Tag Archives: Skins

Skins: MTV Americanizes Teen Debauchery

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. Continue reading

Can MTV Translate ‘Skins’?

by Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, originally published at Televisual

Note: The following post is filled with enough spoils to excite even the most conservative of pirates.

Three years after the British and a few hip Americans, I have finally started watching E4’s Skins, the salacious drama about naughty teenagers in Bristol, England. MTV is bringing Skins to the U.S., following a five-decade old tradition of importing British TV. No release date is set, but we’re already getting some hints as to what changes are in store.

The perennial problem with U.S. television importing foreign programs has been one of watering down. Will Skins suffer the same fate? With Ugly Betty, for instance, broadcast network ABC could not quite retain the pace and bite of the original. Some fans of the British Office claim the original was better, a debate I sadly cannot engage. U.S. television is a rough place for European shows, with our stricter obscenity laws and high stakes, competitive market. The best hope for a racy series, like Secret Diary of a Call Girl, is to land on pay-cable, where almost anything goes. But even Queer as Folk, imported from the UK’s publicly owned Channel 4 to US subscription network Showtime, lost a bit of its edgier fare (the UK series has a scene between Stuart (US Brian) and 15 year-old Nathan (US Justin) far more provocative and sadomasochistic than anything the US version ever attempted). Continue reading