Television Review – Skins

I have been absent from the MacGuffin site for quite a while now.  Part of this was due to starting school and having more of a busy life lately.  However, part of it was also due to the fact that I have been watching fewer movies and more TV shows lately.  I have fallen in love with the idea of the television show.  It allows you so much more time to get to know the characters and experience their lives.  With that in mind, I plan to write more reviews than I have been in the past, but they will primarily be television reviews, starting below with Skins.

Skins is a British teen drama following students going through college (which is British slang, appearing to be 11th and 12th grade).  It is going in to its fifth season this year and continuing its unique trend of cast replacement.  Every two seasons (or series, as they say in England) the teenage cast is replaced by another, younger cast about to start going through college and experiencing the same things they just went through.  The first two seasons follow nine students as they experience sex, drugs, and teenage life.  One of the best things about this show is how real it is.  The students are put through almost ridiculous trials and tribulations as they attempt to survive their lives.

The thing that makes this different from Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, or any of those typical teen shows is the explicitness.  There is nudity, drug use, curse words, you name it.  These teenagers are acting like real teenagers.  We do not just see their sappy little romances and their time at school.  We see them smoking crack, having sex, popping pills.  We see them doing real things.  The best way that I can describe it is Kids meets Degrassi.  It takes all of the good elements of the teen drama and adds in the things that American television is too scared to show you.

The wonderful thing about the cast is that they are all real teenagers.  So many times in American TV shows, we have 25 year olds pretending that they are still 17.  Every cast member in Skins is an actual teenager and I feel this helps them portray the character that much more.  This show has launched the careers of some young actors including Nicholas Hoult (of A Single Man and the upcoming X-men: First Class) and Dev Patel (of Slumdog Millionaire and The Last Airbender).  Too many times I hear that it is impossible to create a great piece of film with primarily child actors.  This show turns that stereotype on its head.  I cannot recommend it enough.

The pilot episode follows Tony Stonem (played by Nicholas Hoult), a young and dashing Bristol local, who is on a mission to get his best friend, Sid, a shy and nerdy fellow, laid before his birthday.  What follows is a hilarious and wonderful adventure wherein you meet the rest of the cast, Chris, a pill popping daredevil, Anwar, a young Muslim boy, Jal, a star musician, Michelle, a fashion-obsessed beauty queen, Maxxie, a gay boy seeking acceptance, Cassie, an anorexic loner, and Effy, Tony’s younger, drug-addicted sister.  The first two series follow these characters as they come in to their own and eventually are forced into the real world and off on their own separate paths.

Final Grade: A

On a side note, after seeing its popularity in Britain, MTV purchased the rights to create an American version, which should be premiering this spring season.  I think we all have similar views on remakes so I won’t get too far in to this.  Needless to say, I don’t see anything good coming out of this, primarily because this show will not be as explicit as it needs to be due to its airing on MTV.  I suppose time will tell how much they decimate this wonderful series.