Teenagers actually look and behave like teenagers
Far too often, young people in coming-of-age entertainment vehicles look, act and feel a little too mature for real teens to relate to on a deeper level. Notorious actors have birth dates long before the people they portray onscreen (Darren Barnet, who plays 16-year-old Paxton Hall-Yoshida in Mindy Kaling’s hit series I have never, is 13 years older than her character!) Not only does this force viewers to meet an unrealistic standard of beauty, it also breaks the immersive quality that a real television has to transport us to different worlds that connect to our own.
Edvin Ryding is 18 and Omar Rudberg is 22. With pimple-stained faces and makeup little used to mask other superficial imperfections on the cast, the folks on this show seem like they can show up at any high school in your neighborhood and fit in perfectly. It lends an authenticity to the storytelling that you just don’t get with the majority of teen love media. Perhaps the reason for such realism is because European filmmakers strive to achieve higher artistic standards when filming, avoiding the degrading expectations of sex appeal and maturity that haunt American directors. Whatever the reasoning behind it, the show’s cast is a breath of fresh air.
The story skips the often redundant journey of coming out
I want to start by clarifying one thing: the coming out journey is one of the most important tropes used in LGBTQ movies and television; I wrote a full essay on how Love, VictorThe exquisite and heartfelt description of this plot point has helped me come out of the closet in my own life. When done right, this scenario can be both inspiring and important to the young queer community. The problem is, all too often the coming out process is the sole focus, and all of the other life dynamics of gay teens are pushed aside and under-examined.
Young Royals gives you a negligible grip when it comes to explaining the sexuality of the two protagonists: Simon mentions in a conversation with his father that he’s gay, and Wilhelm’s own thoughts are so focused on the former that we immediately know how enamored he is with his charming classmate. There is a bit of internal denial from Wilhelm when he tells Simon that he “isn’t like that” after sharing an awkward first kiss, but we know he’s not kidding us or his lover.
The intense romantic energy is so new, raw and real that no one needs to come out of it; it is obvious that these two are gay as hell to each other and this discovery is absolutely magnificent. As mentioned, however, Wilhelm is part of a royal family and coming out publicly as a celebrity is a whole different topic the series is preparing well for in a possible second season.
Sexual expression is explored on an emotional level
The show is rated TV-MA, but it cannot be nudity or graphic sexual expression. The passion between Wilhelm and Simon is certainly physical to a certain extent, but the little things, the little moments of young love mean so much more than watching two actors bicker like wild animals or pornstars. Brief kisses in the forest, holding hands while watching a movie, and dropping off a quick breakfast in class are all some of the enviable acts of emotional desire displayed by the characters.