MTV Shows Some Skins

Sadie McGuire, Entertainment Editor


Accurately portraying American teenage life on television has proved to be a difficult feat. There’s a slew of options that don’t quite make the cut: the aptly titled Secret Life of the American Teenager, with is filled with its share of teen pregnancies and hookups, all with a little too much melodrama; Degrassi, which even though it is set in our neighbor to the north Canada, is riddled with school shootings, cancer, and far too many farfetched story lines. Now MTV steps up to the plate to bring British hit Skins stateside.

While the series trademarks it’s self as a “real look into real American teens,” it’s a far cry from an eye inside the coveted teenage world. Although most American teens wish they went to a school where everyone, even the slackers, look like they stepped off the pages of Teen Vogue, it’s far from reality. On top of their haughty studded ankle boots and pleather jackets, the teens in this ‘honest portrayal’ purchase marijuana from pimps and prostitutes, steal  SUVs from the rich kids, and make their parents mad to the point of murder for the sheer purpose of their own enjoyment. All this occurs while they walk the halls of their high school never entering an actual classroom, or having any homework. That would interfere with their narcotics habit, of course.

Skins was a bonafide hit in its original home in the U.K., capturing the British youth with their brand of trashy teenage life. This is no doubt believable, considering the differences between U.K. and American youth.  British kids can drink in bars at 18, and are notorious for their eclectic, underground club lifestyle, which influences their music and style. But because Skins found success in the U.K., does not equal success in the US. The differences between American and British teens stretches much further than across the pond.  Although the creators of the new Americanized Skins claimed they interviewed real American teens to get a real feel for shaping the characters, the interviews are conducted with teens living in the Lower East side of New York City. Cleary, these teens live a much different life than those stuck in the cornfields of the Midwest—a life without Daddy’s credit card to dice up their grade A Columbia cocaine.

There is an upside to this dilemma, though. While the premier episode may have been saturated with too good to be true situations, the next episodes have shown much more emotional depth. Each episode focuses on introducing the individual characters. For example, there’s the sexually confused Tea, who can’t seem to figure out the boundaries of her sexual orientation; and there’s pill-popping Chris, who has mommy-drama that delves far deeper than his prescription habits. It appears that for all its hard partying, Skins may have it’s a baby-soft spot as well.