According to preliminary reports the MTV’s US version of the UK teen drama Skins is just as raunchy, debauched, and gritty as the original.
Unlike other teen dramas that gloss over issues like drugs, sex, mental illness, and the complicated ties of human relationships with superficial representations, Skins succeeds in presenting these issues with a irreverent rawness that rings more true.
Skins (which is slang for rolling papers in the UK) is partly about the guilty-fun shock value of watching young people overindulge in pleasures of the chemical and sexual variety. But when the party’s over, instead of finding nothing but a nihilistic numbing emptiness, there is a warm glow of beauty and meaning as (at least the UK) series explores the rich depth of love and friendship with the same brave honestly as it explores excess and debauchery.
Of course, the Parents Television Council (PTC) has already labeled the show as the most “dangerous show for children that we have ever seen,” but they are missing the point. Sure it depicts some very real party situations that parents would rather pretend don’t happen. But they do, and it would be disingenuous for our entertainment and art to shy away from attempting to accurately portray these very real situation teenagers find themselves in. If done right, this type of entertainment can make teenagers feel less alone (as they are prone to feel,) and more open to start conversations and/or contemplate their behavior.
Some US Skins cast members have come to the defense of their provocative show with a TV Squad interview.
Rachel Thevenard (who plays queen bee Michelle) pointed out “It’s a show. Your kids might be doing this or they might not. We’re not saying that they should do it.”
Daniel Flaherty, who plays Stanley elaborated “There already are shows like this. Just because they’re not as edgy doesn’t mean this is going to be the most dangerous thing ever. It’s actually good potentially because it’s more real and showing what teenagers actually do… It does show consequences for bad actions as well.”
Camille Cresencia-Mills (who plays Daisy), seemed to really get to the root of the issue: “The reason it’s dangerous and scary for parents is it’s the unknown, and people are scared of things they don’t know. If you go into your daughter’s room and read her diary you’re going to find the exact same thing and it’s just as scary, but sorry we’re, like, showing it on TV. Hopefully the parents can see it and realize that teenagers, yeah they go and party and stuff, but they’re also having issues and they also care about their families, and this might be a way to deal with it for some people.”
Part of what makes the show so authentic is the use of more than 30 real teenagers to help supply dialogue and storylines, a method creator and producer Bryan Elsley uses both on the UK and US versions (five years ago he created the show with his then 19-year-old son.)
Skins premieres Monday, January 17 at 10/9c on MTV.