International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: TV
SKINS- Season Two
Producer Brian Elsey
Channel 4 - UK
Ruby C Harrison
I should be the first to say it. Put it out there and stop waiting
for one more episode like an abandoned first date still filled with
a puny and unfounded bit of hope that things will go well. So here
we go; the new skins is utter crap. Everything about it. And after
watching the early episodes holding off from judgement I can wait
For starters, I
can not quite believe that of the thousands of young hopefuls who auditioned
for the new roles, the kids I see monotonously mouthing their lines
were the best of the lot.
the feeling producer Brian Elsley and son Jamie Brittan who openly admitted
that scrapping the whole cast was risky, are now dressing these teenagers
up all pretty like a butcher might, with a piece of meat thats
just not as fresh as yesterday. Even the miserable cast know its
true poor sods.
Mind you, they probably had to get rid of the first cast, given that
in the second series the individual characters had got so fucked up
and crazy there wasnt really any more they could do except perhaps
follow Gemma and Tars route and do some heroin.
Effie, Tonys rebel without a cause sister, has thankfully been
instated as the main character providing a vital link to the previous
series and also lending an itsy bit of much needed depth to the programs
premise. A bizarre and danger loving sex machine, Effie is, not to put
too fine a point on it, a complete weirdo. Secretly however, after the
first shameful episodes, Ive realised Effie is just not as interesting
as she tries to be.
Pandora, Effies best friend, is perhaps the only other mildly interesting
character; an eclectic mix of goofed up naivety and vigour, proclaiming
everything remotely good to be wizard! with wide eyed stupidity
and awe. Yet there is defiantly more than meets the eye.
The other characters range between mind numbingly dull, or utterly vile
examples of the human race. Take Cook for example, with whom Effie sleeps
with in the first episode. On a nurses examining couch. Classy
girl. Cook is a bizarre hash of the previous series characters Chris
and Tony. The self proclaimed dare-devil of the group, the little shite
is brash and unamusing, with an addicts voracious appetite for
anything sordid, illegal, or penis related. Horribly unappealing but
I guess Effie must find the bug-eyed-from-coke-inebriate look appealing.
Cooks best friend, who is so inconsequential Ive forgotten his
name, appears to hate his guts with a passion. Not that you can blame
him for that of course. I can only guess that whats his names
function is to fill in the Maxie characters shoes; sexy, effeminate
and brooding. Hot stuff. Unfortunately, he fails miserably, plodding
along beside Cook like a wilted flower. Id say the most interesting
thing about the insipid boy is guessing what strange tank top hes
gone for that episode to showcase those protein shake arm muscles.
As they fart around on set demonstrating perfectly their utter love
for themselves and their new status as actors, any
respect I may have had for the producers daring to do something different
has been ejected with an almost alarming force from my body. If you
are having difficulty imagining this sudden loss of respect, picture
a teenager projectile vomiting after eight shots of flaming sambuca
and youve hit the nail on the head.
In trying to represent the spectrum of teenage life, this new series
pigeon holes and stereotypes every teenager, where each of the characters
is the extreme hyperbole of anyone I ever knew at secondary school.
Throughout the first series, neurotic parents across England went into
cardiac arrest watching Skins, terrified their own little Lucinda was
spending her Girly sleepovers partaking heavily in mass
orgies, spliff smoking and necking two litre plastic bottles of scrumpy
This series, its reversed. If their lives are the true, gritty
representation theyre supposed to be, I clearly didnt live
up my anarchistic adolescence enough. I thought I was rebellious! But
watching Skins now makes me feel like the geeky kid staying in to do
chemistry experiments at the weekend.
The first series perfectly showed the drama, dangers, joys and general
hilariousnesss that is teenage life. There were moments of pure comedy
genius; Anwars uncle djing at his eighteenth birthday for example,
or Tony driving his dad, still played spectacularly by Harry Enfield,
completely round the bend. Or, my favourite, Sids T-shirt that
sang when you pressed a button.
The only moment Ive had a hearty laugh this series was when Thomas,
an African immigrant who speaks perfectly enunciated yet archaic English
comes out with an absolute cracker. Threatened by a dangerously pikey
gangster, Thomas succinctly tells the gang leader, Its possible
that your father was a homosexual donkey. Poor quality of Skins
aside, thats the funniest insult Ive heard in a long time.
In the first series there was poignancy too in Cassies triumph
over her eating disorder, and in Tony and Michelles struggle through
their first real relationship.
Now, I struggle to find anything within the cast to connect with. At
the very strong risk of sounding like a grandma, life as a sixteen year
old is just not as rock and roll as Skins is making out. And it doesnt
have to be utterly mental to be realistic. It also doesnt have
to be that shallow. But it is, and its a shame as theres
so much potential. Teenage TV programs should make its watchers proud
to be the high, hormonal adolescents they are. Instead, it made me feel
lke Id grown old overnight. The last thing teenagers need is their
life reduced to a poor quality pantomime.
Eventually, the idea of damning it with faint praise and insult began
to appeal more than my original one of ripping the program to shreds
with delectable, finger licking distain. In a way, its more insulting.
Skins is as desperate to shock its watchers as the whiny teenagers it
represents. Not that the morons in charge will have the intelligence
to appreciate that. Hey, maybe theyll even think this is a good
review compared to the ones they will surely get. But I digress. The
sad fact is that its ridiculous portrayal of young people is frankly
insulting to their intelligence and so unbelievable it could never be
respected by its discerning, judgemental viewers.
Now, after watching another episode of cringingly bad real teenage
life scenarios such as Pandora scoffing about ten grams
of coke it suddenly clicked. Maybe in that graduation between
nineteen and twenty I had lost my teenage cool overnight. Terrified
that next Id finding grey hairs and reluctant to admit this even
to myself, I asked my adolescent brother what he thought of the new
series. Skins can suck my balls, he announced, with the
kind of deadpan distain the cast could only dream of emulating. Crude
perhaps, but in the teenage honed skill of condensing whole theories
into four words or less, Id say he was spot on. So there Skins;
you can suck my (metaphorical) balls and all.
Once again, as the final credits rolled, I was left with the feeling
of disappointment you get upon showing up all dressed up to a party
only to find the bloke you wanted to get with hasnt shown up or
is copping off with your best mate. Its a shitty feeling, and
defiantly not one that a BAFTA nominated program should engender.
Straight after however, the inbetweeners came on. Firstly, may
it be said that the teenagers who populate Skins live a life the inbetweeners
wouldnt even dare to even have wet dreams about. If you mentioned
MDMA theyd likely think you were discussing chemistry coursework.
But the inbetweeners can safe give Skins the two fingered salute, because
the program kicks its ass. It is funny. So, so funny it woke me from
the drug induced coma Skins had lured me into and made me laugh out
© Ruby Ceriden Harrison Feb 19th 2009
Ruby is in the last
stretch of her degree in Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth.
Watch Skins for yourself here
Thongs and full-frontal snogging
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