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. ;)

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So here’s the tea

Sometime late last year, I got completely hooked on RuPaul’s Drag Race, after watching a long clip of Adore Delano‘s best moments from Season 6. I watched the clip of Adore expecting nothing, but since then, I think I’ve watched it at least 3-4 times, I just adore Adore so much. She’s a queen. She’s hilarious, charming, so beautiful and confident, and always, always keeping it real. Love her. She actually did a show at Tab in February last year, and I’m kinda upset I never knew about it, or even if I did, I probably wouldn’t have been interested either.

“It is a competition but you don’t have to sabotage anybody on the way there.” – Adore Delano

Drag wasn’t something I knew much about but after this clip, it made me curious to find out more about this whole new world that I was so unfamiliar with. There are so many misconceptions about drag and drag queens, and coming from a third person’s point-of-view, I’m not exactly the best person to educate but I’m so fascinated about the art of it all – it’s not just about a bunch of guys putting on pretty glittery dresses and trying to pass off as girls, it’s about the performance of it, the character and the story behind their drag, the amount of effort and commitment that goes into it. Everyone has their own reasons for doing drag, and that’s the beauty of it, really.

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With that said, Season 8 just started and like with any reality competition, I already have my favourites. This is the first season I’m watching fully because I only watched behind-the-scenes and ‘best of’ clips of the previous two seasons on YouTube. Season 6 was awesome because you’ve got huge personalities and talents like Bianca Del Rio and Adore Delano, and I guess Season 7 was lacklustre in comparison because the queens weren’t as funny or memorable. I did love how cool and laidback Pearl was and Violet Chachki‘s looks were always spot on. Plus, those two were hands down some of the prettiest queens I’ve seen on the show.

“I have too much class to be trying to tell somebody that they don’t deserve to be in the Top 3. I’ll tell you why I deserve to be in the Top 3, I’m not gonna like, throw someone under the bus and try to tell you why you don’t deserve this.” – Pearl Liaison

We’re two episodes into the new season and already, I have had it with Acid Betty. She’s fierce and she consistently turns it out but I hate people who don’t show any respect for others because they think they’re more superior. I remember the first challenge in Episode 1 was to do a photoshoot with the past winners and she was all sarcastic about it during her personal interview, “Yes, RuPaul, very intimidating…sitting next to these wannabe-ass drag queens…” And when she was told that she was blocking Sharon Needles in the shot, she actually replied out loud, “Well. Then she should move.” …Rude.

These are past WINNERS you’re talking about, queens who’ve all proven themselves already and this is literally your first challenge since stepping onto the show. That’s just not the right attitude to have. It’s good to be confident about yourself, but there’s no reason to put others down in order to make yourself look better. So even though the judges constantly have praise for her drag, if you’re a shitty person inside, sooner or later that’s just gonna come back and bite you in the ass and you’ll have no one to blame for it but yourself. Truth.

On the other hand, Kim Chi is possibly the sweetest, cutest little anime thing to ever walk the earth, except maybe minus the little part because she is 6’3. But I just love her LOVE HER LOVE HER. During the same photoshoot in Episode 1, the photographer told her she was blocking one of the queens and she just went, “Oops! Sorry!” and scooted a little in the opposite direction. Adorable. And in Episode 2, she was struggling so much with the team dancing challenge because of her two left feet and felt soooo bad because she didn’t want to let her team down. She ended up in the bottom but still made it a point to comfort the other two girls who were likely gonna lipsync for their lives. Bless her soul. You just can’t help but root for her.

I love that a lot of the drag queens this season seem to be genuinely nice, good-hearted people, who don’t always have it out for the others. Others I like and would like to see more of in the coming episodes are Bob the Drag Queen, Thorgy Thor, Naomi Smalls and Cynthia Lee Fontaine. Argh, is it Tuesday yet?!

Acting 101 with your coach, Justine

When it comes to movies or TV shows, there’s always gonna be a deal-breaker. What I mean is if a show were to have it, whatever it may be, then it’s a no-go for you. It could be a number of things – bad writing, crude jokes, silly plot, lame body gags, terribly haphazard editing, and the list goes on… For me, the number one thing I absolutely cannot stand is bad acting. No matter how incredible a plot can be, stilted acting always, always ends up taking me out of the story entirely. I mean, if you sound like you’re reciting the lines from your script, how am I supposed to believe that you’re actually the character you’re supposed to be playing? One thing I like to do when I watch anything is I try to look out for the actors who don’t have dialogue, and see how they react to the situation. I think one of the true marks of being a good actor is when you’re in character even when you’re not the star of the scene.

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New Jesus vs. Old Jesus

For the past week, I’ve been watching The Fosters non-stop, and now that I’m in Season 3 (that brings my total episode count to a whopping FIFTY-FIVE), I’m pleased to announce that new Jesus is faring a loooot better than old Jesus. I thought it weird that they switched out Jake T. Austin for Noah Centineo midway through Season 3 at first – I mean, are we supposed to ignore the fact that Jesus grew like a whole foot and suddenly turned hot…?! But luckily, Jake was always the weak link for me amidst a cast of talented young actors. Turns out, being able to blend in in a Disney channel series (ahem, Wizards of Waverly Place) doesn’t necessarily equate to actually having acting skills. Good to know.

While Noah is decent, and also really, really cute to boot, what I guess I’m trying to say (albeit in a very long-winded, roundabout way) is that bad acting sticks out like a sore thumb to me. But that isn’t to say that I won’t give credit where credit is due.

There are good actors, and then there are good actors. Out of the young cast in The Fosters, I’m always, constantly blown away by David Lambert. I first saw him in The Lifeguard, with Kristen Bell, and was so distracted by how incredibly beautiful the guy is, that I didn’t really get a handle on his acting. But it did make me start watching The Fosters, and that’s when I really sat up and took notice of how good of an actor he is. I won’t be able to tell you exactly what it is that makes him better than others, but it’s the kind of acting where it actually makes me stop and think, “WOW, he’s so good.”

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David Lambert in The Lifeguard (THOSE LASHES THO)

It’s really all about the eyes. If you can bring across your emotions and make me feel things with just your eyes alone, without having to utter a single word, then I applaud you. Good job. You’re amazing for succeeding where so many others have failed.

Okay yeah obviously, the world is filled with great actors—just look at some of the best Hollywood A-listers. Matt Damon was amazing in The Martian and I also remember thinking Tom Hanks was so moving in Captain Phillips. But the few other instances (that I can remember) where I’ve actually consciously thought that an actor was really good at acting would be Dylan O’Brien in Teen Wolf, and again in Maze Runner, Ji Chang Wook in Healer, Im Siwan in Misaeng, Kim Soo Hyun in Producers and most recently, Jung Kyung Ho in One More Happy Ending… All actors who’ve successfully mastered the art of eye emoting. Which is a lot less common than you’d think, considering it is an actor’s, you know, job to emote. Huh.

Dear Diary

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She is me. I am her.

These days, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with work from every possible angle and all the more, it just makes me want to retreat to my room and veg out in front of my computer in a futile attempt to drown out all the responsibility coming at me from all sides. So no. I am not ok. I’m finally all caught up on E4’s My Mad Fat Diary and it’s completely brilliant but so painful to watch but I’m so invested in Rae’s character that I just. can’t. stop. I want her to be happy and I want her to be happy with Finn next to her, yeah?

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Um just look at them, he’s obviously in love with her?! Nothing can convince me otherwise, kthxbai. Just the looks, and the hugs, and their secret way of communicating. ARGH I am drowning in my OTP feels. My ship better sail next week. And speaking of Finn………… OMGTHISBOYICANTOKHOWDOYOUFACETEACHMELICKMEASKLDJASKLDH let me just sit here and weep because there is no way this guy is real.

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(GIF credits: x, x, x)

Guys, I think I love him. Nothing beats fictional boys… says the girl who will probably die alone in her apartment with her million and one cats. In somewhat related news, have some pictures from my Valentine’s Day two nights ago. Obviously, my date wasn’t a cute boy… But it sure beats spending it alone.

Hope everyone’s Valentine’s Day went great and that you spent it well with your loved ones! Other than that, I’m excited for new episodes for all my favourite shows next week, which unfortunately, coincides with all my assignment deadlines. Oh please, get me through next week in one piece. On a side note, I’m really looking forward to The Mortal Instruments and The Host movies. I’ve only read the first TMI book and I don’t really plan to touch The Host, but the movies do look promising! And both have British boy leads playing American. Hmm…

Fandom collision and a reclusive weekend

Before I dig into dinner, and then dive headfirst into the freelance SNSD article I’ve been working on, just a quick update on some of the goings-on in my…cyber life.

Idol Sports Championship is literally happening right this moment as I type, and I’m dying in anticipation just reading bits and pieces of fan accounts from Twitter – Luhan, Daehyun and Youngjae sharing snacks?! Luhan waving at Myungsoo??? Let me just weep from the beauty of all these fandom collisions. It airs on February 11 but it’ll probably only be a couple more days later before the subbed version’s released, so basically it’s a lifetime away before I can indulge in idol interactions between my favourite groups. I’m giggling just thinking about Baekhyun speedwalking, as well as my China-line boys Luhan and Tao totally dominating the competition.

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And once again, B.A.P are showing off new hair colours in preparation for their Feb comeback – they’ve all gone dark-haired again (Himchan must be rejoicing), though Zelo‘s hair is a dark blue-purple. Poor boy’s gonna lose all his hair before he even hits 20 u___u Jongup looks like he’s lost a ton of weight though, I don’t know if it’s the haircut but he looks scarily gaunt in some of the preview pictures. And from what I’ve read, Himchan really is poised to be the next Woohyun with the amount of fanservice he gives out. Look at how adorable he looks with his new hair?!? Sorry for the upcoming fantaken picspam, but not sorry *__*

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As for my weekend, I spent a better part of it away from social interaction and I blazed through 22 episodes of New Girl so I’m finally all caught up, and just in time to watch my dearest OTP Nick and Jess finally kiss on tomorrow’s episode. Watching New Girl has really made me come to the almost depressing conclusion that I…am basically Nick Miller. He’s a cynical bum who’s a self-declared writer, broke like 90% of the time, has uncontrollable anger issues and is so self-deprecating it hurts.

   

   

   

(Gif credits: donniedarkos/belleprintemps)

See what I mean? He’s so frustratingly lazy sometimes, but I just want him to do well in life and get his girl in the end because how can you not root for him? When he finally finished his book ‘Z is for Zombie’ after a million and one bouts of procrastination, I just wanted to give him a great big hug and tell him good job, even though it was probably the crappiest piece of work ever written.

I also finally watched Silver Linings Playbook, the movie that won Jennifer Lawrence a Golden Globe recently. I don’t really have the time to go too in-depth into it, but I think I set my expectations way too high because it really fell short, and didn’t make me really feel anything like I thought it would. Still love Jen though.

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And lastly, I can’t believe I missed it when it aired, but this happened.

How absolutely perfect was his rendition? His English pronouciation has definitely improved by leaps and bounds, and I can’t wait for CNBLUE to get their flawless asses back here on April 13 as part of their World Tour. Finally. I’ve only waited for forever for this.

(Picture credits: as tagged to respective owners)