When the teen drama Skam first premiered in 2015, it became an unexpected online sensation for its edgy, often explicit portrayal of high school life. It soon built up a worldwide fan base and has been remade for audiences across the globe in countries such as France, Italy, and the US via Facebook Watch.
Now Chinese social media is abuzz over the rumor that the popular Norwegian web TV series might be getting a China remake.
A poster recently began to circulate online seeking cast members for the show. According to the poster, the TV show will be made by video platform Youku and Feng Sheng Yue Dong Times Culture Media in Beijing, and shooting will begin July 20. The show is currently trending on microblogging site Weibo under the hashtag #Skam中国版# (“Skam Chinese version”), and has some 240 million reads to date.
Screenshots of the Skam casting poster (image: Weibo)
However, according to local media outlets (link in Chinese), the proposed remake is as of yet a rumor. Feng Sheng Yue Dong Times Culture Media also declined to comment to RADII on the proposed remake of the show.
Among other things, Skam became famous for tackling topics such as homosexuality and religion, ones that typically come under scrutiny on Chinese television and streaming sites. As such, netizens are both surprised and skeptical about the idea of a Chinese remake of the TV show. One Weibo user questioned how the show would be made in a country “without any sex education and no recognition of homosexuality.”
“It’s likely that we’ll end up with a different version [of the show],” wrote another. “But let’s not forget the spirit of the original.” The Chinese version of the Norwegian TV show is set to be called Rebellion (叛逆), according to the poster. The original title of the TV show, Skam, is Norwegian for “shame.”
China has traditionally had a history of scrubbing homosexual depictions from mainstream media. As recently as 2018, microblogging site Weibo included homosexual content among their classification of “vulgar content” to be removed from their site. Fierce backlash eventually forced the site to back down on the measure.
Online “Clean Up” Continues as Weibo Targets Homosexual Content and Grand Theft Auto [updated]
In some instances, this has extended to imported films and television being released for Chinese audiences.
In 2019, the Chinese release of Bohemian Rhapsody was met with furore after three minutes of the film’s gay scenes were scrapped from the film. The Chinese remake of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was also torn apart online for promoting reductive, shallow stereotypes, as well as failing to capture the spirit of the original show.
But progress is also seemingly being made in LGBTQ+ representation. In 2019, Alibaba-owned ecommerce platform Tmall featured a gay couple in a Chinese New Year advertisement — a move that was widely seen as a big step forward for LGBTQ+ acceptance in the country. Not long after, Chinese officials issued a rare public acknowledgment of the outpouring of support from citizens and advocacy groups for making same sex marriage legal.
Is China Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage?
And just last week Chinese tech company ByteDance — best known outside of China for being the creators of TikTok — elicited warm praise after including same sex couples in a public WeChat post about staff and their loved ones.
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