UKRAINIAN TELEVISION

BBC: Ukraine's teen bullying drama that shattered taboos and stirred a nation

Zhanna Bezpiatchuk
Sunday, 09 February 2020 23:02

It has become a TV hit, a drama that has shattered taboos and given Ukraine's teenagers the courage to open up about their lives.

Early Swallows tells stories about teenagers struggling with bullying and online harassment; they question their sexual identity and even consider taking their own lives. Issues like these are rarely dealt with in Ukraine in public.

Six million viewers watch the show on TV and millions more have seen it online. A key part of the programme is a non-governmental mental health helpline detailed at the end of every episode. Within the first month of the drama going out, the number of calls to the helpline went up by 600%.

The series gave 16-year old Maxim from western Ukraine the encouragement he needed to come out as gay. "First I talked to my father, then I told others. I don't care if anyone doesn't like my lifestyle," he told the BBC. "Luckily, people around me didn't really have a problem."

Maxim says he knows many others who came out as a result of the TV series.

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