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Photo: Skam Austin
SKAM Austin: Nordic angst conquers America (while saving Facebook)
The American version of Skam, the breakout Norwegian, low-budget web series about realistically flawed young people dealing with growing up, has made its debut. SKAM Austin has been comissioned for Facebook's Watch video platform, and is aimed at a global audience rather than Norway's more modestly numbered teenagers. Is it succeeding? We gathered up some reactions.

The Economist: Promising, but however…

The Economist muses that “Oslo’s quirky brickwork has become identikit Texas suburbs; and the pitching and falling Norwegian has been replaced by creeping vocal fry.” What the writer thought was striking about the original series was,

“[…]how much the viewer was expected to grow and learn with the characters. When the protagonist of the third series, Isak, admits he is gay, he adds that he’s not about to become “all gay pride” just because he likes boys. His flatmate replies with a defence of the gay-rights struggle and a warning about internalised homophobia that could easily seem contrived in another show. In “Skam” it triggers a collective awakening. Many viewers will never have to grapple with these issues, but were forced to do so through the show.[…]The relatable moments and quotes in “Skam” stimulated a generation dulled by broadcasters’ lazy commissions. “

Pointing out that Facebook hopes to reap the same viral success with its even more accessible reboot, the magasine thinks the first few episodes show promise, “but lack the Nordic version’s crackle of originality”, saying it would be a “real shame” if the same storylines are just repeated, rather than developing the themes. The Economist has turned its eye to NRK’s follow-up show about life after high school as a potentially more worthy successor.

Aftenposten: The art of recreating TV magic

However, as Asbjørn Slettemark, TV reviewer at Norwegian broadsheet Aftenposten, points out: SKAM Austin has something neither the numerous European Skam versions, nor the Norwegian follow-up series has: original Skam creator Julie Andem. Andem writes, directs and produces SKAM Austin.

“There are many ways to take a surprising small market success to the larger American context: Take the original idea and make a new story (BroenThe Bridge), copy the first few episodes with new actors and let it develop in new directions (The Office/The Office US), or you chip away at the edges until all originality is gone and no one is interested anymore (Life on MArs). You could also take the genius behind the origianl success, and put her behind the camera to create more TV magic with new actors”.

Based on the first episodes, Slettemark thinks Andem has done it again:

“After the immediate exhaltation that a quirky little NRK show has become an American drama, there is still reason to be blown away: SKAM Austin is beautifully composed and filmed, and has been elegantly remolded to fit American life (even if there are surprisingly  few hints at what will undoubtedly be the main themes: racism, homosexuality, mental health etc). It is immediately gripping.” 

NME:  Why SKAM Austin could be the biggest show of 2018

British music magazine NME summarizes why they think SKAM Austin will live up to its sky-high hopes and become the biggest TV smash of the year. First, the pioneering use of social media and its drip-feeding episode style. Also, it’s already got a backstory, with several of the show’s characters touting Instagram accounts that have been posting since April 2017:

“The show’s title is Norwegian for ‘shame’ – the original series explored bipolar disorder, cultural identity, coming out and shaming – and its confrontational spirit won’t change for the American version. Even better, the original show’s creator, Julie Andem, is also behind this version as writer, director and executive producer.”

Check out the trailer on Facebook Watch here.

1 The Economist
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“Skam Austin” aims to bring Nordic angst to suburban America

Can Facebook’s reboot of the cult Norwegian show recapture its magic?

2 Aftenposten
Asbjørn Slettemark
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Skam Austin: meget lovende start

Julie Andem elegantly updates Skam in American, and Skam Austin has become a strong spinoff from the Norwegian original.

3 Den of Geek
Kayti Burt
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Why We're So Excited About SKAM Austin

SKAM Austin premieres this week on Facebook Watch. The drama based on Norwegian hit Skam is that rare drama that is actually about teens.

4 Facebook
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SKAM Austin

SKAM Austin's Facebook Watch home.



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