Naturalistic and gripping, this Swedish import transcends the cliché it could have been and becomes something more unusual: a teen drama that actually feels like it could be telling a true story. When we first meet Prince Wilhelm, he's brawling in a club; moments later, he's being called on the carpet, literally, by his parents, tasked with giving a public apology for his mistakes of the night before, and announcing his enrollment at the elite boarding school his brother attended. And so the plot of Young Royals is set into motion, with privileged teens behaving badly, improbably riotous teen parties, boarding school bullies, and all the other tropes of glitzy series about rich kids in trouble. And yet, the show's filming style alerts the viewer that something different is afoot here: The lighting is realistic, not glossy; the characters have texture to their skin (and zits!); the teens look awkward and imperfect, like they're the right age for their roles (star Edvin Ryding was born in 2003).
There's something fascinating, too, in all the posturing -- high school personal politics with a large dash of classism. Wilhelm's classmate Felice (Nikita Uggla), the richest of rich girls, intends to marry a noble and kisses up to Wilhelm shamelessly; the interest of Wilhelm's cousin August isn't enough. "His sons won't be princes and princesses," she sniffs. Simon, as a "non-res" (meaning that he lives in town and attends classes at the school by day), is constantly reminded of his status. And yet Wilhelm, given enormous privilege due to his title, is no happier; one of Young Royals' strengths is that it puts his misery on full display as he's directed to repeat actions for clicking cameras and otherwise display royal deportment at all times. Being a teen is hard, and it appears that being a royal teen is even harder (if more luxe), but it sure is fun to watch.