With Season 2 of “Young Royals” dropping November 1 on Netflix, fans of the Swedish series can now find out what happens as Prince Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding) hopes to repair his relationship with Simon (Omar Rudberg) — and punish his cousin August (Malte Gårdinger), who destroyed it.
To recap, in Season 1, Wilhelm was sent to Hillska, a school for young royals, after getting involved in a scandal. He quickly fell in love with a local student, Simon, and when they were in bed together, August filmed them and disseminated their sex tape. The Royal Family lied about Wilhelm’s participation to save face, which drove a wedge between Wilhelm and Simon. The other significant development was that Wilhelm became the crown Prince after his older brother died unexpectedly.
Season 2 starts with August groveling for Wilhelm’s forgiveness. However, Wilhelm uses his power to humiliate August, taking a stand against tradition and denying the seniors their privileges. This theme is carried throughout all of the season’s episodes as various characters rebel against an oppressive authority in the hope of creating change. In fact, at the end of the first episode, an unhappy Wilhelm calls his mother, the Queen (Pernilla August), to tell her he may refuse the crown. And, as Wilhelm soon learns, such decisions have consequences.
Wilhelm is still smarting from how his relationship with Simon imploded. Making matters worse, Simon has started dating Markus (Tommy Wättring), in part because he cannot be near Wilhelm. Simon has trust issues with Wilhelm and tries not to engage with his “ex.” Both young men are awkward around each other at school, and while it is clear they want to express what they are feeling, they are afraid to do so and hurt worse.
Confused and miserable, and forced to placate his mother, Wilhelm has agreed to see a therapist to discuss his feelings of grief over his late brother, his anger about the situation with Simon, as well as the anxiety he is experiencing being the Crown Prince. But mostly, Wilhelm is jealous that Simon is trying to move on. Wilhelm confides in Felice (Nikita Uggla), which generates more unwanted gossip.
“Young Royals” squeezes juice out of every character’s most private moments. There is a subplot involving Simon’s sister Sara (Frida Argento) giving into her romantic feelings for August, (a storyline that originated last season). But the couple keep their relationship secret for various reasons. One reason is because August is Felice’s ex, and Sara is Felice’s best friend. Another is that Sara also knows that August made the sex tape featuring her brother with Prince Wilhelm.
But there are other clandestine relationships afoot. Sara deduces that one of her female classmates is in love with another girl, but the lovesick young woman is afraid to tell her would-be girlfriend her real feelings because it might ruin their friendship. Likewise, another student, Nisse, confides in Wilhelm that he is gay and maintains discretion in his relationships, encouraging Wilhelm to do the same.
The secrets and lies create plenty of drama, but the series also offers various characters second chances for redemption. There is plenty of betrayal going on in Season 2, and not all of it is relationship-based. Classmates and friends turn on each other as various duplicities are revealed. And various teens couple up, uncouple, or recouple, most notably in a Valentine’s Day costume Ball in Episode 4, which sets up who will end up — or break up — with whom by the season’s end.
While “Young Royals” may feature its teen characters having sex, the canoodling on screen is mostly chaste. (There is plenty of kissing, but usually just a “morning after” scene to indicate who spent the night together). What seems to be the focus is on how these youths are experiencing their first pangs of love, and the decisions they make as a result of those emotions with little regard about how they affect others.
As the romances play out, the season culminates with several narrative threads converging. One involves Prince Wilhelm reluctant about having to make a speech at the school’s Jubilee for the senior class. Another situation arises involving a song Simon wrote to perform at the celebration; there are political reasons to stick with tradition. A third issue involves the sex tape August posted, which, if reported to the police could land the youth in jail. Of course, “Young Royals” features both bombshells and cliffhangers to keep viewers engaged.
The series is enjoyable because the cast takes the material seriously without making it soapy or campy. Edvin Ryding conveys Wilhelm’s angst without overdoing it, and Omar Rudberg is winning as Simon, whose class often stands in the way of his happiness. As August, Malte Gårdinger is suitably hateful, but he does engender sympathy at times. In support Nikita Uggla provides a warm, engaging presence as Felice, and Frida Argento distinguishes herself as Sara, a young woman who is met with a series of moral quandaries.
“Young Royals” is addicting enough to binge all six 40-45-minute episodes in one sitting.
“Young Royals: Season 2” | Available November 1 on Netflix.