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TV Review: Skins (US)

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After Shameless and Being Human, I am getting a little tired of typing ‘based on the British show of the same name’, but here we go again. Except, this one is MTV’s Skins. Please keep in mind, I haven’t seen the British version. Everything I say this review applies ONLY to the American version of Skins. And what I’d like to say is, the show is terrible.

 

 

Where to begin? First of all, the only audience I see for this series is the legions of horned up boys that flock to whatever the current equivalent of American Pie is. Look at the poster above, and you’ll see what I mean. I will be the first to admit, I was in this demographic ten years ago. Ok, seven years ago. But now it takes a little more than the promise of a bit of girly skin to get me to spend me valuable time. And being that this series airs on basic cable, all you’re going to get is a glimpse of that skin, not any of the really naughty bits.

The characters are incredibly poorly executed. The lead, at least in the first episode, titled “Tony”, is Tony (James Newman). He is supposed to be the ultra-cool kid that everyone loves, who can score all the girls, and gets whatever he wants because of his charm and good looks. I got a kick out of his friends making fun of him behind his back in one scene, because I don’t see how anyone could possibly like Tony. He isn’t that good looking. He’s arrogant. He’s a horrible friend. He takes advantage of people in obvious ways. There is nothing likable about him at all. Yet, there are plenty of ‘Tony’s out there that somehow pull this off, at least while still in high school.

Similarly, I found most of the characters one note. Stanley (Daniel Flaherty) is the ugly dork who can’t get laid, though he did show a slight hint of personality and kindness late in the episode. Cadie (Britne Oldford) is the pill-popping crazy one. Abbud (Ron Mustafaa) is little more than a racist stereotype. Tony’s friends at the all-girl schools were two-dimensional preppie types. And yes, some teen guys are obsessed with girls and drugs. But most of them don’t flaunt it as badly as the ‘characters’, using the term loosely, as caricatures would be more accurate, in Skins.


The only small saving grace was Michelle, also known to Tony as Nips (Rachel Thevenard). Yes, her nickname is sexist and vulgar. No wonder she doesn’t like it. She is the sole character that showed slight depth, and felt marginally real. She had a good sense of humor, was kind, enjoyed her life, liked who she was, and knew where she stood. So why is she sleeping with a creep like Tony?

I have considered that perhaps I’m just not the target audience for this series. I did manage to sit through the whole hour, so it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever watched. But even teenagers deserve better dramas than this stuff. If anything, this just gives them an unrealistic worldview of limited, if any, consequences for dumb actions.

If you’d like to make your own judgments, Skins airs Monday nights at 10 p.m.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • kasbolding

    This show just proves what our american teenagers have become they are alcoholic, pill popping, sex driven maniacs honestly if I ever thought about doing anything like that my parents would have beat my butt, I mean don’t get me wrong but I drink alcohol occationally but I don’t go get my ass wasted just because I feel like it. All I have to say is america really are you kidding me? I mean let the UK and Brits do what they want why bring it here why corrupt our teens with it and you wonder why so many teens are dying and don’t forget getting pregnant…most parents tell their kids ‘dont forget to protect yourself here’s a condom or here’s birth control’ Really? So to all those parents out there if you giving your kids birth control just to keep them from getting pregnant or getting somebody pregnant you need therapy…who would want their kid having a kid at 13 or 15… NOBODY! Just dicipline them tell them the importance of having sex its because you love someone not because you wanna ‘bang’ someone. As for this show I laughed when it started because the first thing they said was ‘this show is intended for mature audiences’ are you kidding me? This show was put on MTV every teenager I have ever known watches late night MTV programing their gonna watch this show and think ‘hey this is cool I’m gonna go take some pills and see how long it takes for me to pass out’ NO! This show is wrong on so many levels! I can’t believe that the UK is even playing it…it may be totally different than the one we are viewing but it seems like somebody needs to start coming up with better night time dramas. That’s gonna have to be the end for me I could go further but I think enough is said.
    Kristin SC

  • Scarred reality

    Yes, i agree with the previous comment. Now if you don’t mind my i’m going to go put my head back under the sand

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jeromewetzeltv/ Jerome Wetzel

    LOL, I agree with the comments about the culture, but I don’t blame this show. MTV is just giving people what they want. It’s the fact that this is what they want that’s the problem.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Yes, that’s right; the vast majority of US teenagers are “alcoholic, pill popping, sex driven maniacs” and your nation is surely doomed!

    Haven’t seen the MTV Skins yet, but in terms of the original English show, the first series was great, the second series got off to a great start but then kind of lost its plot and the third series was a real mixed bag of brilliance and bullshit – rather like teenagers themselves.

    The next generation series is just about to launch over here and I hope it gets back to the original standard.

  • Tom

    From how you’re describing US teenagers I’m glad I live in Britain! Can I second the reviewers thoughts that this show was just unbelieveble. And not in a good way. If you want to watch ‘Skins’ as it should be, do watch the UK version – cutting edge, risque and very true to how life CAN be, not always is…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    the vast majority of US teenagers are “alcoholic, pill popping, sex driven maniacs”

    Yes, and the proof of this is that there is a television drama show called Skins which depicts it.

    By the same logic, Hawaii Five-O proves that all American adults are gun-toting, bad-ass cops and criminals.

    A quick refresher, Kas:

    Reality.

    Fiction.

  • Jessica

    I just watched US Skins and I totally hated it, the acting was bad and the characters were all so two dimensional. I couldn’t believe the swearing was censored, I mean if you’re gonna bleep it don’t put it in. Skins is good in the UK because its raw, edgy, its risque it pushes limits its very daring, and that’s why the UK version is so successful. The US version was very tame and just wasn’t Skins. To the people who have commented saying they think UK teens are corrupt, I just have to say I’m British and we are absolutely not all like the characters in the original Skins, we are not “corrupt”. I think we’re just more open to accepting that the stuff in the show does go on and we are more vulgar when making tv shows, we don’t mind swearing and we don’t mind if there’s nudity in a tv show but it doesn’t mean that we’re all druggie slags!

  • kasbolding

    Let me get something straight when I said ‘let the UK and Brits do what they want why bring it here and corrupt our teens’ it may have sounded like I was implying that UK teens are ‘corrupt’ that was not my intention I have never know a british person but I do know that they are very ballsy (if anyone knows what I mean) I like that they can put stuff like that in their movies and telivision programming and not look up to it as something that would be ‘cool’ or ‘in style’ to do our american pre-teens and teens are watching these movies and tv shows and not to mention our celebrities and looking up to them as role models, whatever happened to dignity and self confidence none of our teens have that in america (with the exception of a small percentage me included) isn’t it funny that most of these responses have been from people in the UK thanks for making these comments I definately didn’t mean any harm to all the teens in the UK I’ve got to say keep doing what your doing its just the americans can’t keep their act straight they keep ‘trying’ to fix these teen pregnancy problems by providing more and more research on inventing ‘stronger’ or ‘better’ condoms WHAT!? REALLY?! How about QUIT PROMOTING THIS SHIT ON TV! That’s the only way this is gonna stop…america can’t do what they say their gonna do except getting more of our young generation drugged up, pregnant or dead! As for fiction on tv its a reality for our teens here in america they do and say what they hear on television that’s sad to see that my generation is a bunch of alcoholic, pill popping, sex driven maniacs!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jeromewetzeltv/ Jerome Wetzel

    I find all of your comments plenty interesting. Thanks for participating! Interestingly, I titled this article ‘Cover Up, Skins!’, but it appears the title has been changed. I hope I didn’t provide something considered too risque. Otherwise, I may be guilty of the same things I accused this show of doing.

  • Rachel

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. I thought the MTV version was pretty well spot on for the first episode for the British series. It was a throwback to the original version. A “hello to ya, fans.” Everything I’ve read says it will diverge from the original. But that’s beside the point. I absolutely LOVED the British version of the series. Hated the first episode. It’s just not at all representative of the entire series. What this show is best at is creating interesting characters dealing with intense issues and getting a profound emotional response. And with all great characters, the good stuff isn’t on the surface. I would hate for someone to read this review and get the wrong idea about the quality of the show and the characters. I, for one, will be watching Monday nights to give these American writers a chance to show what they’ve got. I hope you do too.

  • Victoria

    Long story short. Skins US has done a play by play of the Skins UK every single thing that happened in the first episode of Skins UK happened in Skins US with shitty acting. All the cast in Skins US are of course attractive people, when in Skins UK though they were good looking they weren’t perfect which is what made the show what it is since anyone who watched it felt like they could relate to them, Skins US? They are all well perfect except ‘Stanly” ofcourse what’s relatable about that? Nothing. And no Skins UK/ Skins US has never just been about pills alcohol and sex though it was a part of it, it was about teenage life REAL teenage life though some of the plots weren’t something a ‘normal’ teenager would go through never the less it was still something any teenager could relate to. All in all Skins US was a terrible idea it’s just replaying the original Skins with bad acting in a new location there is no point in it and any Skins UK fan will not like what they see. I can see this show getting taken off the air in no time.

  • Alyssa

    I love personally love the UK version of Skins not only because it’s a really entertaining well acted out show, but because some of the issues they deal with on the show I’ve dealt with. So it’s really easy to relate to the characters, especially Cassie (those who watch know who I’m talking about). But this remake of the show just isn’t that good. Not only because the majority of the cast isn’t good looking, but because the acting is terrible. It’s almost the quality that would be shown on a after school movie. I can see this show barely lasting a few seasons not because it’s supposedly promoting sex and drugs..because face it, that’s what most teenagers are doing, but because no one’s watching because it’s just not that good of a quality show.

  • babbibelle

    agree w/ alyssa, there just isn’t an original like the UK version

  • Ben

    This review shows how disillusioned the author is about the american teenager today. FIrst of, the personal attacks on how James Newman looks are irrelevant to the show. How you attractive you personally think he is has nothing to do with the show. Further more, the conclusion of how it is unlike teenage life now is completely incorrect. Being a teenager now, this is not so far off from what I see around me. Now, I don’t mean to suggest that, Skins is the perfect representation of how people my age are. For example, people aren’t in the bathroom with a joint or making out in a wide open setting like a cafeteria, but, I don’t believe that is why these details were added. They were added so that Skins is able to make a point and so it can distinguish itself from being a show that has a constant reinforcement of the fact that the teens are sneaking around doing these things, but rather to suggest that if adults would just look at what’s in front of them, that they would see the damage that teens seem to enjoy inflicting upon themselves on a daily or weekly basis. In conclusion, Skins is not a call to action, but rather a dare for adults to lift their eyes from their blackberries and other distractions and pay attention to the harm that American teens are doing to themselves daily.

  • Jaz

    British version was an exaggerated reflection of british culture. ‘American’ version is basically the exact same script with the British lingo changed up a bit. Even the characters are exact replicas of the British version. The only way to have done this well would have been to design new characters suitable to the us. This was actually shot in Toronto, and they are all dressed like they are in California. I just kept thinking how cold they must be the whole way through.

    I’m really disappointed with this and I really hope they don’t make too many more episodes. It’s just painful to watch.

  • els

    The U.S skins is the worst, empty characters, no way the U.S could ‘replicate’ as very much centred around a particular part of the south of England. In which there is a high student population resulting in some fantastic club nights and live music. Know that from my own experience of the fantastic city Bristol in which I have had some very memorable drug enhanced nights :)

    Unless you are a teenager or can relate to this lifestyle then all versions of Skins will be a waste of time to watch and misunderstood, after all it is a teen drama!!

  • http://jeromewetzeltv.blogspot.com Jerome Wetzel

    I appreciate your points. Perhaps I just can’t relate because I was NEVER one of those types of teens. In fact, I always hated those types for giving us a bad name. I never got in real trouble, didn’t drink until I was 19, and have never even wanted to do a drug harder than pot. I worry, though, that glamorizing this behavior in a TV show encourages those teens on the fence to go to the wrong side.

  • Justanotherone

    One thing is certain, replaying the original with a half-hearted american setting won’t yield the show any profit.

    Even though I’m not from the UK, nor ever liked the “party-guys” in any way, I was still intrigued by the characters of Skins on first sight. Tony Stonem is cool, Sid looks like a loser and Cassie needs psychological help.

    Looking at the US cast and acting, Tony Snyder severely lacks the cool, whereas Stanley looks way to stylish and Cadie is only in need for a slap in the face and a cold shower.

    America still needs to learn, that copying something good, won’t necessarily yield any good.

    Trying to copy a series of british style into an american setting is doomed to failure by the same thing as copying American Democracy to Iraq is: cultural identity and difference.

    I really hope the us skins get to find their own identity, with sharp edges and dark corners to be explored, becoming more than a smoothed, lifeless clone of the original. I just don’t believe in it.

  • stepperz

    I am british and loved the English version, it was true to demensions of British life in Bristol or Brighton, the style, the excess, it was brilliantly acted, with one actor even going on to star in the movie slumdog millionaire, it was exsagerated at times for entertainment value, but i personally give teenagers enough credit to see that and not necessarily copy behaurour they see on tv like mindless puppets.. overall the uk version was a great fit.. in the uk. Whats the difference with the US version..?? nothing.. and thats the problem.. from the script to the directing they haven’t changed a thing to adapt it for a US audience, they may as well of just dubbed it. When the office was made into a americqan version ricki gervais took a back seat as he said an American show should be American, made by Americans for Americans, and its a brilliant show, i couldn’t believe the lack of attempt to make it their own here, Shocking.

  • Lola

    I would like to say that people can attack and degrade Skins as much as they want but the truth remains that the series is not non-fiction and no one has ever said otherwise. I just think that no one would watch that depicted a handful of teenagers in basement playing cards or reading their set books… It’s outrageous, dangerous and a little bit unrealistic- but aren’t the majority of shows just that. And people thrive on escapism of the unreal.
    The acting might be cringe-worthy, their character weak and the plot unbearable- but it’s not worth getting your knickers in knot.

  • Lola

    Sorry, meant fiction and not non-fiction:)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jeromewetzeltv/ Jerome Wetzel

    I think the show has improved markedly since I wrote this review. I still maintain the guy playing Tony is terrible, which may have been what made the pilot so unbearable. But most of the cast is decent, and the stories have been better.

  • Ivonne Najarro

    I actually enjoyed Skins, as have many of my friends. We have never watched the British version. And too bad if you were a good kid in high school, but all that did happen, even if you didn’t know it. It did and still does.

  • ksfjdlsfjlsd

    I would just like to say that the only way to ensure that teen pregnancy stops is to educate and promote birth control. any one who thinks abstinence is actually effective is ignorant and ignoring the data. It makes me sick that some politicians on the right (for instance Sarah Palin) want to get rid of planned parenthood and want to promote abstinence when her daughter could have benefited from receiving these services. it truly is a joke. if americans need to do anything..it is the following..stop being so prudish and actually discuss sex with your kids until waiting for it to be too late.

  • Jesssss123

    As a British viewer I have to say that I’m kinda fed up with US producers taking shows that are really popular in the UK and trying to mould them into something suitable for US audiences.

    The whole point in both Skins and Shameless is that they are based on prejudice beliefs and stereotyping in England.

    The UK version of Skins is very popular, and especially with the first series extremely funny. Although parts of the programme show how teenagers maybe viewed in our society, mainly it is exaggerated or shown in some way which is unlikely to happen in normal life.

    As a teenager myself, I have watched all 5 series of Skins so far, and to be totally honest I would never do most of the behaviour shown on the programme, nor would I choose to now I have seen it advertised.

    The American version (at least the first episode) is literally copied and slightly changed to suit an American audience, but the whole thing as a whole just doesn’t work, and they are idiots for trying to make it. They’ve made the British version look cheap where as it is actually clever, witty, and has a very good cast!

    Why try to copy something when it is already at it’s best?

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