Young Royals: The Netflix Teen Drama You Should Be Watching
By: Mireya Perez
Young Royals is a TV series produced by Netflix Sweden that began streaming on the platform on July 1st. It follows Wilhelm, a rebellious Swedish prince who gets sent to one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the country, where he falls in love with Simon, a lower-class boy. Don’t be fooled by this familiar premise—Young Royals is not the dramatic soapy romance we’re used to seeing in coming-of-age shows. Instead, Young Royals highlights familiar themes that other shows fail to portray.
Check out the official trailer here:
Prince Wilhelm (played by Edvin Ryding) comes off as a very confused character. He is, after all, a teen with too much on his plate. Being compared to his brother, the heir to the throne, weighs heavy on his shoulders. He enters his new school not knowing where he fits. When he meets Simon (played by Omar Rudberg), this changes. The relationship between both characters develops in a unique way. It is pure, shy, and viewers will enjoy watching it unravel.
Simon is a very much needed character in media. Half Hispanic, he often speaks in Spanish at home, and while his family struggles to make ends meet, he does everything in hand to help. Contrary to Wilhelm, he knows who he is and what he wants. The boy catches the attention of the Prince while singing in the school choir. It’s at that moment when the audience is introduced to Simon. The contrast between both characters is noticeable, but so is their desire to be different from everyone else at their school.
Edvin Ryding stated in an interview that they didn’t want to label Wilhelms’s sexuality to show that it is okay to be unlabeled. Ryding said that his character doesn’t feel comfortable with himself because he has lacked familial support growing up. On the contrary, Rudberg thinks that Simon feels comfortable thanks to the closeness to his family. He has a careless attitude, while Wilhelm has never had the chance to be careless.
Shows portraying LGBT relationships tend to stereotype or represent unhealthy tropes such as the bully-turned-lover. In Young Royals, the dynamic between both characters feels refreshing. Their relationship relies heavily on the communication and understanding of both parties involved. The writing is not perfect, but it is mature and enjoyable when it needs to be.
Secondary characters also carry important messages. Simon’s sister Sara (played by Frida Argento) suffers from Asperger’s and ADHD. She shows traits of neurodivergency that are often underrepresented in media. Her character is complex and the difficulties caused by her pathologies polish her storyline without being demonized. Her best friend is Felice (played Nikkita Ugla), a popular girl that doesn’t fit in the stereotype of a Regina George modeled preppy boarding school queen bee—she is black, mid-sized, and has normal skin texture like the rest of us. This relatable character ends up being one of the most lovable people on the show.
Many have praised this show for hiring teenage actors to play teenagers instead of actors pushing 30 (Edvin Ryding, playing the lead character, is 18, while Nikkita Ugla is 19). The casting of age-appropriate actors makes the show relatable to young watchers and avoids the normalization of unattainable body-image expectations.
All things considered, Young Royals understands what LGBT and teen shows need. Both writers and actors are deeply involved in the development of the Swedish show, and it certainly makes it worth the watch.