The Prince and the Commoner.
I discovered an enchanting Netflix series, a drama called Young Royals, recently. I found it browsing titles with the keywords gay romance. The series is Swedish, the cast are Swedes, and the dialogue is in Swedish. The conversation is dubbed into English with subtitles inserted to translate text messages, emails, and the like. The premise of the series rests on the protagonist, Prince Wilhelm, the younger son of the Swedish Royal family and his desire to live an everyday life. His elder brother, Prince Erik, the Crown Prince, is heir to the throne and groomed for his role as King. Wilhelm is the spare. As much as he wants a normal life, his mother, Queen Kristina of Sweden, reminds him that his life as a prince is a privilege, not a burden.
On that premise, Prince Wilhelm tries to fit in at the posh boarding school he is sent to; he wants to be like the other students. But, at the same time, he has to keep up appearances and avoid bringing shame on his family and the institution of the monarchy. The plot thickens when Wilhelm is smitten by a classmate, Simon, a student of Swedish and South American ethnicity and a commoner. Simon returns his feelings, and a romance blossoms. Unfortunately, the untimely death of Crown Prince Erik in a car crash forces Wilhelm to step into the role of Crown Prince. That only tightens the restrictions on how he conducts his personal life. When a cousin clandestinely shoots a video of Wilhelm and Simon in bed together and uploads it to social media, the proverbial shit hits the fan.
Yes, the subplots deal with issues that are universal for humanity: namely, honour, shame, duty, class distinctions, love, friendship, betrayal, dysfunction, drug and alcohol addiction, and the lengths families will go to avoid scandal. For example, the royal family covers up the scandal of Crown Prince Wilhelm's romance with Simon with a disingenuous denial that it is Wilhelm in the video. Another student is sacrificed to keep the Crown Prince out of an incident involving illicit drug use at the school. Avoiding shame and maintaining personal honour are powerful motivations, not just for royals.
There is much to like about Young Royals. The casting is superb. What struck me is that they chose actors and actresses who did not have the perfect Nordic features. That is not to say they are unattractive; instead, they look like the people watching the series. One usually expects the cast in teen drama series to have perfect complexions and chiselled figures. Instead, the characters look like people you see in everyday life. The characters are not larger than life, as is the reality of royal families in continental Europe; Crown Prince Wilhelm and the rest of his extended family dress and carry themselves as middle-class Swedes. The actors and actresses play their roles superbly.
Season two of Young Royals starts in November. I eagerly anticipate watching new episodes. The idea of a Crown Prince who is gay and wants an everyday life, including his love affair with another boy, a commoner, confronting the realities of royal duties, including taking a wife and producing an heir to the throne, intrigues me. I hope the second season will maintain the quality established in the first six episodes of season one.
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