Julie Andem, the creator of the Norwegian web and television series Skam (Shame) intended to tell the stories about and to teenage girls only. It became a sensation across Scandinavia and Skam has now been remade in seven countries around the world, including an American remake that will be broadcast on Facebook’s new video streaming service.
This racy, emotionally intense, true-to-life Norwegian production, follows a group of Oslo teenagers as they navigate sex, school, drinking, depression, rape, religion and the pains of status anxiety in the real life and online.
Julie Andem believes the reason for the great success is due to the narrow target group and a tailor-made theme. “If you try to go wide and reach many, you reach nobody. If you are completely uncompromising on a target audience you can reach everyone,” she says.
In the summer of 2014, Norway’s license-fee funded public sector broadcaster NRK wanted to make something that would bring teenagers back to the channel. They wanted to do something dramatic to make NRK cool to teenagers again. That’s how Shame, a global phenomenon, was born.
Shame may be described as a mix between a traditional drama and a blog. It follows a cast of teenage characters, telling the story from their perspective. Thanks to a clever multi-platform and social media strategy, Shame has reached viewers of many ages. Each week, four to six short scenes were posted on the broadcaster’s website, without warning, at the same time the scenes are set and then bundled into a full episode each Friday.
The show followed the lives of students at the prestigious Hartvig Nissen school in Oslo for four seasons, with each season focusing on a different protagonist. In season one, Shame centered on 16-year-old Eva and her friends Chris, Sana, Vilde and Noora, all first-year students. The series follows the girls through their heartbreak, parties and all the challenges young people face as they begin high school.
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Shame found a global audience thanks to sheer dedication of its fans: Norwegian viewers created subtitled versions of new episodes in English or other languages, which were shared through a series of underground Google Drive networks. The new official English-language version will have new characters and actors but use the show’s format, and NRK will consult.
Creator Julie Andem had previously made shows for NRK, including Girls, which was aimed at girls aged seven to 12. It was such a big success that the broadcaster asked her if she could write a show for a slightly older audience, specifically 16-year-old girls.
Shame – the Successful Voice of Youth in Norway, written by Tor Kjolberg