Britain’s teen dramedy series Skins has been, without a doubt, my most unabashed guilty pleasure in all of television for the past couple of years.
The series follows a group of university-bound students in Bristol as they navigate what probably is familiar teen drama territory. But the difference between Skins and every other show (like some set in Orange County, California, for instance) is that Skins clearly has its IDGAF hat on in response to political correctness. There is a considerable amount of T&A. There is a considerable amount of drug use. And the actors playing the characters are considerably more close to the 18-20 age range than, say, the near-30-year-old actors who portrayed life in the Orange County.
It’s also not written by old crusty studio types, but rather young adults who actually know their shit, which shows in the consistently brilliant soundtrack selection (though I guess O.C. had that down, too.)
Still, the British series has remained largely unnoticed in the U.S. Until MTV decided it could make a shit ton of money re-packaging it like NBC did The Office and throwing in a more American cast (and setting, of course.)
According to AOL TV Squad, Skins creator Bryan Elsley has signed on with MTV to develop an American version of the series. The only forseeable problem is whether or not MTV will actually grant Elsley full creative freedom. To quote TV squad:
Since this is the U.S., though, if there’s as much sex and drugs as in the U.K. version, I expect a public outcry, as well. Especially if the cast is made up of true teens. It’ll be interesting to see if Elsley can push as aggressively for the seedier sides of young life at MTV as he’s been able to achieve in the U.K.
We’ve actually made some progress on the “getting over ourselves” front in regards to cable television lately. South Park has been continuously pushing the envelope since its inception, and FX has really come alone lately with series like The Shield and Nip/Tuck which have really pushed late night cable to the fringe of acceptable content. It’s generally acceptable to swear and show graphic violence now.
But there’s still that whole issue of sex. Which Skins has a lot of. Like, a whole lot. Full frontal, in some cases.
I just get the feeling that MTV is going to limit Elsley on what he can show as far as sexual content, and it’s really going to shackle him down (no bondage pun intended) on what he can do in regards to the American series. So ideally, everyone would watch the British series and see the difference, but that’s probably not going to happen and our society’s own self-righteousness is most likely going to render the American version of Skins into ‘disposable teen drama’ territory. It’s a shame, because Elsley was really able to create something special in Britain, too.
Or maybe MTV will surprise me. I don’t know. I’m just glad it might introduce some people to the original series in the first place. Not saying it was the best show ever, or anything. It was certainly cliched in some parts, and the second generation of characters has been mostly awful so far. But the first two seasons of Skins were about as addictive as television gets, and I know there were a couple Tuesdays or Wednesdays during the middle of a school week where I easily went through three or four episodes a night. The original cast was excellent in their roles and you really grew to appreciate both their characters and story arcs.
No clue when the American version is scheduled to air, as Elsley hasn’t even selected a cast or scripted the storylines yet. But in the mean time, check out the British version. Through any means necessary!
Legally, of course.