Raise your hand if you’re surprised by this? No one? Yeah, that’s what I figured. Bringing a popular show over like Skam from another country isn’t something new and is done all the time. And it’s not just the U.S. that does it, plenty of other countries do it too we just tend to do it more and there’s usually a lot more involved financially and promotionally. You don’t however, see a lot of other countries remaking American shows but that’s probably because our shows are really expensive and there is also a really good chance that country is already airing the original show so what’s the point in remaking it? It just doesn’t make a lot of financial sense.
Because we have such a long history in remaking foreign televisions shows it means we have a long list of failures casting a dark shadow over every new remake. For every show that does well like The Office, there are five which bombed spectacularly like Skins and Life on Mars. The shows that started off as exact replicas with no sign of ever growing into something more organic crashed and burned rather quickly. However, the shows that incorporated the originals story premise with their own sense of originality were usually able to hold on longer. And those who were allowed to become something entirely separate from the original became hits both stateside and abroad.
In order for the U.S. version of Skam, now to be called Shame, to have any chance at success the creators will need to know right off the bat whether they want their show to be an outright remake or if they want it to be a reimagining. They sound similar, but they’re not. With a reimagining, the characters may share the same name and similar attributes as the original but that’s about it. While a remake tries to stay as close to the original as possible without ever developing a personality of its own.
If the show’s creators and the audience allow Shame to grow organically away Skam they could have a hit on their hands that has the balls to address topics other American shows try to wrap in a nice little bow. I know that I for one think we need to see young Muslim POC’s on our screens who aren’t playing terrorists. We need to see a lot of them. We need to see young people with diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and sexualities. We need to see people living with mental illness who aren’t used as a lesson for people without a mental illness. We need Vilde to be canonically lesbian.
And if bringing Skam to America helps do all that I say bring it on. I’m also hoping that they don’t cast all white actors with a couple of POC actors thrown in to make the show appear diverse. I want the show to actually be diverse. To Shame’s future casting director, it’s not hard. There’s no reason Isak can’t be Asian (Asia is also a big, huge area so when I say Asian I mean the whole dang continent) or that Eva can’t be played by a black actress. You say diversity and representation are important than fucking prove it.
Shame has an uphill battle on its hands. For one thing, the shooting schedule Julie and her gang use will never work here. Also, fans will have to realize that they may have had some semblance of sway with what happens to the characters on Skam they won’t have any with Shame. For another, while the Skam actors were kept out of the press as much as humanly possible it won’t be that way here. The agents, public relations people, and managers just wouldn’t have it.
Filming on the pilot starts later this year towards the end of summer so you can expect to start hearing casting news trickle out here soon. Of course, if they do decide to play this one close to the vest like Julie and NRK did I will be shocked. There is nothing our entertainment industry likes more than good press. According to the article on the Swedish media site Svenska Dagbladet, they are looking at cities like Chicago or Seattle which have a diverse population. Although I imagine the city of Atlanta is also being tossed around as a possibility seeing as how it also boasts a diverse population and the State of Georgia offers some really good tax breaks for production companies who film there. Given that Julie Andem is expected to contribute to the American version it wouldn’t surprised me if this played some part in the original ending.
Of course, all of this will be for nothing if the show is unable to find a home at either Netflix, Amazon, Free Form, FX, MTV or any of the other cable outlets. I highly doubt ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, or The CW would be interested in a show like Shame. Plus those channels have too many hoops you have to jump through to make it on air. Of course, the show will also have to make it past pilot season and be picked up to series. So there’s a very good chance the American version never makes it out of the starting gate.
But if you ask me their biggest challenge will be trying to recreate or capture the friendships shown in Skam because once you strip away all the relationships and drama what you have left is three groups of friends who are the heart and soul of this series. Without that, they will have nothing.