Queer at Every Level

Young Royals is a Swedish Netflix series that follows a fictional Swedish prince, Wilhelm, and his time at the Hillerska boarding school. Hillerska caters to the upper echelon of Swedish society, and all of the boarding residents are the children of the extremely wealthy. A few day students also attend this school, but it is known that it is because of scholarships and that these students do not hold the social clout of the boarding students.

Wilhelm finds himself entangled with one of these day students and struggles with his feelings that he might be gay. What sets him apart from his love interest, Simon, is not only a financial divide but a class divide and difference in societal expectations. Arguably, Wilhelm has anything that a person could want—wealth and power. But, while Simon has neither of these things, he has a warm and accepting family and lives his life out of the closet rather than burdened by the weight of discretion Wilhelm is forced to upkeep. 

I think that this story represents the idea of myth making particularly well. American society, specifically, is drawn to this story as a result of our intense interest in the English royal family. Although this story is Swedish, the audience is still drawn to a story of royalty because it is a perspective we will never know. This story is also influential because the family it writes about is fictional but the Swedish monarchy is real. This story could, in one way or another, happen in real life. It makes us draw connections between the show and the real world. We wonder how many times something similar has happened to a real monarch. While royals are few, statistically some of them must be queer. Yet, we never hear about it.

The idea that something that could be real, is similar to the mythmaking we see in The Legend of Auntie Po. Mei develops a story based on a “real” mythical character Paul Bunyan. Even though Mei’s story isn’t necessarily true, the circumstances in which she lives are historically accurate to some degree. While the book is a work of fiction, it, like Young Royals, invites the reader to consider our relationship with history, as well as the relationship that groups we are not a part of have with history. Ultimately, I think the way both of these works contribute to the genre of myth making is important because they accomplish the goal of myth making: by providing representation for underrepresented groups. Individually, I also commend these works because they help an audience recognize that queer people exist beyond a single setting and time period.

2 thoughts on “Queer at Every Level”

  1. I like how you compared The Legend of Auntie Po with Young Royal because each of these pieces, even though one is a book and one is a show, show how queerness intersects with other identities (I.e., class and race). Your comment resonated with me how these pieces showed that “queer people exist beyond a single setting and time period.” This comment made me think of @sadanddepressedgarbageenjoyer’s post HIV/AIDS Today. During the AIDS epidemic people associated gayness with disease and now, people are desensitized to the topic. As a queer person, I believe it is incredibly important to have perspective and tackle conversations with politeness and modesty because people may have had loved ones who died with AIDS.

  2. I agree, I think Young Royals successfully captures the racial and class divide that Simon faces at Hillerska, making the representation accurate. Similar to The Legend of Auntie Po, when media captures the context that surrounds queer stories, like race, class, religion, etc, it becomes more realistic. In Angels in America, a plethora of queer identities can be observed, with Belize being a Black ex-drag queen, and Roy Cohn being a closeted politician. The queerness in AIA, The Legend of Auntie Po, and Young Royals is not “monolithic”, as Eve Sedgwick claims, because queerness can never be one singular idea, it is a plethora of identities that comes together.

    Although idealistic queer media can be enjoyable to view, pieces like The Legend of Auntie Po and Young Royals touch on the reality of underrepresented queer people that have layered identities.

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