6 reasons why you should be watching Skam

Evidently, I can’t go for *one second* without talking about whatever TV show it is I’m currently obsessed with. These days, I’ve been eating, sleeping and breathing Skam (which means ‘shame’ in English), a lil gem of a Norwegian series that somehow perfectly captures what teenagers are going through, without ever feeling over the top (see: Skins) or preachy. Season 3 ended a month ago and I’m STILL not over it.

Set in Oslo, the first season introduces five girls who are trying to fit into high school. But Skam really goes beyond that — sexual assault, religion, feminism and eating disorders are just some of the issues that are tackled and they’re always handled carefully and tastefully. They’re weaved into the storylines naturally so even though some of the topics can be a little heavy, they’re important conversations that add value to the series without weighing it down.

1. Short and easy-to-watch episodes

There are 3 seasons in total with about 10 episodes each, and each season focuses on a different main character’s point of view. The episodes are different in length but on average, they’re about 20 to 30 minutes each so they’re really easy to binge watch. I watched Season 3 in a night and I also introduced the series to a friend who watched all 3 seasons in less than two days. Trust me, it’s very possible.

2. Clever marketing

The show is probably most famous for the way it’s marketed. Clips are released online over the course of the week, as if airing in real-time. For example, if the characters are in school on a Tuesday afternoon, that particular scene will go up during school time, and if there’s a party on a Friday night, then a party scene will probably pop up on a Friday night. You’ll never know when these clips will drop, so fans are always kept on their toes, constantly speculating what will happen next and when. At the end of the week, these clips are packaged together into a full episode. On top of that, not only do the main characters all have social media accounts, screenshots of text conversations are also released on the main website. These usually serve to fill in the gaps in storylines (scenes that don’t necessarily end up in the actual episode) or contain hints as to when the next clip will drop.

3. Representation

Skam is such an important show because of the kind of topics that are raised and the characters that they have. In Season 1, Eva loses all her friends when she begins a relationship with Jonas but as the season progresses, she realises she doesn’t like who she becomes when she’s with him — someone who’s insecure and whose opinions are reliant on a boyfriend’s.

Your opinion meant more than my own. That’s not how it should be. I have to find out what my own opinion is and I have to do it on my own. – Eva Mohn, Season 1

In the series, they also have a kickass Muslim female character named Sana, who gets some of the show’s best lines. At this point though, she’s mostly there to dish out sage advice whenever one of the mains is going through crap. There are so many awesome Sana moments but one of my favourite conversations happened in Season 2 between Noora and her.

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I love that they brought up the question of what it means to be “strong and independent”. At what point do you let go of your opinion without feeling like you’re displaying some sort of weakness? If you change your opinion, does that mean your opinion was never important? No. I mean clearly, as the above scene shows, there *is* a way to still have an opinion yet be challenged on it. Talk it out. Engage intellectually.

4. Amazing soundtrack

I don’t know how they manage to do it time and time again, but it feels as though every single piece of music played in the show was specially handpicked to accompany each scene. The songs are a mix of modern and old school, each specifically chosen to bring out the exact emotions of the scene. Now whenever Radiohead’s ‘Talk Show Host’ comes up on shuffle, it immediately brings up images of Isak’s starry-eyed gaze as Even does his cool guy slow-mo saunter across the quad. Same, Isak, same.

(Here’s a link to the Season 3 playlist on Spotify, which helps me hold on to the magic a little bit without having to rewatch the whole season for the fourth time. The playlists for the other two seasons can easily be searched on there too.)

5. Squad goals

Nothing gets me in the heart quite like a strong core friendship in a drama or TV series. I especially love that we saw the formation of the girl squad in the beginning of the first season, saw them go from grudgingly coming together for Russebuss-planning meetings, to using those same meetings as an excuse to hang out together as a group. Although we got less of the girl squad in Season 3 since there was a shift in the point of view to one of the guys, an entirely new squad came into focus. Sure, we didn’t get to see the same kind of growth since the boys in the squad were all already kind of friends from the start, but it was still heartwarming to see the way they had Isak’s back no matter what he was going through.

6. *squawking sounds* EVAAAAK

Yeah, I hate to be that person, but also, Evak. It’s the ship name for Even and Isak’s characters, the latter of which, as mentioned, is the main for Season 3. The season explores his coming to terms with his sexuality and his growing attraction to the good-looking boy in the year above. But it’s so, so much more than that, I cannot even begin to explain. This is the season that catapulted the entire series to international fame, and I can see why. Season 3 is my fave, by far, but the first two are definitely worth watching too. In fact, please definitely do watch them as well!

For me, what sets the third season apart is really how well the characters are written and acted, and how detailed each and every scene is. There’s no room for filler here (which is more than I can say for Season 2, ahem). There are movie references, talk about parallel universes and also Easter eggs if you know where to look. The two leads have tons of chemistry, and their entire relationship is so central to their growth as individuals, their interactions so heartfelt and genuine that you can’t help but root for them both. If you’ve been hanging around online, you’ve probably also seen screenshots or GIFs of the characters, or come across long, emotional responses to the various plot developments of the season. Everything’s been analysed to death by Tumblr fanatics by now and I’m just here, eating it all up with a spoon because I can’t get enough of this damn show.

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NRK is still in the midst of working out the music licenses and getting them approved for an international audience so while that’s happening, clips and episodes on the main website won’t be available outside of Norway. But since it’s a Norwegian series, a lot of us have to rely on fanmade subtitles anyway and if you know where to look, it isn’t all that difficult to find subtitled episodes. Not that I’m endorsing any sort of shady activity but you know… the Internet is your friend. ;)

Yay! Unemployment!

Happy 2017! *dusts away cobwebs from the skeletal body of my dying blog*

I’ve been contemplating really seriously about shutting down this blog and closing this chapter of my life forever. And maybe perhaps starting anew somewhere else. I don’t know yet. I guess suddenly finding yourself jobless really changes you as a person. Goodbye my only source of income, hello waking up at 12 in the afternoon and eating breakfast at 3 while society judges you (don’t tell me what to do, mum!!). While it’s understandable circumstances that’s led me to this very point, it’s sort of lit a fire under my ass and made me want to do better. To own this. 7 years of Mass Comm’s got to count for something right?

And so, I’ve updated my resume, started bookmarking jobs like nobody’s business (I’ll get to them all by this week, I swear), thought up ideas for a creative print portfolio, and hopefully 2017 will be the year the gods finally take pity on me and.. No! You know what, I can’t keep thinking that way. I’ve got skills right? I can write. I’ve got ideas. I’ve got LOTS of potential just waiting to be tapped. Any employer would be so lucky to have me. That’s it, *positive thinking*. Something I have to admit I’m really thankful for though, is the knowledge that my previous contract wasn’t extended, not because of anything I had or hadn’t done. (You hear that, future employers??) It’s something that I could in no way have prevented. So there’s that, at least. It’s also comforting that my direct supervisor fought so hard to keep me, even if his efforts turned out to be all in vain. I mean, if the big boss suddenly changes his mind and decides he wants someone way more experienced, well what can you do right? All I can really do is pick myself back up, go back out on the hunt, and gain that ~~*~experience~*~~ everyone talks so much about.

Unemployment aside, what’s happened in the last couple of days: I turned 24 and I’ve been questioning myself, is this what I want my legacy to be as a blogger (I still feel uncomfortable calling myself a writer, it’s like saying that every person who can string sentences together is a writer, every person who paints is a painter, every person who can play a song on the guitar is a musician, you get the point… Actually does blogging once every 3 or 4 months even make me a blogger..idk)? Point is, I need to find my own voice!! And that’s why I’m considering starting a separate blog (see how we’re coming full circle here), title to-be-confirmed. I just want to start everything afresh and have a blog that I’m proud to show people, a space that I can confidently say, yes this is the Justine I want to put forth, this! is a true reflection of my thoughts! my identity! Not this chaotic mess of ramblings about life, reality TV or whatever cute famous boy I’m currently crushing on. Not that there’s anything wrong with what I’ve been writing about. They’re true to the me that was then, but the me that is now, is at a different place… from then. Yeah, I can be deep.

Hashtag deep, hashtag feelings

I hate to say it, but I’m not at a very good place right now. As I slowly make the scary but inevitable transition into adulthood, I have to find a way to merge the me I see as a student for the last twenty or so years of my life, with this new role as a full-time adult with a full-time job. I thought I’ve built up my self-esteem to a point where it was solid and unshakeable and I’ve convinced myself that I was done with being insecure about my capabilities as well as who I am as a person, but I’m learning to see that maybe that’s a feeling that you can never really get rid off completely.

While I like my job, being on contract puts me on shaky ground and I start questioning every single thing that I do. Am I doing enough? Am I making a difference? Could they do without me? My boss has brought up converting me to full-time and I’m always included in conversations concerning the future of the team but there’s always this nagging doubt that one wrong move could easily turn that around. I want to get comfortable but at the same time, I get so anxious and afraid. It’s…not the best feeling. It’s a little reminiscent of when I first started university and I was just plagued with so much self-doubt, being surrounded by peers who were so good at what they were doing that it made me feel like I didn’t belong.

Thankfully, I met up with a good friend on Friday and I’m just really, really grateful to have someone like her on my side. I laid out all my insecurities and self-doubt for her to see and it probably wasn’t a pretty sight. But she’s one of the realest I know and she talked me through a lot of it. I guess when it comes down to it, I’m a little hard on myself and I tend to overthink things. It’s an uphill battle trying to overcome this anxiety, but I’m a firm believer that everything gets better with time. Sometimes if I’m facing a particularly difficult situation, I’d give myself a little pep talk and say, “It feels like the hardest thing in the world right now but think about how in an hour’s time, a week’s time, a year’s time, you’d look back on this moment and think that it was nothing at all.”

All plans and no follow through

I’ve got a ton of posts in my drafts and I make plans to write about so many things, but then I procrastinate, and then time passes, rendering them all irrelevant in my mind. I’ve barely posted about all the places I visited while on exchange in 2014, when I travelled to Jeju, Geoje, Tongyeong and also Japan. So many beautiful places and experiences I never wrote about! Then I swore to myself I’d do better and update when I went to Korea again earlier this year. That so didn’t happen… I even brought my laptop there and everything!!

I think the problem with me is that I don’t know how to edit. When I get all absorbed writing a thing, I get so into it and I end up going on and on until it becomes this monster of a post. It’s too long to finish in one go so I vow to continue it another time, but that usually never happens so I end up with a bunch of 1000-word essays that never see the light of day.

So I realise it’s probably best to do my life updates in point form so here I go:

1) I finally have a full-time job!!! After I was done with FYP, I started freelance writing for Mediacorp whilst also doing part-time work at Jurong Regional Library as an Assistant Library Officer (lol that makes it sound so much cooler than what it actually is. Basically I (wo)man the customer service counter for a measly hourly wage). During this time, I was still looking for a job but I think I was being too picky / not trying hard enough because I wasn’t hearing back from anywhere. Anyway, point is, I heard about this position from a friend, applied, and 3 days later, I started work as a Marketing Executive for this company. I’m currently on a three-month contract so we’ll see how that goes. Fingers crossed, because I really enjoy what I’m doing so far!

2) I went to Korea again in August for like… 4 days. Short because I wasn’t working full-time then and had only about $1000 saved up for this trip. But the main aim was to go for 2 days of Elysium. It was something I’ve been thinking about ever since the concert was announced but when I couldn’t get tickets, I was like aww shucks, I guess it’s not meant to be. But then one week before the concert, Cindy was like Should we go? and I was still a little torn until finally, I was like, you know what, YOLO and so we got our tickets from some Starlights on Twitter, booked our flights and our accommodation and off we went.

Yes, I totally get that it’s kinda crazy to fly all the way to another country just for a concert but at the same time, I felt like I would have regretted it if I didn’t? If you thought the K-pop concert experience in Singapore’s good, wait till you see your faves on their home ground. They’re so relaxed and comfortable on stage, and the banter with the fans comes so naturally since it’s all in Korean. The sets also look so much more grand. It’s just a whole different experience! I really don’t regret it because at this stage in my life where I’m at, I don’t have to worry about bills and mortgage yet, so VIXX is something that I’m willing to indulge in on such a level. They bring me happiness and supporting them makes me feel good so that’s what I’ll do until there comes a time when my priorities shift and I have to reassess the way I spend my money. I’ve seen VIXX so many times this year and I still miss them. LOL *whines sadly about my first world problems*

3) I’ve started watching RuPaul’s Drag Race again since All Stars Season 2 has been airing and honestly, we need to have words, Show. Ru changed it up this season so that instead of the bottom 2 having to lipsync for their lives to stay, the Top 2 would lipsync to win $10,000 each week and then the winner would have the added responsibility of sending someone from the bottom home. I like that the queens (minus Phi Phi) this season are goodhearted people and genuinely nice to each other but come on, this isn’t RuPaul’s Best Friend Race!!! It’s honestly pissing me off how the good ones are being sent home week after week in favour of friendship (R.I.P my queens Tatianna and Alyssa). I swear to god, if Roxxy stays over Katya, I will burn with the rage of a thousand suns. #TeamKatya

Ok, I guess my point form is kind of a cheat since it’s basically 4 full paragraphs that I’ve ordered into a numbered list… Told you I suck at cutting down on words.

Until we feel alright

I’m really so blessed to have grown up on music like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco, bands who even after 10, 15 years in the industry are still making waves. To be able to see how much their sound has matured and changed over the years, and to see the way they’re influencing a whole new generation of teenagers with their music… is just indescribable. I mean, that was me, not too long ago (give or take 10 years, ahem), sitting at home and putting A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out on repeat, listening to demos on my crappy old Zen, and feeling like I’m part of my own little club. Listening to them again now definitely takes me back to that time.

Since their formation in 2004, Panic! has whittled down to two members and finally, now, just the one. Can I just say, I am living for Brendon’s energy onstage? Holy, backflip. It always makes me smile when performers look like they’re having the time of their lives on stage. Oh, just another day, getting paid to do what I love~