A fallen English muffin kicked off the second season of SKAM Austin.
The Facebook Watch series, which is based on the Norwegian TV series Skam, isn’t your typical teen drama. Like its predecessor, SKAM Austin was broadcasted in real time. So when one of the characters was having trouble during a morning class, the clip would drop at that time of day. Essentially, it’s like you were right there in the room following along with everything that was unfolding. On top of the innovative unveiling method, SKAM Austin also supplemented the clips with what the creative team calls “transmedia.” This included Instagram posts, screenshots of text conversations, SoundCloud tracks, and more from the show’s characters. These bits and pieces helped flesh out the entire story. That's where the ruined breakfast played a part: to jumpstart season two, one of the characters posted the sad image on Instagram, an innocuous, unfortunate moment during the day that any normal person might post about.
“It's a complete and total collaboration. Having content coming out every day on different platforms, on Instagram, and on Facebook for the clips means that we're thinking in a very world-building kind of way as opposed to something very micro,” showrunner Karen DiConcetto told Teen Vogue. “From the very beginning, I was so excited about being able to tell stories in this way because it's so immersive and it's so different than anything I'd ever gotten to be a part of before.”
Season one of the series was mainly about Megan Flores (Julie Rocha) and her relationship with Marlon, which put a strain on her friendship with Abby due to the fact that she and Marlon used to date. The second season, which came to a close at the end of this past May, centered on Grace Olsen (Kennedy Hermansen) who navigated having feelings for Bouldin High's popular football captain Daniel Williamson (Austin Terry) all the while balancing her own beliefs as a feminist.
Along with thinking about things that real high schoolers would post on social media, SKAM Austin also cast actual teens to play the characters to make sure that the stories being told were as realistic as possible. These actors served as a "gut check," and they had the freedom to speak up when they felt that something in the script wasn't working. For example, when the creative team initially had them celebrating Halloween in Game of Thrones costumes, one of the actors delicately let them know that they didn't know a lot of teens who actually watched the HBO series. The idea was scrapped.
"Our North Star has always been about being authentic and making sure that whatever we're putting out via the post, via a song, via an essay or something as simple as like changing a profile picture or archiving a post, like all of that has to do with story and character and remaining true to the personalities of the show," Eleanor Laurence, who leads the transmedia team and social strategy behind the characters, told Teen Vogue. "Maybe it's just the shows I've worked on, but I very rarely have encountered the level of involvement that these kids or actors have in sort of just speaking to who they think their character is and how they want to express their character."
Karen, Eleanor, and the rest of the creative team also wanted to ensure that this authenticity was present even when SKAM Austin tackled heavier subject matter. In one of the clips from season two, Grace goes to Daniel's house looking for him but ends up finding his brother Clay throwing a party. He gets into her head, telling Grace that his brother is a major player and that he'll soon get over her. That leads to Grace, who doesn't drink, taking a shot and going down a slippery road for the night. In a follow-up clip, Grace can be seen in a car with Clay driving and the last flash is headlights shining in their faces and screaming as the car swerves, then cutting to black.
Grace ended up being okay as the next episode revealed, but the creative team thought carefully about how they'd depict the aftermath of the car scene. As Grace waits for her car the next morning to take her home, viewers sit through that wait with her. On top of that, the transmedia team were trying to get into the heads of Grace's friends with regards to how they'd be checking in with her via text messages or Instagram.
"You have to think about it from all sides and you have to make sure that to the best of our ability, that we're telling this story in a way that's going to resonate," Karen said. "SKAM is about a community of friends who navigate life together and support each other, and while it doesn’t shy away from real issues, the message is that there’s a way through all of it."
As mindful as SKAM Austin was when it came to Grace's turbulent storyline this past season, there were also plenty of other moments that showed how fun it was to be a show that used social media as part of the storytelling. Earlier in the season, fan favorite Shay had gone dark on social media after getting wrapped up in some drama. She ended up archiving all the photos on her old Instagram, but had a finsta that was building up content throughout the rest of the season. At the very end of the season, her best friend Tyler accidentally tagged her finsta in a pic and suddenly everyone knew about Shay's private account. She ultimately made the Instagram public, ready for people to get an inside look at her life again.
"Then in that episode, we have Shay confronting Tyler about accidentally tagging her, so that also alerts fans to the fact that this is happening," Eleanor said. "I think a big point is like, okay, fans — we want to meet you at the level of sophistication that you're operating at and the way they find the bread crumbs."
"When you're doing something that's more traditional, you really don't get to have all of these different places where you can just play and push things and see, as an experiment," Karen added. "It's so much fun planting those Easter eggs and being able to like have this huge playground."
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue