The current landscape of teen dramas has become increasingly unrealistic over the last decade. Viewers online complain about the unrealistic, hypersexualized depiction of teens in shows like “Riverdale” and “Euphoria.” It’s difficult to feel normal when the majority of teenagers on TV look like adults.
Because of this, the entertainment industry has struggled with how to accurately portray teenagers. Some shows are filled with memes and slang, but a lack of understanding what that really means. Some feel like you’re watching a fanfiction of what a teen show should be.
“Young Royals” has managed to feel like a show about actual teenagers that you want to keep watching. The actors have acne and are played by teenagers, with the main character Wilhelm portrayed by 19-year-old actor Edvin Ryding.
The show depicts the relationship between scholarship student Simon (Omar Rudberg) and fictional prince of Sweden Wilhelm portrayed by Ryding at a prestigious boarding school. Wilhelm struggles with the responsibility given to him this season after the death of his brother.
Originally released in 2021, the show’s second season hit Netflix on Nov. 1, continuing this storyline. Although it seems unrelatable to the average person, it allows the show writers to explore an important part of the LGBTQ+ experience: coming out.
“I feel like they portray [it] accurately in the setting,” junior gender and sexuality studies major Yulian Villada said. “You can’t be gay and be a royal ‘cause it’s essentially going to destroy the patriarchy.”
Instead of the show focusing solely on his queerness, the context of Wilhem facing pressure as crown prince makes him a three-dimensional character, something LGBTQ+ representation in the media often struggles with.
In an interview with W Magazine, Ryding said, “Sexuality is not the focal point or the problem here, which I think is a very important message to tell,” he explains. “His issue is not that he’s in love with a boy, it’s that he’s the Crown Prince.”
This is what the season’s final moments build up to. Will Wilhem choose to face his feelings and finally admit his relationship with Simon, or will the pressures of the crown catch up to him?
Wilhelm challenges tradition and the idea of what a prince and in general what a guy in a position of power should be, finding his voice in a sea of others who have their own opinions about who he should be. This theme persists throughout his conflict with the crown and the constant push and pull game he plays with his mother over the season.
It’s not just relatable for LGBTQ+ youth, but young people in general. Gen Z youth can struggle with feeling lost as we come out of a worldwide pandemic and are forced to redefine our beliefs.
“Young Royals” encapsulates the internal conflict that most young people are grappling with and provides a voice that feels honest and authentic to the people it represents.