Skins? Yawn.

In “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” fashion, Skins creator Bryan Elsley acknowledges that while his “very simple and in fact rather old fashioned” TV series has caused controversy, it’s because “It tries to tell the truth.”

Sure, dude. Whatevs.

In the first few minutes of the pilot, a teen girl slithers home after an all-nighter, barefoot and raccoon-eyed as snow falls, but immediately pops downstairs, fresh-haired and dewy, to breakfast with her clueless parents. A girl chats with a boy about her nipples, via speakerphone, while she wallows in a bubble bath. Another boy answers the phone, is told of a plan to rid him of his virginity, and lifts his sheet to wink conspiratorially at his penis. I think he even offers it a pep talk.

Okay, teenagers of America: if these are your truths, then you’re not scary. You’re SILLY.

In that vein, Elsley’s show is old-fashioned, in the way of Heathers or Porky’s or Clueless or 90210 or, for that matter, Peanuts, basically any show in which the kids are smart and self-possessed and aware and the adults barely rise above caricatures.

To whit:

In Skins, the dad of the teen girl spends his entire screen time yelling incoherently or spouting off about how he wants to “take a dump in [his] own house.” Mom wanders around impotently waving pancakes as her kids exchange smirks.

But it was the teacher who sealed it.

In class, a girl recites while a young teacher sobs loudly at the front of the room, wailing over a broken romance. At the end of the reading another student gently chides the teacher, warning “no more gym teachers for you.” A boy jumps out of his seat and offers to “say he touched me in the shower” to which the teacher replies, “Could you?” After class he cheers her up in the hallway, mostly by answering her cellphone, and then she shoots a longing glance at his ass as he bops away.

The very fact that adults play so large a role in the show speaks volumes. As a parent, I’d rather my daughter think me a buffoon than inconsequential. I think.

So, yeah. When I was a teenager, had someone invited me to write a TV show, I would have written Skins too. My friends and I did fancy ourselves savvy — if we felt awkward at times, it’s only because we were misunderstood by the idiots who got to be in charge simply because they were born sooner. We absolutely felt that adults were not more capable but much less so, and that a fake ID leveled the playing field.

Kids will love this show and adults will probably soon ignore it. It’s hard to imagine that a show with a tone this mocking and a style this precious could really convince teens that they’re the cosmopolitans they want to be or wield influence in the way, say, that Vampire Diaries seems to have them swooning for the undead.

Upcoming episodes promise to push more boundaries, so I may have more to say. But for the time being, color me assuaged.

But, Bryan, you’re still treading on thin ice with your under-18 actors.

Bryan Elsley: Why I Created Skins.

Published in: on January 24, 2011 at 9:25 PM  Leave a Comment  

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