by Latoya Peterson
If you’ve already seen the original British version of the teen drama Skins, you can comfortably skip the American one. Despite placing the reboot in an unnamed city decimated by the post-industrial slump (this was originally Baltimore, but they scrapped the idea) and earning the rare chance to discuss American class and race politics, last night’s premiere was just a toothless re-enactment of the original.
As full disclosure, I had never seen Skins before last night’s premiere, and wasn’t familiar with the story line. So, as I watched, I tried to figure out where in iconic American teen programing this would fit. There isn’t a precedent for Skins, really – My So Called Life probably comes the closest, as the first teen drama that didn’t present neatly packaged solutions to common teen problems. But Angela Chase was big on thought, nor action – and the kids from Skins are too busy living their lives to be overly self-reflective.
The American version of Skins revolves around Tony and his crew. Tony is the central character, though Skins loosely follows the story lines of one teen per episode. MTV’s summary explains:
We’ll meet TONY; good looking, witty, manipulative – he wants everything, and usually gets it. Then there’s his girlfriend MICHELLE; gorgeous and clever, just not clever enough to realize Tony may not be the right one for her. And maybe the right one is actually Tony’s best friend, STANLEY. He’s everything Tony isn’t, and that might end up being a good thing. Of course, Stanley is stuck in a pretend relationship with CADIE, possibly the most dysfunctional girl ever to attend a high school… or maybe that’s all just another thing she’s faking. You’ll love CHRIS because, well, everyone does. No drug is too obscure for him to try, and no sexual mountain too high for him to climb. Complicating everyone’s life is the infamous TEA. She likes girls. And girls like her. What more is there to figure out… right? And let’s not forget ABBUD, the not so devout Moslem and DAISY, the responsible one of the group who is just itching to break some rules of her own.
Be it sex, drugs, the breadth of friendships or the depth of heartbreaks, Skins is an emotional mosh-pit that slams through the insanity of teenage years. They’ll crush hearts and burn brain cells, while fearlessly confronting every obstacle head on…or slightly off.
But the interesting bit is how the summary illuminates exactly what is missing. Read the Post Skins: MTV Americanizes Teen Debauchery