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Skins and Burn Notice, But No Olympics

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Okay, enough with barely pubescent girls describing the pinnacle of their careers and lives and how they've always known this was for them and this is the greatest moment in their whole entire lives. Enough of the incredible phenom (and I do mean that sincerely, he's ridiculously impressive and unquestionably deserving of all the acclaim) who is built strictly from muscles and gills. Enough of that ridiculous NBC "bug" that informs me that something that happened three hours ago is "live" simply because it's the first time it's been viewable on the west coast (thank goodness for my HAVA, which sits in New York and confirms the lie). What I want to talk about today is something totally and completely different. What I want to talk about it is… oh heck, does it even matter?

Seriously, the ratings that the Olympics have put up are fantastic, and apparently people are watching stuff on TV and then watching it again on their mobile phones or over the Internet. I think that's weird, but apparently you are doing it. I'm assuming that you're watching it "live" and then going to a bar and showing your friends just how great Phelps is.

Thus, I pretty much assume that I could say anything I wanted about any television show that aired last night and if it wasn't the Olympics I was discussing, you might simply accept anything I said. I could talk about how last night on Burn Notice, Michael Westen ended up in bad with Sam on his way to deciding that his life was better now that he was no longer a cover agent and how he told Tricia Helfer to take a hike. None of that happened, but you don't know, you were watching Phelps break another record.

Listen, I'm going to tell you a dirty little secret… I was watching Phelps break another record too. I wasn't watching it live — NBC promised it was but they were lying — I was however certainly watching it as it was being fed to the West Coast. The genius thing of it all was that I didn't have to delay my watching of Burn Notice. You see, apparently tons of cable networks only send out an East Coast high definition feed, thus, someone in New York watching Burn Notice in HD sees it at 10pm EDT, and it gets fed to the West Coast and into my TiVo at the exact same time. Awesome. Just awesome.

But, of course, that was not enough to fill my evening last night, so I also watched three episodes of the new BBC America series Skins. Billed as "a coming of age story for 2008," the dramedy focuses on a group of teens, with each episode focusing on a different member of the group.

Skins unquestionably falls into the category of one of those shows which "pull no punches." It focuses on teenage sex, drinking, drugs, partying, dysfunctions, and disorders. Every member of the group seems to have huge problems, some of which get dealt with better than others.

The show manages to be both funny and sad, but it also makes me sincerely hope that its depiction of teenage life these days is horrifically unrealistic. Teens do have problems, and some of the problems are incredibly serious, but here it seems as though everyone's problem is enormous. Rather than Skins simply not pulling punches here, I think that it has weighted its gloves in order to get a little extra oomph out of those punches.

The extremeness of the series leaves me a little up in the air as to how I feel about it. It is at times fun to watch, but at others you simply want to wring each and every teens' neck.

Skins starts this Sunday (August 17) at 10pm on BBC America.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
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