Simon Fuller to produce a US version of Norway’s Shame
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Soon to begin its fourth season on Norwegian pubcaster NRK, and with 1.2 million weekly followers, the teen-orientated series has reached world fame
British artist manager and television producer Simon Fuller, who created the American Idol TV series (2002-2016) and was the manager of the Spice Girls, has purchased the English-language rights to the universe of Norwegian pubcaster NRK’s TV series Shame, which his XIX Entertainment company will release in the US and Canadian markets.
Shame has become a sensation in Scandinavian television since its 2015 debut; this year in Norway, its home market, it grew from 24,000 to 1.2 million weekly visitors to its website, and more than one million viewers for its weekly episodes (in a country with a population of five million). Also available in Sweden and Denmark, the show has become a success among young viewers.
Created by Norwegian writer-director and actress Julie Andem, Shame follows a group of Oslo teenagers studying at the Hartvig Nissen High School, each season starring a new lead character – in the first season (comprising 30 episodes), Eva is beginning her first classes, in series number two Noora is also new at school, and in the current series, which ends this month, Isak is coming to terms with being gay.
NRK has already announced that it will produce a fourth season of the programme, aimed at 15+ audiences. There are four to six scenes of the show aired weekly on the NRK website, unannounced, which are then included in a full episode on Fridays. The characters have their own Instagram accounts, Facebook is used for special events, and promotion is concentrated on social media.
“The multiplatform distribution, which is quite unusual – also abroad – reflects young people’s technological habits: when they are not watching traditional TV, they expect to find drama on their mobile phones or PCs,” observed film and TV researcher Jo Sondre Moseng, of the Lillehammer University College. “It has made the 15+ target group accessible.”
Starring Lisa Teige (Eva), Josefine Frida Pettersen (Noora) and Tarjei Sandvik Moe (Isak) in the first three series, Shame follows the students and their mates during classes, with highly intimate portrayals and episodes touching on parties, changing relationships, the pressures of school, sex, rape, drinking, infidelity and religion.
“Teenagers today are under a lot of pressure from everyone – pressure to be perfect, pressure to perform. We wanted to make a show to take away the pressure,” the show’s creator told the New York Times. When I was 16, we’d use sex to get love – now they use sex so they can be more popular on Instagram. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing.”
When the Norwegian TV industry and commercial broadcaster TV2 announced this year’s Golden Screen TV prizes, Shame came in at number one, racking up five: Best TV Drama, Best New TV Series, Best Newcomer, Best Editing of a TV Drama and Innovation of the Year (for Andem and Mari Magnus, who updates the Shame profiles on the web on a daily basis).