Marina goes all in on Norway's hit show SKAM.
American teen coming of age stories have hit a brick wall. Watching Riverdale is more of a so-bad-it’s-fucking-hilarious experience rather than one where you actually feel like these people are real humans and not 27 year old beefcakes pretending to be children. If I see another show about hot rich teens solving a goddamn mystery I’m going to suffocate myself by pulling a beanie over my face that says “Homies”.
So that's why the Norwegian show SKAM has become such a mega hit. The teens are actually teens and some of them actually go to the high school where it’s shot. The show has Instagram accounts for its fictional characters and the ‘episodes’ are released in snippets throughout the day, more like a series of YouTube videos than a structural episode. The show knows what 14 year olds are looking for in their media: realistic characters, cool music & style, streaming content, and a way to ‘interact’ with their favorite characters on social media.
The main character for Season 4 has just been announced: Sana Bakkoush. Here’s what you need to know about her:
Sana doesn’t give a fuck:
This girl has shade for days and will sass you if you fuck with her. She knows Norwegians see her as some sort of repressed Syrian migrant which couldn’t be further from the truth because she’s the most badass Norwegian there is. She’s this dope nouveau-goth girl who calls people on their shit which means she doesn't have too many friends but the friends she has are forever.
Sana is strong:
Sana isn’t interested in romantic relationships unless they are serious. She doesn’t just follow her peers mindlessly if they’re doing whack bullshit. She sticks up for her beliefs and opinions even if that means ostracizing herself. She knows that her white friends will never really understand why she wears a hijab but she never wavers in her faith commitment.
Sana understands the world:
“Girls exchange sex for money, popularity, and acknowledgement every day. This isn't news to you. It's your culture.”
“I’m a muslim girl in a faithless country. I’m the biggest loser of them all”
“Hate doesn’t come from religion, it comes from fear”
“War doesn’t start with violence, it starts with misunderstandings and prejudice.”
You think you’re gonna get those gems of wisdom from some shit on The CW?
I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see a teenage girl on TV who isn’t fucking, isn’t drinking, and fully knows herself and her goals. Because for the longest time these girls have only had buzzkills and prudes as pop culture depictions and they are neither. They are fully realized women who are wading through a sea of teen lust and anguish and they’re so over that shit already. And there are more of these girls out there in the world than there are Serena van der Woodsens from the upper east side.
And let’s be real; the media representation of Muslim girls right now is pretty damn awful. Setting aside the appalling news media depictions, Muslim women on TV shows never the main character. So not only having Sana as the protagonist this season but to have hordes of teens worldwide begging for her to be the main is a big deal.
This year is the year a goth Muslim Norwegian drops knowledge on the world and calls us on our shit. And I can’t wait.
Marina is a human female who lives in Vancouver but will always tell you about that one time she lived in Scotland. Her teenage diary had more references to The Simpsons than boys she liked and thinks people who pride themselves on not owning a television are heathens. You can find more of her media opinions on the Flight School podcast.