The first words that come to mind while viewing the Netflix original series, Young Royals, are refreshingly unadulterated. The Swedish series portrays the teen experience, pimples and raging hormones included, extravagantly in a storytelling format rarely seen on TV nowadays.
Produced By: Nexiko AB
Directed by: Rojda Sekersöz & Erika Calmeyer
Genre: Teen Drama, Romance
Release Date: July 1, 2021
Country Of Origin: Sweden
Language: Swedish (and lots of English)
No of Seasons: 1
No of Episodes: 6
IMDb Ratings: 8.6/10
The series opens with the blown-up introduction of the Swedish royal family's younger prince, Wilhelm, who gets involved in a club brawl. The royal is packed off to a boarding school to save face and maintain their public image. Once at school, he is backed and initiated into the rich, elite secret club. But he discovers a confusing curiosity piqued by his classmate, Simon, which zealously leads to the development of mutual love between the boys.
However, the unexpected demise of the crowned prince, Wilhelm's older brother, puts him in the spotlight. This means maintaining a social stature at all costs hampers the budding bond. The season wraps up with a sad yet hopeful note where the lovers break up, yet their love is still strong and evident—something to keep the viewers looking up to in a new season.
The storyline could have been like every other fairy tale. Prince meets Pauper, falls in love, and they live happily ever after. Suppose it was only that simple. Teenage life is drama, which is exactly what the series delivers. The love story is built up gradually, with little sideways glances, cute smiles, finger touches, and raspy breath-taking moments of freshly baked first love.
Yet, the most inadvertently relevant side, where raging hormones and sex rule the teenage mindset, is not sidetracked in the offer. The use of drugs and therapy to relieve painstaking absurdity is not a hidden concept either. The utterly misjudged teen prince and his risk-taking, fearless love interest are what ensure a part of the teen drama. The other half is beautifully painted on by the remaining side stories simultaneously. The directors have established an unsaid hierarchy within the characters. The definite plus for this series is the smart casting and excellent character performances managed by the group of seeming teenagers.
Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding)- The frustrated prince
He is easy to adapt to, mispronounced as a brat, and loathes attention. Annoyed with maintaining a facade, the prince prefers living the life of a commoner. Initially, curiosity consumes him, but once he accepts that he loves Simon, he paddles deep into the tunnel with no end. He is not quick to judge, and neither imparts any moral declarations when he learns Simon was dealing drugs on the campus. He knows he has the power, but neither brags nor coaxes over it. Kind and soft by nature, and it matters to him if people are hurt because of his disposition or actions. Heavily burdened with the sudden duty of being the crowned prince, he holds on to society and his family, even though it eats away at his bond with Simon.
Simon (Omar Rudberg) - The talented but poor love interest
He is motivated, unafraid, proud, and self-loving. Simon adores his autistic sister and ensures drastic measures to make people accept her. Despite his strong, independent nature, he has a sharp lying streak. He cares less about mingling with his classmates or their perceptions of him. His individuality shines through the royalty and elite presence surrounding him. Bold and out as gay, he pursues Wilhelm unabashed. Though in love, his self-esteem is greater, and he believes in being open about his sexuality in contrast to Wilhelm's closeted preferences to maintain the royalty image.
August (Malte Gårdinger)- The dual-natured, eye-candy
The second cousin to the princes has the popular boy disposition in the series. He excels in studies and sports and is a favourite of the school's headmistress. He serves as the perfect example of a person with duality. On the one hand, he ensures to sit on his high horse and not mix with commoners (in reality, his family is broke). On the other, he maintains a friendship with Simon, for he gets his stash of drugs from him. He is bold and pursues Felice tirelessly until they end up in a relationship. However, being haunted by ghosts from his traumatic past, he is paranoid and messes up. His frustrated, cold, and bullying nature occasionally surfaces despite his seeming perfection.
Sara (Frida Argento) - The socially awkward introvert
Simon's sister plays a person with ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome. Sara is a person who suffers greatly from linking with her peers on an emotional or, for that matter, a casual basis. Despite all these, her unhinged honest nature lets her strike a close relationship with Felice, a member of the horse riding club. She aspires to be like her elite friends and is affected immensely by their opinions about her.
Felice (Nikita Uggla) - The oppressed, stressed teen
The person, your teen self, would seem to sympathize with the most within the series is Felice. She is rich but not snobby, loyal, and loves her friends. Her initial obsession with Wilhelm gets quickly diverted when she learns she has no chance and, instead of letting the wound fester any further, gives up on pursuing him. She is seen to be too benevolent for her good and tries desperately to live up to her mother's expectations, meanwhile suffocating her true self from emerging. The series shows her growth as a person as she unshackles herself from standards and decides to live life as she is.
Highlights To Why I Recommend The Title
There are loads of LGBTQ+ stories out there, but not many manage the cut. The sole reason for recommending this title is raw, unfiltered drama and acting. In addition, the music score is hip and trendy and goes with the teenage scenario.
The definition of popularity in school gets mirrored to the actual degree, i.e. not glossed over with absurd rude, cheerleading, perfect skin girls as seen in usual teen series.
Simon and Sara's abusive past has moulded their bond to strengthen with time. The sibling dynamic is realistic and heartwarming. August's character portrays duality, but a very valid trauma is behind shaping his personality. He is ashamed of his lie, and to hide his stress, he resorts to drugs (an ugly truth and easy escape teenagers might fall prey to). Though August sometimes bullies, guilt washes over as well, which shows he is a teen who desperately seeks assurance and attention.
The queer elements are allowed to exist in the series not just as mere exhibits but to pause on the fact that love is love. Wilhelm seems confused about his sexuality but quickly accepts that what he feels for Simon is not curiosity but sexual attraction. Wilhelm and Simon's relationship is built on healthy conversation, showing the gradual attraction to love.
In short, this is a must-watch for me, with several notable appreciable moments and true portrayals.
Image Source~ IMDb