Why SKAM Austin could be the biggest show of 2018

It's Skins for the Snapchat era

Last year, the Norwegian teen drama Skam became a word-of-mouth hit all over the world. Even though it was never officially broadcast for English-speaking audiences, its huge appeal had Norwegian speakers subtitling and uploading episodes to blogs and private Google Drive folders for English-speaking fans all over the globe to watch and enjoy. At the end of 2017 Tumblr Fandometrics named it the most talked-about show of the year, above TV titans such as The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.

It’s in Skam‘s venerable foosteps that SKAM Austin launches next Tuesday (April 24), and hopes are accordingly sky-high. Here’s why it could be the biggest TV smash of the year.

The pioneering premise is unchanged

One of the things that made the original Skam so perfect for its target audience was its use of social media and its drip-feeding episode style. Skam happens in real-time, which means that instead of sitting down to watch a 50-minute episode, you’ll see scenes dropping online as they ‘happen’ in the timeline of the series. According to the show’s official Facebook page, these scenes will drop daily on Facebook Watch, and if they’re anything like the Norwegian ones, their length will probably vary a lot.

Meanwhile, over on Instagram, a whole load of other stuff will be going on. If you follow all the show’s characters, you’ll see a huge amount of behind-the-scenes content that, like the show’s scenes, will drop in ‘real time’. But even as it uses Instagram as a platform, it’s likely to show viewers the discrepancy between the veneer they see on the social media platform and the personal tragedies they see within the show itself. As with the Norwegian version, the permanently ‘on’ nature of the show is likely to create a ravenous fanbase online, because its two-pronged approach is so immersive.

It’s already got a backstory

The show hasn’t even begun, but several of the show’s characters already have Instagram accounts that have apparently been posting since April 2017. By giving these accounts a follow, viewers can already get a strong grasp of the characters they’ll be watching when the show begins on Tuesday. You can see all the characters’ Instas here – here’s the show’s American football nut Jordan Díaz goofing around:

Show your support for my girl Jessica tonight at the game

A post shared by Jordan Díaz (@juicey_jo) on

The theme is still ‘shame’

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: “SKAM is about standing up to shame,” the press release reads. “It is about owning and being yourself, even when you aren’t mainstream and ‘accepted.'”

Even better, the original show’s creator, Julie Andem, is also behind this version as writer, director and executive producer. For the first one she spent six months travelling around Norway asking teens about their experiences, and used what she learned to turn Skam into a worldwide phenomenon.

Speaking about the new series she said: “It will be a challenge to try to make it in a different culture, in a different language, to a much larger and diverse audience, but I promise that I will put all of my effort and heart in to it… Let’s show teens everywhere that they are not alone.”