This image is from the official trailer of “Young Royals,” distributed by Netflix.

On Nov. 1, nearly a year and a half after season one premiered, “Young Royals” season two was released on Netflix, having been highly anticipated by fans since its announcement. “Young Royals” is a Swedish Netflix series that explores teenage love over the course of six 45-minute episodes.

Season one follows Prince Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding, “Gåsmamman”) as he enrolls at Hillerska, a fancy Swedish boarding school, and learns how to fit in with his peers. Eventually, he falls in love with a classmate, Simon Eriksson (Omar Rudberg, debut), and struggles to balance his personal life with his royal duties. The first season ends in heartbreak: Wilhelm (Wille) essentially gets outed after his cousin and classmate, August (Malte Gårdinger, “#will”), recorded and leaked a video of him and Simon. Wille’s status as crown prince makes the video the scandal of the century, and the royal palace’s urgency to cover it up leaves Simon feeling like Wille’s family is ashamed of him. In the final episode of the first season, Wille, still very much in love with Simon, tells Simon how he feels. Simon doesn’t return the sentiment, leaving Wille heartbroken. The turn of events left fans eager to see what season two would bring for Simon and Wille, hopeful that their relationship would be rekindled.

Thankfully, season two did not disappoint and even marked a significant step up from season one. This season gets much more emotional and contains more character development, both for our two main characters, Wille and Simon, and several supporting characters like August, Felice (Nikita Uggla, debut) and Simon’s sister, Sara (Frida Argento, “Astrid”). Season one focused much more on Wille’s integration into the school’s culture (including drug deals, initiation ceremonies and parties), his newfound status as crown prince, August’s financial issues and Simon’s relationship with his family. That world-building was needed to establish a vivid background for viewers, but it also meant less time was spent diving deep into each character’s emotions, motivations and issues. With its foundation well-established, “Young Royals” was able to get much more personal this season.

In season two, Wille is furious at August for leaking the video, and a rivalry begins to form. The animosity between the two gives more insight into August’s morals, motivations and values, making him more multi-dimensional. He’s probably the most hateable character in the show: August is an all-around selfish, arrogant and egotistical person motivated by power and status. Personally, I will never be able to forgive him for leaking the video of Wille and Simon or for how emotionally manipulative he is towards Sara, but even then, I still feel a very teeny bit bad for him (almost a nonexistent amount, but still). Season one touched briefly on August’s personal life, making it apparent that he didn’t come from a loving family and the lack of support is likely what led August to seek attention, external power and validation to feel worthy.

When Wille threatens August’s status during season one by exposing his dire financial situation to his peers at school, August lashes out by leaking the video. It was later revealed that Wille asked the royal family to help pay for August’s tuition, at which point August immediately felt regretful for his actions. His character is further explored in season two as Wille meticulously strips him of his status at school — and thus his sense of self — sending August into an emotional spiral. He seems to face an intense internal moral struggle after releasing the video, which probably had something to do with his lack of a loving familial environment and supportive relationships, leaving viewers hopeful that August really is changing. By revealing more about August’s emotions, motivations and character in season two, viewers begin to feel for him and realize he might not be pure evil, but just another struggling human being.

Sara is also a somewhat ambiguous character; initially, it’s easy to like her because she is so sweet and seems like someone who is an outcast for no good reason. In season two, however, she reveals a much more morally questionable side by continuing to withhold the knowledge from Simon that it was August who leaked the video and eventually getting into a secret relationship with August, making viewers feel much more negatively towards her. However, we also see Sara struggle deeply with her own decisions, delivering one of the most insightful quotes about young love of the season when she says, “You can’t control your feelings. So if you have feelings for the wrong person, that can feel just right,” in regards to her relationship with August. Sara is an incredibly nuanced character, and she does seem like someone with a good heart who’s struggling to navigate a first love while also considering what seems morally right and wrong. Having multiple characters in a moral gray area, like August and Sara who straddle the line of likability, makes for a much more engaging watch.

Wille and Simon’s relationship is the centerpiece of the show, and the way their teen love is portrayed on screen is both refreshing and realistic. Ryding and Rudburg (who play Wille and Simon) have incredible on-screen chemistry and are able to portray love, especially first love, in such a beautiful way. The awkwardness of being in a teenage relationship is evident, but so is the intensity of first love. The show also does a great job of showing many intimate, non-sexual moments, something that is too often glossed over in television and media, making the relationship seem that much more special and realistic. “Young Royals” has created a relationship that might be more honest and heartfelt than any other young romantic relationship I’ve seen onscreen.

After the fallout at the end of season one, Wille and Simon are separated for the majority of the second season, which introduces a love triangle for Simon. To be perfectly honest, love triangles are one of my least favorite tropes: They are so easily predictable, and it’s hard to care about a character that serves only to stand in the way of two others who clearly love each other. However, if there’s one thing in this world that I can never get enough of, it’s angst, and this love triangle definitely capitalized on that. I did want to see Wille in a little bit of pain over losing Simon — I wanted to see him recognize how special Simon was, fall even deeper into love with him and hopefully find the courage to stick up to the royal court because of his emotions. If a love triangle was needed to cause Wille to be so distraught and feel all that angst, then maybe the trope isn’t so bad after all. Using a love triangle to not only introduce a new potential love interest but to also separate Wille and Simon for so much of the season caused audience members to long even more intensely for them to be together, and it made any shared moments they had that much more significant. It was really impressive that the show was so engaging to watch even without dedicating much time to the main couple. “Young Royals” developed strong supporting characters and relationships that it could rely on to remain entertaining, something many other shows fail to do.

Overall, “Young Royals” season two delivered on everything you would want to see in a teen drama, without being too over-the-top dramatic or cliché. From complex characters to compelling relationships, “Young Royals” offers a refreshing and realistic look at young love, showcasing a perfect combination of love, angst, pain and hope that has been missing from television screens for far too long.

Daily Arts Writer Jenna Jaehnig can be reached at