Hillerska, a prestigious Swedish boarding school, is blessed to house the country’s Crown Prince…and his secret boyfriend. Young Royals was released on Netflix in 2021, and was a gigantic hit (Season one got a 99% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes). Following this success, season two opens with Prince Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding) and Simon (Omar Rudberg) still reeling from last season’s sex tape scandal and the negative effect it had on their relationship.
While it seems like not much happens this season, it was still a very enjoyable experience. The true conflict is slow to start, with much of the first half of the season being build-up, but the absolute destruction of characters that comes with the last few episodes saves the season from turmoil. This season combines an agonizingly slow exposition with exciting character arcs and a royally dramatic plot.
Much like the first season, season two showcases a slow-burn, mutual pining between Wilhelm and Simon. The difference is that this season merges that pining with an unwillingness to trust. Simon feels betrayed by Wilhelm, while Wilhelm is desperate to get their relationship back to the way it was. This is tense and riveting…at first. But it takes too long, and makes the first half of the season repetitive and boring.
It’s ridiculous how many times basically the same scene is repeated. Wilhelm will see Simon while Simon is trying to move on, and then they both end up sad and being comforted by either their new love interest or their best friend. I lost count of how many times this happened during the season. Yes, it makes sense that the two would feel awkward around each other and need comforting from their friends, but come on, can we please do something else? While there are smaller storylines happening at the same time, we are mostly focused on the romance, so this unending repetition becomes annoying quickly.
The entire first half of the season is the same thing over and over again, and I started to get sick of it. If there was not the stunningly impressive turn-around at the end of the season, this would be a much different review. It wasn’t until the end of episode four (of six) that I really felt that edge-of-your-seat feeling that can be so important in creating entertaining stories.
The Crown Jewels of Character Arcs
While the pacing may be lackluster, the characters are not. Simon cultivates his passion for music, which is a great addition not only for character growth, but because Omar Rudberg is a musician as well. Sara’s (Frida Argento) actions turn careless, August (Malte Gårdinger) becomes even more sinister, and Wilhelm questions his morals. The development of these four is just incredible. Felice (Nikita Uggla) is there, but she mostly just serves as a shoulder to cry on in this season, so her character arc is slim if not non-existent.
While Felice may not have great character development, the others certainly do, and it greatly enhances the storyline. All of these characters show a different side of themselves. Simon turns from a giver to putting his own needs first for once, while Wilhelm struggles against a horrifyingly powerful villain: the pressure to be the Crown Prince. Sara and August really show their evil sides. August already sucks as a person—he did film and leak a sex-tape of two minors to get back at the prince—but his almost-redemption arc crashing and burning highlights his antagonist tendencies. Sara gets worse as well. She falls in love with August, knowing all of the horrible stuff he’s done to her friends and brother. It is an exciting twist to add to the already dramatic plot. The character development this season is top tier.
A Noble Turn-Around
Once the repetitiveness is over, the show finally delves into the real climax. Wilhelm and Simon start creating more of a scandal, and Sara and August continue to dip dangerously close to the antagonist zone.
This is what I had wanted from the show. Scandals and drama mixed with forbidden romances? Sounds amazing. But at this point, I really wasn’t expecting much. There was no way that the season could turn around and bring the legend back to the Young Royals name. I was wrong. Oddly, the build-up is worth it. August concocts an insane plan to get what he wants, sweetheart Sara performs almost a complete personality-180, and Wilhelm and Simon increase the panic of the last few episodes attempting to make an impossible decision. It is extremely fun to watch, but the best part is the ending.
In the last scene of the season, Wilhelm gives a speech to the entire school, with the pressure of the royal family hoping he won’t disappoint them. It starts out normal. Wilhelm reads from the prepared speech he was given, showing that he’s slowly getting over his fear of one day becoming King, but then he blurts out: “It was me in that video.” And uproar ensues. It is a perfect ending to the season, leaving us hooked while still satisfying the need for development with the scandal that has been haunting the characters since the end of season one. And this is so perfect because it is a reasonably crazy plot twist. Anyone watching season two could probably tell something was going to come out during Wilhelm’s speech: he could have exposed August, kept his mouth shut, or withdrawn from his title. But he doesn’t do any of that. He exposes himself, showcasing his true nature and character development. It is a genius ending for a wonderful season.
Season two is definitely a worthy successor to the first season, and it may even be better. Great character arcs and dramatic storylines shine in this season, giving Young Royals the title of a wonderful romance show, and leaving fans on the edge of their seats, wishing for more.
Contact Riley Nower with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or @rileynower on Instagram.