.
Another bonus of watching "Skam" is that they cater to the busy schedules of their audience and release small clips of each episode throughout the week, culminating in a 20-30 minute episode by the end of the week.
I prefer this method of release, as it is much easier to consume throughout my busy week. I can sit down and watch a five-minute clip every day, but asking me to watch a 20-minute episode is pushing it when I barely have time to eat a whole meal. Being fed small portions throughout the week is much more manageable for my, and I'm sure everyone else's, schedule.
Even though "Skam" and its remakes are in a bunch of foreign languages, the message and themes they portray will stay universal to teenagers and young adults from every country. They leave all glamour at the door and present the ugly, real truth of what it is like to be a teenager.