Young Royals 2021 Tv Series Review
Opening Shot: A young man leans over a dresser, his face cut and bruised. Someone tells him that a car is there to pick him up.
The Gist: Sweden’s Prince Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding) gets into a fight at the club, his parents, the king and queen, decide it’s best for him to go to Hillerska boarding school, where his older brother Erik (Ivar Forsling) went. He doesn’t want to go, because he likes his life in the city.
When he gets there, his cousin August (Malte Gårdinger), who rules the upperclassmen, especially the Forest Ridge House residence, is happy to show Wilhelm the ropes. He also wants to have an initiation party for his cousin; he hears that a non-resident student, Simon (Omar Rudberg) has a connection to some booze. Despite the fact that Simon and his sister Sara (Frida Argento) are outcasts, Simon gets them both invited to the party — an honor for a first year — in exchange for booze.
Wilhelm is intrigued by Simon, and sits next to him at lunch before August “saves” his royal cousin from the “non-res”. Simon and Sara live with their mother, but he reluctantly goes to his estranged father, who is an alcohol wholesaler, to get the booze for the party. We’re also introduced to Felice (Nikita Uggla), who aspires to marry royalty; August’s second cousin status isn’t nearly enough for her, especially with Wilhelm on campus.
The initiation is your typical overwrought affair, and lots of kids show up to the party ready to get drunk. Sara finds Felice, whom she knows from the horse riding team, already throwing up and they go out for some air. Wilhelm and Simon hide out from August and talk, which is when Wilhelm realizes that he’s attracted to Simon.
Our Take: At first blush, Young Royals elicits a big shrug from us. The series, created by Lisa Ambjörn, Lars Beckung and Camilla Holter feels like yet another YA/teen series about a bunch of overprivileged students doing things their parents wouldn’t approve of and exploring just what direction they want their lives to go in.
There’s nothing in the first episode that doesn’t persuade us otherwise. Wilhelm seems to be a young Harry Windsor-type who gets in trouble because he just isn’t sure who he is or wants to be. We appreciate the relationship he has with his brother Erik, but August looks like your average “big fish in a small pond” dickhead that populates every one of these kinds of shows and movies. He dresses too well for even the fashionable boarding school, walks and talks like he’s important even though he isn’t, is unnecessarily mean to people whom he thinks are “below” him, and shamelessly kisses up to his royal cousins.
The surrounding characters, except for Simon and Sara, seem to be just standard teen-show tropes. This includes Felice, who wants to go after a royal at the exclusion of everyone else. Simon and Sara are the exceptions because they have a backstory; their mother speaks Spanish to them at home, and they aren’t privileged in the least. Simon’s relationship with his father is transactional. Sara has ASD, at least according to what she tells Felice at the party, and is used to being unpopular.
The burgeoning relationship between Wilhelm and Simon, how that gets explored and how this will be tested by Wilhelm’s royal responsibilities, is what’s really going to make Young Royals stand out. If the pattern of the first episode continues, though, we’ll continue to shrug.