Hi everybody, and welcome to a new Something Different Sunday, on which I talk about… well something different from books.
Today I want to
talk gush about a TV show I discovered last month called Young Royals. The first season of this show has been out since July 2021, but I had not yet heard of it before. That is, until I recently fell in love with another teen TV show called Heartstopper and noticed a lot of fans comparing the two shows on social media. Naturally, I decided to give it a try and I was sold before the end of the first episode. (Quick side note for Heartstopper fans: the two shows indeed share a lot of similarities: they’re both queer teen tv shows that show a beautiful and realistic love story between two boys. But where Heartstopper is more wholesome and feel-good, Young Royals is more mature, dark and dramatic (though it still has lighter moments to be sure!).
Now, let’s dive into my
What it’s about:
Young Royals is a six-episode Swedish teen show about the (fictional) Swedish Prince Wilhelm (played by Edvin Ryding). After getting into a fight in a night club, his family decides to send him to Hillerska, an elite boarding school. Wilhelm is initially very reluctant to go, but once there he meets Simon (played by Omar Rudberg), a singer in the Hillerska choir and a working-class, external student. Though the two come from completely different backgrounds, they form a strong, romantic connection that is not approved by Wille’s family.
Why I loved it :
The adorable yet heart wrenching romance between Wille and Simon
I’m going to be honest here: while the show admittedly has a lot of strong points, the one thing that drew me in most of all was the beautiful romance between Wille and Simon. The chemistry between the two is palpable from their very first scene (seeing Wille genuinely smile for the first time while watching Simon sing) and their journey from strangers to friends to lovers is filled with adorable, swoony and yes, heart wrenching moments. It feels like such a real, raw, honest depiction of young love. Kudos to both of the actors, who do amazing jobs at playing their respective characters and the intimate bond that forms between the two. Every subtle glance, smile and touch is just filled with so much chemistry. Perhaps some of it also has to do with the fact that the two actors are great friends in real life, perhaps it has to do with the fact that the show worked with an intimacy coordinator. Most likely it’s a combination of great acting combined with all of the above. It just worked so well.
The fresh take on classicism and the ‘royalty falling for normal person’ trope
Will I ever get enough of the royalty falling for a normal person trope? Probably not, and definitely not when shows like this deal with the trope in such a fresh and gripping way. Wille’s affection for Simon and his growing conflict between this love and his duty to his family and their reputation were gripping to watch and expertly acted by Edvin Ryding. The pressure on Wille’s shoulders is immense, and while we as a viewer may scream for him to rebel, stand up for himself and for Simon, and just be happy and live his life the way he wants to, it’s realistic that this doesn’t happen easily or quickly.
The show also deals with class and privilege in a very real way. From the differences and struggles of Simon and his family versus the privileged kids at Hillerska, to the misbehavior of August (Wille’s cousin) because of his focus on status and privilege and how he yet never faces any consequences for his actions, to the harmful actions of the Queen towards her son and her obsession with her family’s image. The show is dramatic sure, but it’s drama that provides a gripping commentary on class and wealth and is very relevant to the plot.
The secondary characters
While Wille and Simon as main characters are the biggest draw of the show, that’s not to say the secondary characters aren’t well developed, complex and intriguing either. The cast is quite small, but it’s effective as every character has the space to shine.
The most notable secondary character is August, Wille’s cousin who also attends Hillerska. He promises to help Wille and is a very driven, loyal character at first sight, but he’s also obsessed with his societal status and envious of Wille, which leads to some questionable actions.
Felice is modern nobility and just like Wille, bears the pressure of trying to live up to her parents’ expectations. She starts of the show with a crush on Wille but while she could have become a stereotypical bitchy rich girl, she becomes a supportive ally to Wille and I hope season 2 explores their friendship further.
And rounding out the secondary cast is Sara, Simon’s kind-hearted sister who also attends Hillerska and strikes up a friendship with Felice. Sara is diagnosed with Asperger’s and ADHD, and had some social difficulties at her previous school because of it, which is why she’s so protective of her life at Hillerska and the friendships she forms there.
The realistic depiction of teens
How refreshing is it to have a teen tv show where the teens actually look like teens? A show where acne and skin issues are normal and where the teen characters are not played by 29-year old models? This is realistic teen show and I just need to point that out, because we need more of that!
Like any show, a great soundtrack is just the cherry on top! I especially adored all the choir scenes. Omar Rudberg, who plays Simon, is a singer and his talent was put to good use on the show. Check out the below live performance by Omar and the Hillerska Choir, in which they perform two covers they did on the show: Remember and It Takes A Fool To Remain Sane. (Also, how adorable is Edvin’s support here?)
Also, the song Revolution by Elias really stood out to me on the soundtrack. It’s such a beautiful, haunting song that fits the vibe and themes of the show so perfectly. It’s also used during a specific scene and it was so perfect, I got chills…
I genuinely adored this show and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a gripping, emotional teen tv show. My only gripe is that the season was only 6 episodes long and I wish there had been more. But though it moves quickly, the show still packs quite the punch in that time and every single minute is amazing. The romance is adorable yet heart wrenching, the acting is superb, the characters complex and flawed, the themes relevant and important and the soundtrack on point. Beware of the brutal ending, but be glad to know season two is on the way – I know I am!