Let’s be honest. The first episode of Skins U.S. was a fail. And that’s because those of us who watched it were fans of the original U.K. series and expecting something as awesome and groundbreaking as that show. What we got was a rip-off, a sad reproduction, almost shot for shot of episode one of Series one, only less naughty.
On top of that disappointing episode, claims of child pornography from The Parents Television Council caused Skins U.S. to quickly lose sponsors. But MTV stuck by their show, and this was the only reason I kept watching – to stick it to the man. Because The Parents Television Council is a little ridiculous.
The hope was that the show would do something new. It couldn’t be Skins U.K. (especially since Series one and Series two were so fantastic). But it could be it’s own show. I was willing to stand by that.
Skins U.S. has answered my call. Episode two proved to be better and different. And all that followed have been worth watching even if they’re based on episodes from the original show. We’re seven episodes into the ten episode season; Tea, as a replacement for Maxxie, has been very good. Stanley has gone from stoner flunkie to stand-up guy with a mind of his own. Cadie is finding herself and fighting her demons. Michelle is finally seeing the light and kicks ass. Each episode has a different vibe, specific to the character, which they’ve pulled off well. The show has brought teens’ issues to the table. It’s been raw and real. There’s been character development. The techno music is fun.
But it’s not a great show. The acting is a little stilted, the dialogue can seem over the top or unrealistic, the parents are gross and every other episode drags around the twenty-five minute mark.
So why keep watching? It may sound cliche, but I keep watching because Skins has heart.
Lots of critics have only been able to see the bad or the outrageous; they’re stuck on the boozing, pill popping, smoking and sex. But all these things are superflouous. MTV may have marketed the show to be about dirty underage behavior, but it’s about real behavior, finding yourself, bad family lives, sexuality, etc.
And it’s the tears that Tea shed when her grandmother talked about being a lesbian; it’s Stanley’s yelling of “Get her back!” to his dad when his mom walks out; it’s Cadie convincing herself, “See, I’m happy,” when contemplating suicide; it’s Michelle crying on the bus to Boston after finding the truth about Tony that hits you hard. Because we’ve all been teens. We’ve all been there. There’s no faking that.
No, Skins U.S. can never be Skins U.K. I’ve accepted this fact now. Every week, at 10p.m. I turn to MTV for the new episode, ready to view the show as all its own.
It doesn’t have the intrigue of Pretty Little Liars, the sex appeal of Gossip Girl, the otherworldliness of Buffy or the witty pop culture references of The O.C. These kids are average looking, middle class, totally messed-up and completely normal. They are extraordinarily unextraordinary. Just like most kids. And in my book, that makes them all right.
You can watch Skins mondays at 10p.m. on MTV or on MTV.com