Amazingly all this that I watched was not officially published but local fans' artisanal publications on various platforms with homemade but spot-on idiomatic English subtitles (including all the text messages and explanations of wordplay, maybe the best subtitles ever). It was easy to get hooked and hunt for more and more wherever you could find them. There was nothing like it ever. It was so good and these kids and their talk were so fascinating it made you study the texts and want to learn Norwegian (which I loved the sound of, but found pretty baffling). All this came at kind of a serendipitous time right after I'd devoured all but the last not yet translated of Karl Ove Knausgård's addictive 6-vol. series of autobiographical novels, "My Struggle," so I was used to living vicariously in Norway.
Besides being innovatively naturalistic with its real-time scenes and online broadcast, heavy use of SMS etc., it also boldly covers a social range using appropriate actors, notably Tarjei Sandvik Moe as "Isak," who became a global gay heartthrob, yet was a an actual 15, 16, 17-year-old student at the Hartvig Nissens high school featured in the series. And what a compelling, watchable young actor he is! We live through his lies and dodges, double-takes and self-discoveries moment by moment.
Each of the 4 seasons is the love story of one couple, all connected with the others through the school. S1 is an ordinary (cute) couple, and the boy, Jonas (Marlon Langeland of the imposing eyebrows) spoils their love through excessive jealousy of the beautiful Eva (Lisa Teige). S2 is a screwed-up couple, a snobbish, particular girl and a rich, spoiled, damaged top dog. Noora's and William's story is painful and as true as Isak & Even's. When N & W finally connect, it's super-intense, but also fragile. S3 is Isak, the gay-questioning boy who has to come out to himself, while pursued by the older, more sure Even, who yet has psychological issues. Their first dates are romantic, a scene based on Baz Luhrman's Romeo & Juliet. Then, after the requisite heartbreak and Isak's difficult coming out to his (totally accepting) pals, who sort of knew it all along, as did Emma (Ruby Dagnall), the girl he was stringing along and using as a facade, "Evak" wind up moving in together and being the most loving and stable couple of all, a pearl of a romance cultivated in adversity. Also interesting, a microcosm of the school social groupings, is Isak's loyal little posse of Jonas, Magnus and Mahdi and himself, who talk of nothing but sex though only one, Jonas, of S1, may know anything about it so far. Magnus is the one who has to get laid, his naive eagerness a running joke, till he finds a gf, somebody we've been seeing all along.
S4, though it continues with all the former characters, focuses primarily on the most baddass and arguably the most complex and interesting character, the Muslim, hijab-wearing Sana (the excellent Iman Meskini), who as time goes on very much finds a boy she loves, Yousef, who's from a Muslim family, but sadly, her religious beliefs don't allow her to be with him when she discovers his attitude to God.
The joyous party at the end both celebrates the young actor's esprit-de- corps and underlines that "SKAM" is throughout very much an ensemble piece, with no minor characters, because they all count, Chris, Vilde, Isak's gay roommate and scold Eskild, the bus groups, the top dog boys, everybody. Mostly to these kids, adults don't count that much, and are seen only from the neck down,except for Sana's parents, who do count for her, and the hilarious, wise school "nurse", more an offbeat counselor, Dr. Skrulle (Astrid Elise Arefjord), whose little scenes of quirky advice-giving are priceless.
I confess to by now having watched some "SKAM" episodes three, four, or more times. Each time gets better and I marvel more at the wit, adorableness, and how, say, Isak and his posse play off each other when they're together. These kids are incredible. You may think of the UK series "Skins," which is remarkable in its own way, but it is totally different, bent on grimness, and dark humor and absurdity, and not as real and true, or as helpful. Because watching "SKAM" can be healing and enlightening, as well as touching and fun. And it's basically about togetherness and love.