Skins

“She fucked you up good, didn’t she? Nobody hits me over the head with a rock. Loser.” — Emily

A lot of the storylines in Skins are the sort of storylines you might find in any soap, but in Skins there’s usually a scene in which someone mistakenly takes a massive amount of drugs. Rest assured, as soon as someone starts cooking anything in an episode of Skins, someone else will pull out a huge bag of MDMA and pour it into the mixture. I for one would like to see this approach to scripting used in other shows, like 24 or The Wire perhaps.

It’s quite easy to poke fun, but the drama in Skins is actually quite superb; head and shoulders above most stuff on British television. Honestly, I absolutely love watching the show and never shy away from telling people how great it is. However, I am sometimes inclined to call it a guilty pleasure, which is a shame. The scripting is so good and it’s such an enjoyable show, so why should it be a guilty pleasure? Why should I feel any need to justify watching it? It’s because, usually, when I mention watching the show, I get a surprised response. The general consensus seems to be Skins is a television show for kids and it’s precisely this which causes me to be on the defensive.

I have to concede, sites like MySpace and Bebo are no doubt plastered with promotional pictures, video clips and comments about the show. I can’t even begin to argue the show doesn’t appeal to teenagers, but I think it’s good enough in it’s own right to be recognised as such and appreciated by people over the eighteen.

It’s hard to keep the acting of a high standard in a show with so many young, inexperienced actors, but the cast of Skins does a pretty good job usually. The kids are quite rightly the stars of the show, but there’s a steady conveyer belt of established British acting and comedy talent lending support in the parent and teacher roles.

The show’s outrageousness is a great big in-joke, the joke being that as soon as you let yourself be outraged you’ve shown yourself up as out of touch. It reminds me of Bill Grundy’s infamous interview with the Sex Pistols, during which he managed to demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of youth in general and the punk movement in particular.

The action in Skins is an exaggerated version of teenage life, but at its core it feels quite real to me. I know as soon as I begin to analyse it I’ll sound past it, that you don’t need to analyse it if you’re a teenager because it will appeal on a very basic level. For me, though, the appeal is more nostalgic, because I think Skins captures the arrogant belief of each generation that it’s tapped into something superior to anything which came before. Discovering sex, drugs and nu rave is an exhilerating time and I remember it fondly (okay, not the nu rave bit, but you catch my drift). See, I told you it would make me sound past it. It could be worse, though, because at least I’m not so past it I’ve forgotten what it was like.

I leave you with the brilliant trailer for the brilliant third season, now almost finished (embedding is sadly disabled, but you can click on the video to take you to the trailer on YouTube). Channel 4 wisely fucked the original cast off to the world of adulthood and kept the casting fresh.

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