Just one more thing the UK does better


By Jade Jones-Hawk

Let me tell you about the most amazing show you may have never heard of. It’s called Skins.

Unlike Secret Life of the American Teenager, Dawson’s Creek, Gossip Girl, or 90210, Skins serves up the kind of drama that keeps you glued in your seat, because the drama is real. The characters and situations they find themselves can  be extreme- but in the most captivating way.

“It’s hella good- it keeps me captivated, it’s stuff you can kinda relate to. It isn’t anything you’ve necessarily experienced, but its stuff you could see yourself experiencing, and it’s not too wild to believe but it’s crazy enough to keep your attention,” said senior Luka Jovanovic.

Skins addresses issues like drug use and abuse, mental and physical health, sex, angry irrational parents, social pressure, the difficulties of identifying sexually, the tensions that erupt between friends that are family- in ways that resonate deeply with the viewer, going far beyond what cheesy, low-budget soap opera-y type teen dramas consistently fail to achieve. Skins is delightful, comedic, ironic-  all until a final point or message is driven home; usually something that wasn’t expected.

“[The characters] all lead really exciting lives. You could see yourself leading those lives,” said sophomore and Tam News editor Wesley Emblidge. “[The show] is good- [the characters are] interesting- [the writers] create compelling plot lines with superb twists.”

“They don’t censor anything- and I think that makes it more entertaining,” said senior Katherine Lundy.

And truly- you fall in love with each and every character. By the season finale, real tears, real pains, real joys and real highs and lows have been experienced.

As sophomore Laney Eddington puts it, Skins has it all. “Skins has the drama of an ABC Family original series, it’s funny like a Comedy Central movie, and it’s got the filming quality of HBO. [Skins] has the Jersey Shore parties, it’s got the fashion of Project Runway that just makes you want to run out and buy all the posh UK clothing you could find-and its got the best sound track.”
If the recommendations of your peers aren’t enough, Skins was ranked 8.8 out of 10 by public opinion on Tv.com, and was given scores no lower than 7 across a mixed survey of 18-45 year olds. The show won the Best Drama prize at the 2008 Rose d’Or ceremony, and also won the Best Production Design (Drama) for Amelia Shankland’s work on the “Cassie” episode at the Royal Television Society Awards 2007, in addition to being nominated for Best Photography (Drama).The graphics for Skins won a BAFTA for Best Title Sequence at the British Academy Television Craft Awards in May 2008.
Uniquely, Skins changes its cast every two seasons. While those Tam students I interviewed shared my opinion that The First Generation (Tony, Sid, Michelle, Chris, Maxxie, Anwar, Cassie, Jal… and Sketch and Effy) was better then the Second (Emily, Katie, Pandora, Thomas, Naomi, Cook, Freddie, JJ, and Effy), the truth is, Skins is so visually stimulating that there’s no way you can’t watch, despite the feeling of separation anxiety from the first cast.

“Skins is just so intense you can’t look away and every episode leaves you counting the day ‘till you can get you hands on more,” says Eddington. “Skins is a legal crack if you will. Watch responsibly.”

At the present, season one, two and three are all available on Netflix WI online, and seasons one through four can be found online or at select video stores. There is also a US version of Skins due to begin on MTV soon- but to be frank, it looks sub-par. If you want to give Skins a chance- and I thoroughly recommend you do- stick to the British original. You won’t be disappointed. So grab your friends, some popcorn, and sit down and watch the first few episodes. Be forewarned: there are drug references and usage, and mild sex and party scenes- but my mother enjoyed this show and I bet yours could as well.

Written by Jade Jones-Hawk. This article originally appeared in the December 2010 issue.