Fans of Norway’s international hit series Skam (Shame) were facing withdrawal this weekend, when the last show of its last season was due to be released. The series has been a monster success, generating massive interest both in Norway and abroad, and setting off a wave of copy-cat versions around the world.
The series has sent the popularity of the names of its characters soaring, been held responsible for Swedes using more Norwegian in their daily conversation, exposed countless teenagers abroad to Norwegian youth culture and set off another boom in tourism to Oslo, all just in the two years since it was launched in 2015.
Production crews from all over the globe have been making pilgrimages to Oslo, to talk with Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) about making their own versions of Skam for their home markets. In the US, for example, the series will be called Shame, with newspaper Dagens Industri reporting that it will be created by Swedish producer Per Blankens in Hollywood. The US version will be set in either Chicago or Seattle and reportedly will remain faithful to the original Norwegian script and characters.
The series, which followed the often turbulent lives of a group of students at the real-life Hartvig Nissen high school in Oslo, has also won awards including the arguably most prestigious one within Norway, the Peer Gynt Prize. Its winner captures the most votes cast by Members of Parliament keen to hail a person or institution that has made a significant social contribution during the past year and made Norway better known in the world. Previous winners have included stars like actress Liv Ullmann, explorer Thor Heyerdahl, the rock group a-ha and world chess champion Magnus Carlsen. This year the award went to Skam and its director, Julie Andem.
Andem also won the City of Oslo’s Kunstnerpris, awarded to artists also deemed to have made a major contribution to the city’s cultural life. Andem and her series are perhaps best known, and will be remembered, for daring to confront topics like date rape, psychological problems among youth, religious identity, integration, homosexuality and gender issues among teenagers. The series has been lauded for increasing tolerance and putting difficult issues on the public agenda.
On Friday night, all the actors in Skam, who have been shielded from the press for the duration of the series, gathered for a formal party in Oslo and were finally meeting reporters and talking about the experience. The teenagers who played “Chris” and “Eskild” (Ina Svenningdal and Carl Martin Eggesbø respectively) told NRK they were glad their private lives weren’t invaded during the series. They both experienced being recognized on the streets, however, even during a class trip to Berlin, and described it as “absurd.”
Now they’re ready to move on. As Eggesbø (Eskild) put it, “It’s always good to go out on top.”