During the final day of their tour of Scandinavia, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Hartvig Nissen School in Oslo, the main setting for the popular Norwegian TV series SKAM. They were greeted by six members of SKAM’s cast, before talking to them about the impact of the show and the effect that it has had on bringing important issues out into the open.
Throughout its four seasons, SKAM has delved into a number of important issues that young people face such as bullying, mental health, religion, sexual identity and sexual assault. The Duke and Duchess are strong advocates for mental heath themselves, working to eliminate stigma around mental health through their ‘Heads Together’ campaign.
Speaking with Interview Magazine back in October, Tarjei Sandvik Moe — who portrayed Season 3’s protagonist Isak Valtersen — admitted that he didn’t think that SKAM would even work for three seasons, and that he wasn’t sure if he would be able to handle the responsibility that came with his character being the protagonist for the show’s third season. However, Season 3 proved to monumental, bringing SKAM out onto the worldwide stage and shedding light on important topics such as sexual identity, religion, coming out and mental health, in particular questioning the negative stereotype that mentally ill people are “crazy”.
“I think the awareness that is raised when we talk about it [mental health] shows how important it is and how many people it concerns.” — Ulrikke Falch speaking with NRK
SKAM’s actors take great pride in the fact that they were able to be part of a show that has made a difference and has had such a positive impact on people, both within Norway and across the globe. They were touched that William and Kate wanted to speak to them about what the show has done for people, looking past the fact that SKAM is a popular series and recognising that it is also something that offers a positive platform to so many misrepresented people, giving them the message that there are people who care about them and people who are there for them, even though it might not always feel like it.
The Duke and Duchess spoke with the cast about helping young people to talk about mental illness, and Prince William raised the question of whether a lot of young people are afraid of the issues that SKAM has brought to life. Tarjei replied by saying that “The issues are hard for people to take. We live in a society where people expect you to deal with problems on your own”, something that both SKAM and the royal couple hope will change.
“I was moved that the reason that they came to talk about SKAM was not because it’s a show that’s popular, but because they’ve seen that we’ve made television that hits home and that we’ve brought up themes that are important.” — Tarjei Sandvik Moe speaking with NRK
SKAM has been able to show the impact that TV really can have on people and society, offering education, understanding and help for people who perhaps can’t find it elsewhere. Having a popular series shedding light on topics that affect so many people globally spreads much-needed awareness, and having this recognised and advocated by important public figures such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge certainly shows steps towards what we can only hope will grow to become a more accepting and understanding society.