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Skins tries to get away without showing any skin

February 4, 2011

Sometimes I watch TV shows and I just wonder why they’re made. This happens mostly when I see “Jersey Shore,” but recently, another MTV show has received some of that attention: “Skins.”

“Skins,” an American remake of the British show of the same name, chronicles the lives of a group of American teenagers and sex, drugs, rock-’n’-roll and, if there’s a little bit of time left, typical teenage problems. The cast of eight features James Neman as Tony Snyder, a subtlety manipulate teen who is dating Michelle Richardson (Ravel Thevenard) much to the displeasure of his best friend Stanley Lucerne (Daniel Flaherty) who has a crush on Michelle.

Meanwhile, the circle of friends also includes party animal Chris Collins (Jesse Carere) and Daisy Valero (Camille Cresencia-Mills) who is always looking out for her friends. Cadie Campbell (Britne Oldford) is a girl who’s had psychological issues before the show star and was vetted to help Stanley lose his virginity. Tea Marvelli (Sofia Black D’elia) is a lesbian cheerleader and Abbud Siddiqui (Ron Mustafaa) is a Muslim teen who’s often found drinking or doing something else looked down upon by his religion.

The problem with “Skins” is not that it is poorly written, rather that it has not been rewritten for an American audience or American television. Of the three episodes that have aired, two of them, the pilot “Tony” and the third episode “Chris” use the exact same scripts as their British counterparts. Only the second episode, “Tea,” has any substantial amount of original writing in it and even then it is only because the character of Tea replaces her British equivalent Maxxie Oliver, a fashionable and trendy gay teen who enjoys dancing, but is still considered “one of the guys.”

Despite this difference, Tea’s episode still manages to reuse some of the storylines from the British show. The gang’s drug dealer, Mad Mao Le Dong, is taken off in this episode and beat by mafia members instead of gangsters and romantic tension develops between Tony and Tea after a romantic, unbeknownst to Michelle. This differs that in the British series in which Tony experiments with Maxxie later in the series with Michelle accidentally watching. Odds are, like in the British show, the event will lead to tension between Tony and Michelle.

As a result of being a blatant rip-off of the British series, established “Skins” fans are unlikely to enjoy the show and for good reason. Furthermore, it divides the show from an American audience. In the United Kingdom, the legal drinking age is 18, allowing high school teens easier access to alcohol but with the higher drinking age in the United States, it is a little unbelievable for the American show’s gang to have as much alcohol as they consume and to have the venues for underagers to party at, such as the lesbian club in “Tea’s” episode.

Meanwhile, keeping in spirit with the British show, the writers and producers try to push the envelope and make the show as risqué as allowed by the FCC. Rather than enhancing the show, it takes away from it with bleeps over swear words. Likewise, while shows in Britain are allowed to show some nudity when they are aired late at night, the American version had to be filmed in a way not to expose anyone. Despite this, the cinematography of the American series successfully makes up for FCC regulations. If the writing of the dialogue could match so bleeps do not interrupt the show, “Skins” might actually be a little believable as a story.

But by far, the best moments in the series are not in the party or drama-filled scenes but when the entire gang is there, hanging around and joking, like at the end of “Chris’s” episode. With the drama carbon copied from the British series and the censorship of the show, these scenes are the only part of the series which seems natural. If the energy and spirit in these scenes could be spread out throughout the remaining episodes, the show would instantly and significantly improve.

However, if the creators are just going to refilm the British show, “Skins” really isn’t worth your Monday night. Instead, stream the original British show on Netflix. After all, at this rate, the American version is just going to be a cheap, censored knockoff of its British cousin. Why hang around and wait for the American show to finish if the British one is right there waiting to be watched?

BY ANDREW DREA
News Editor

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