Director: Antonio Lukich, Showrunner: Iryna Nikonchuk, Producer: Anna Tkachenko, Writers: Yevheniya Babenko, Pavlo Ostrikov, Copyright holders: 1+1 Media, Country: Ukraine, Language: Ukrainian, 12×25‘, 2020, Rights: Italy, Spain, Japan and South Korea + remake
SEX, INSTA AND EXAMS have been called the Ukrainian answer to “Euphoria”. A teen dramedy dealing openly with issues that all teens go through like self-identification, sex education, bullying, as well as preparation for exams and complicated relationships.
Set in Vinnytsia secondary school. Eleventh graders are preparing for their final exams, making friends, falling in love, competing and quarrelling.
In the centre of the plot of the dramedy is the story of Sasha, the most popular girl at school, whose candid photos and fantasies are leaked to the entire school, due to the plotting of Eve, an opponent for the elections and Sasha’s childhood nemesis. Sahsa’s reputation is in tatters and she is slut-shamed. In addition to preparing for the upcoming external examination, Sasha is now stressing about what others think of her. The scandal surrounding the school’s most popular girl affects other students as well. Surprises await everyone: both Sasha’s friends and enemies.
“The authors of the series do not deceive, and when asked to list landmark projects, they honestly voice them. “I’ve rewatched all the teenage TV shows over the past 15-20 years. Key references were Company Pictures’ Skins, of course, HBO’s Euphoria and Netflix’s Sex Education, as well as Michal Marchak’s All Sleepless Nights and Richard Ayoade’s Submarine. And I’ve always been impressed by Wes Anderson’s young characters,” says Iryna Nikonchuk, showrunner of the series. It also brings to mind the classics of teenage literature: Paul Zindel’s “My Darling, My Hamburger” and S.E. Hinton’s “That Was Then, This Is Now” about drug abuse. And, of course, “Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier is perhaps the first novel that reveals to teenagers the sad truth that not all stories end with a happy ending. We do not hide and are even proud of the projects we were inspired by,” says general producer Anna Tkachenko. – But the main thing in “Sex, Insta and ZNO” is that we tell real stories of Ukrainian teenagers. The ones they themselves shared with us in focus groups.” Iryna Nikonchuk adds: “Somewhere in the third hour of the interview, the interviewees opened up completely and told stories that sometimes just shocked me.”