Skam is back, and Sana’s season couldn’t have come at a better time for many of the world’s citizens who are struggling to stay positive (and, in some cases, safe) in the face of hatred, prejudice, and institutional corruption.
It’s no mistake that the opening montage of Season 4 features Donald Trump’s face spewing hate about something or another, followed by images from the wars and terror that so many westerners conflate with Islam. As much as I hate that Isak’s season had to end, if that had to happen to give Sana — one of the few Muslim protagonists on my screen right now — then I am OK with it. More than that, I welcome it with open arms.
Sana’s season begins with the Norwegian teen on the tram, people-watching (as Sana does) through the window. Her observations include some unabashed gawking at some hot guys on the street, but she is unable to fully revel in the classic teenage (or, you know, human) experience because of a) the cell phone reminder of the call to prayer and b) the rude woman glaring at her seemingly for daring to be Muslim. The latter is a painful reminder of the kind of shit Sana probably has to deal with on a daily basis as a Muslim living in a western country.
This won’t be the only time in the episode Sana has trouble simply finding the space to practice her faith. Later in the episode, when Sana and her friends go to a party, Sana escapes into a room to pray. She only makes it a few minutes before she is interrupted by an oblivious couple who plan to use the room to hook up. In both cases, Sana’s faith isn’t treated as a nuisance or an interruption from her life. It’s something that Sana clearly values, something that gives her some measure of peace, but she is also constantly being asked to conform, to take up less cultural space — both in overt and subtle ways — throughout the episode. It’s everything from her friends forgetting that she doesn’t eat pork to having to glare back at the woman on the tram.
Sana’s struggle to belong while being herself isn’t just confined to her life with her non-Muslim friends. She forgets to attend a event at her mosque about the role of women in Islam because Vilde arranges a hang out with Sana’s brother and his friends. It doesn’t seem like Sana intentionally forgot or that she didn’t want to attend, simply that it is a struggle for her to keep up with the commitments in both her home life and her friend life, perhaps especially because she seems intent on keeping them separate. “It would be much easier if you hung out with people who are more like you,” her mother tells her, not seeing that Noora, Eva, Vilde, and Chris are like her in so many ways.
It doesn’t seem unrelated that, when Vilde decides to try to set Noora up with either Sana’s brother Elias or one of his hot friends, Sana doesn’t seem into the idea. Yousef, Sana’s adorable crush, calls her out on it later, moments before Sana gets the call from her mom, wondering where she is. “You hate hanging out with us, don’t you?” he asks. It’s unclear if Sana actually hates it or if she is simply uncomfortable hanging out with both her non-Muslim friend and Elias & co. It might be difficult to keep these worlds separate, but Sana seems to think any crossover between the two would be worse, for some reason. (Feel free to leave your interpretation/insight on this in the comments below).
Speaking of Elias and his friends, I am already rooting for Sana and Yousef to get together. (How does Skam always so quickly make me care about these characters and their romances? It’s television sorcery!) I mean, look at their adorable faces…
Not only does Sana rarely ever smile like that, but Yousef seems to genuinely see and like Sana. He goodnaturedly asks her once the two have finished gazing at one another from across a crowded subway car: “You hate hanging out with us, don’t you?” She might not hate hanging out with every member of your boy squad, Yousef. Yeah, I ship it.
Of course, complications have already arisen in the form of Vilde’s matchmaking schemes. Desparate to find Noora a new boyfriend now that William may or may not be dating someone else (this has still been neither confirmed, nor denied — though Penetrator Chris does seem like a relatively reliable source), Vilde arranges the party with Elias, Yousef, and the other boys. The episode ends with Sana seeing Yousef and Noora in lively conversation on the couch. It all seems relatively platonic at this point, but that doesn’t stop Sana from being sad about it. Of course, as is Skam‘s way (especially at this point in a season), we viewers are the only ones who know about it.
Vilde mentions at one point that she would like for the girl group to rent an apartment on the beach in France. Um, yes please! Might this be a special part of the final season? Or, even better, a post-season finale special featuring all of the point-of-view characters from the four seasons?
Magnus and Vilde are going hot and heavy and it is both very sweet and a fount of too much information. Vilde is that friend you had in high school who was really, really excited when she started having sex and is going to tell her friends all about it, in excruciatingly intimate detail. It’s very in character.
Poor Noora. It’s hard to know what the Noora/William storyline would have looked like if the actor who played William hadn’t decided to leave, but it has left a bittersweet tinge to Season 2. I’m not sure what I hope for from these two now. On the one hand, I really liked the William/Noora relationship. On the other hand, Noora deserves someone who appreciates her. Jury’s still out on this one.
Luckily, Noora is back in her room in the shared apartment. This is because — wait for it — Isak and Even have moved in together. It’s still kind of weird to me that so many of these kids just live without parents, but I am too distracted by the Evak honeymoon period to gripe about it right now. These two deserve a little uncomplicated happiness after all of the drama and angst they went through in Season 3. Also, because I am worried that something might come between them, based on that Season 4 promo.
This has been widely talked about on Tumblr, but Skam creator Julie Andem used a fanart (from South Korean fan Sookyng Hahn) to create that shot of Isak’s boy squad together outside of Noora’s apartment. If that isn’t the sweetest creator-fandom moment I’ve heard about in a while, the I don’t know what is. Here’s the fan art…
And here’s the scene from the Season 4 premiere…
OK, so, at one point, Eva asks her friends if they want to come over her house to watch Paradise Hotel, which is apparently a major thing in Norway. The interesting thing is that it was originally an American reality TV show back in 2003 and 2008 about a group of single people who live in a luxurious hotel resort and compete for the privilege of staying in the hotel. They take turns sharing rooms with one another. This sounds vaguely familiar, but seemingly never reached the heights in American that its Norwegian counterpart has in Norway.
And just to make things even more meta, Paradise Hotel is currently having a Skam-themed week. Eva and Chris are talking about how they don’t understand it via message. Can any of us see the shape of our own existences? No. I understand their confusion.
— sav (@lisateige) April 19, 2017
Skam Season 4 Episode 1 Music
In case you are interested, here is all of the (great) music featured in the Skam Season 4 premiere:
“None of Dem” by Robyn (featuring Royksopp)
“Fy faen” by Hkeem and Temur
“Hot in herre” by Nelly
“Aloha” by Mome (featuring Merryn Jean)
“Nostalgi 3Milioner” by Tomine Harket (featuring Unge Ferrari)
“Chewing Gum” by Annie
“Best Friend” by Young Thug
“Smoke Weed Everyday” by Snoop Dogg
“The Next Episode” by Dr. Dre (featuring Snoop Dogg)
For more information about Skam Season 4, check out our episode guide and news roundup. And be sure to check back next week for a recap and review of Episode 2!