A little over a year has passed, and damn, Omar Rudberg has become twice as cute! Maybe that’s not the first thing to write about in a review, but Rudberg’s vocal talent and sheer gorgeousness as Simon in ‘Young Royals’ makes it extremely believable that a crown prince would be ‘truly, deeply, madly’ in love with him. And Edvin Ryding portrays the pining Prince Willhelm with a vulnerability emblematic of first love.
Season Two of the Swedish Netflix series ‘Young Royals’ picks up the plot a few weeks after the first season. Willhelm is back in Hillerska for a new semester, hoping to reconcile with his boyfriend, but Simon wants nothing to do with him. This only makes the crown prince more determined in seeking revenge against August (Malte Gardinger), who had recorded and leaked his private moments with Simon, causing a national scandal. Meanwhile, Simon’s sister Sara (Frida Argento) starts to live on campus and is strongly attracted to August, despite being aware of his heinous activities.
With just six episodes to boot, ‘Young Royals’ season two is gripping, pacy, filled with teenage pangs of love, angst, fear, despair and hope. A little older than before, Edvin Ryding is a lot more charming as Willhelm in this edition as his character gets more multi-faceted. No longer just a ‘back up’ to the throne, Willhelm is still grieving the death of his older brother, the tragic loss only compounded by heartbreak, with Simon no longer on his side. At the same time, he also indulges in devious little tricks to hurt August whenever he can, as legal recourse isn’t a feasible option. So, Edvin pulls off being vulnerable and lost in one scene, then switching to cold and calculated the next. Oh and the chemistry between the two lead actors is glorious. Simon tries to ‘move on’, he has his choir practice to focus on and even finds a great distraction – a student from another school called Marcus (Claes Hartelius).
Again, just like season one, all characters have grey shades to them, except new addition Marcus, who in Simon’s words is quite ‘perfect’. Love a show where they throw in a rival who is good enough to steal the protagonist’s thunder. Because Marcus and Simon are pretty cute together, even if their chemistry isn’t as electric as Willhelm-Simon. Then there’s Sara, who continues to be a problematic character, yet, it’s hard to despise her, she is a weird mixture of innocence and deviance. Malte Gardinger makes for an ambivalent antagonist as August, he seems to be genuinely repentant for his actions, but he doesn’t do much to deserve redemption. The lavish scenic setting of Hillerska, the boarding school for the super rich and royals with fancy balls, exclusive parties, bizarre rituals and sex scandals, makes viewers forget that the primary characters are all just sixteen/seventeen year olds. So of-course they are going to make stupid decisions, be jerks, partake in hasty actions and regret them later.
‘Young Royals’ is set in a world far removed from the daily grind of middle-class mundane lives, but it does have elements that’ll echo with a lot of viewers, right from those who are in their teens to those who remember what it was like to be one and feel like you’d die if things didn’t go your way. While a lot of teen scripts unwittingly make the problems of privileged rich protagonists seem silly and hilarious, the writers of ‘Young Royals’ manage to make viewers empathize with Willhelm. They make you realize he is just a 16-year-old, who is expected to carry the burden of a grown man – of being the perfect crown prince, of indulging in activities he has no interest in, of having to deny his sexuality, even if it means hurting those he loves. Will he be crushed under rules and traditions and become a royal puppet or can he carve out his own path?
Episode six was a bit of a roller-coaster ride, it starts off in a way that makes you wonder “how are they going to wrap this up?”. Pretty much every little sub-plot is only half-resolved until episode six, but the writers cleverly escalate things and bring the story to a full circle. The soundtrack is laden with songs that blend fantastically with the plot, in-fact, this time around the music is better than season one.
I thoroughly enjoyed binge-watching this show, so it’s a solid 9/10 from me.
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