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September 4th, 2007


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11:58 pm - Skins? More Like Pins! (Abigail!)
Every now and then, some show will inexplicably catch fire on my flist, suddenly being mentioned and loved by multiple people, despite the fact that I had hardly heard a word about it before. This summer, that show was the British teen drama Skins.

After my braintwin gymble succumbed, it became apparent that I might as well watch nine measly episodes (oh, British television! so much easier to catch up on!).

From the very first episode, I found the show strangely addictive. I couldn't figure out why, as I hadn't really seen anything particularly special about the pilot, but I had been entertained, and I craved another episode soon afterward. I woke up the next morning wanting to return to the world of Skins.

The world of Skins is that of eight teenagers (16-18) attending college (not college like we call it, but something in between secondary school and university, if I have it right) in Bristol. One of the strengths of the show is that the characters are very diverse and distinct; the pilot manages to introduce them all without confusion. Let me tell you about them; to learn even more, click the link to see each character's video diary to get a better sense of who they are.

Tony: Tony is charismatic, and you want to like him, but it's incredibly difficult because he's...kind of evil. The actor, Nicholas Hoult, was in About a Boy, which I've never seen, but he's got that Cillian Murphy-esque face that makes him look really devious. But Tony's one of the more complex characters in the series, and watching his arc and getting to know him is both fascinating and frightening, because, well, I said he's kind of evil. He can be a real bastard, but he also does really twisted things in the name of helping people.

Michelle: Tony's very pretty girlfriend. She adores Tony, but Tony is...Tony, as you can see above. At first, she seems like just a pretty girl, but she grows during the course of the season.

Sid: Tony's best mate...but in love with Michelle. Now, wait, wait, wait. I know you've seen this story a thousand times before, but let me tell you: you've never seen it like it's done on Skins. See, Sid is the nice guy of the group, the yin to Tony's yang, but that doesn't mean he can't be kind of a dick sometimes, albeit unintentionally. In the pilot, he gets to know Cassie, and there's some sparkage there that confuses the situation.

Cassie: Wispy anorexic blonde, generally people's favorite character. Cassie is like River but a little more lucid...a little too lucid. She's slightly off-kilter, but she's grown good at faking happiness. She's constantly breaking into mile-wide smiles and saying "Wow," and it's heartbreaking because you know she's hurting inside. At times, it almost feels like the actress is overplaying her until you realize she's not; that's just how Cassie is.

Chris: Sort of a doof, really into drugs. He fancies his psychology teacher, Angie, and let's just say she doesn't mind the attention.

Jal: Michelle's best friend. Unlike the previous characters, she's black (I almost wrote African-American, which...ha!). She's probably the most decent, caring member of the group.

Maxxie: Unlike the previous characters, he's gay. Openly gay, with no gay angst. Also, he's an artist.

Anwar: Unlike the previous characters, he's Muslim. Not a very good one, though, because while he does his prayers, he also drinks and does drugs and does all sorts of non-Muslim things. He's a sex-obsessed twat, generally.

The wonderful thing is that all the actors are actual teenagers. As far as I can tell, the oldest one is 19, and it shows. They all look really young, and they act young. And the actors really inhabit their characters; everything feels and sounds natural.

Another neat thing is that with the exception of the premiere and the finale, which are ensemble pieces, each episode focuses on a different character, and that's how we get to learn a bit more about what makes them tick. There's always more to them that meets the eye. Plus, each episode comes accompanied with a sort of minisode that is very entertaining.

spadada describes Skins as "The N: After Dark," and although the only show I've ever watched on The N (besides Daria, of course) is Radio Free Roscoe, I can see that as being an apt description. Skins has the sort of emotional honesty that you don't normally see in teen dramas. I think the reason dramas about adolescence are so popular is because it's such an intermediary stage of life, where you're in between child and adult, trying to figure out who you are, which means ripe storytelling opportunities. On Skins, teens are real people as complicated as any adult. Surprisingly enough, the most apt comparator to Skins that I can think of is Friday Night Lights. It's like FNL minus the football plus nudity and cursing. Both shows have an artful shooting/editing style to them. Both shows have those raw moments that you don't expect to have captured in a television show. Both shows have multilayered teen characters. Skins is more character-driven, though, since it doesn't have football drama to help it along. And it's much funnier.

The main flaw in the show, however, is the portrayal of the parents. Because...they all kind of suck, and it gets kind of repetitive and cliché if every single character has all this crazy family drama. Everyone has a different flavor of family drama, though, and it comes in different degrees.

I stayed up an extra hour to watch the finale last night. That's the kind of show this is. I accidentally spoiled myself for the final scene and decided I did not want to wait an entire day to get to it. The show has a lovely way of ending episodes on beginnings. I was quite pleased to call the ending of "Jal" (the third episode), not knowing how much longer it was until the end but seeing the perfect note on which to end...and the show took that perfect note. It leaves you with a feeling of hope, a feeling that these crazy kids will persevere.
Current Mood: sickrumbly tummy
Current Music: Timo Maas - Like Siamese

(109 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:tigeremme
Date:September 5th, 2007 12:18 pm (UTC)
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dude, because i don't already have enough TV to watch when i get back. dammit.

also, you should see About a Boy.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2007 02:10 pm (UTC)
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I am an evil TV pusher like that! It's only nine episodes, though. Low commitment. Until you're hooked and hungrily await the next season.

I would like to see About a Boy.
[User Picture]
From:fmith
Date:September 5th, 2007 01:01 pm (UTC)
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I just marathoned this show like two days ago and loved it. It was a little uneven at times, and I was annoyed that everyone got their own episode besides Maxxie and Anwar (and they're the two who needed more, I thought), but basically it was a lot of fun. I liked Tony more and more the crazier he got, and Sid more and more as he became slightly less of a dick. Chris and Cassie are definitely my favorites. Also Maxxie, who I hear is getting a bigger role next season. And Jal.

That finale was nuts.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2007 02:20 pm (UTC)
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I haaaaated Tony so much, but I...also kind of liked him in a way? Because he was such a sociopath? And I tried really hard to continue liking Sid even when he was tearing Cassie's heart out.

The finale was totally nuts. I got that feeling about, er, that thing that happens, but I didn't really expect it. And I liked the Magnolia-esque musical montage.
[User Picture]
From:dachelle
Date:September 5th, 2007 01:16 pm (UTC)
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Skins! OMG! How did you miss mine and eirefaerie's obsession with it earlier this year? We even made a giant picspammy "Why You Should Watch Skins" post.

Also, SID!
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2007 02:22 pm (UTC)
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Sid!!

I didn't miss it! I just...didn't pay attention because I had other stuff to do and didn't think it was my thing!

I...want to see the post now, though.
[User Picture]
From:miniglik
Date:September 5th, 2007 01:24 pm (UTC)
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I've been resisting this show, mostly because it felt like one of those shows were every single character is such an asshole it's hard to relate to anyone. But, hmm... you make it sound interesting.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2007 02:15 pm (UTC)
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It's what I do, Sarah. It's what I do.

Every single character is not an asshole. They're all just...people.
[User Picture]
From:etherealclarity
Date:September 5th, 2007 02:34 pm (UTC)
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How do you get ahold of these shows?? I want to watch, how do I watch??
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2007 02:55 pm (UTC)
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I shall have to teach you the ways of BitTorrent. See me after class.
[User Picture]
From:eirefaerie
Date:September 5th, 2007 02:42 pm (UTC)
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I love Tony. He is my precious Machiavellian genius. Plus, he looks good without his shirt on.

My list of Skins characters, in the order that I love them:

Tony
Jal
Chris
Effy
Maxxie
Cassie
Anwar
Abby
Sid
Angie
Jal's brothers
Mad Twatter
Jal's dad
The Big Issue guy
Extras
Scenery
Atoms
Filmstock
Hitler
Michelle
Abby's brother
[User Picture]
From:fmith
Date:September 5th, 2007 02:54 pm (UTC)
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I... kind of love you. For this list, I mean. (Michelle sucks.) And also the icon from up here.
[User Picture]
From:athenacqd
Date:September 5th, 2007 02:43 pm (UTC)
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Interesting. I'd talked to Spadada about this show months ago when it was first recc'd to her by a reliable source but I had no idea what it was actually about. I'll have to give it a go, I think. Thanks for the details.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC)
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You're welcome! I think you'll find it interesting.

Hee. Reliable source. I was talking to the girl from TWoP who interned there the other night, and I mentioned I was watching Skins and who had recommended it, and she was all, "I was about to say!" So apparently he pushes it on everyone. Hee.
[User Picture]
From:maka2000
Date:September 5th, 2007 03:13 pm (UTC)
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I like Skins. I got gymble to watch it, so yay for me. I also got one of my best pals hooked just this weekend. He has an AppleTV and a HUGE flat screen, so I hope to see my favorite bunch of Bristol teens on there sometime soon.

Cassie and Sid are my favorites. I don't hate Michelle. And I really don't like Tony. Did you feel sorry for him at all in "Effy"? I didn't. What was your favorite episode?
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2007 03:20 pm (UTC)
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Dude, I haaaated Tony (as a person, I mean: as a character, he's awesome) so much, and then...oh my God, I did like him a bit more in "Effy"! It was crazy!! I mean, it's the way of things, right: in order to make you like someone despicable, put him up against someone worse so that you end up rooting for him.

I'm not sure what my favorite episode was. "Cassie" was a really great outing, I think. "Sid" was good, and "Effy" was freaky but had good character moments. They were all pretty good; that's the way of British television. Shorter seasons = less crap.
[User Picture]
From:afrocurl
Date:September 5th, 2007 03:20 pm (UTC)
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truemyth sat me down on Sunday at ComiCon to watch the first two episodes, and I just was talking to her about it yesterday and just have the rest sitting on my computer now.

The first two episodes are great, and I just need to find some time to watch the rest of these.
[User Picture]
From:maka2000
Date:September 5th, 2007 03:27 pm (UTC)
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Truemyth got me hooked on Skins! She's an excellent pusher.
[User Picture]
From:sinca
Date:September 5th, 2007 03:46 pm (UTC)
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Oh, Skins. I miss it, so.
[User Picture]
From:duchessdogberry
Date:September 5th, 2007 03:57 pm (UTC)
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The show is on my list and has been for some months.

But when I saw you post this, I thought it might be a good idea to point you to Nicholas Hoult's appearance on Nevermind the Buzzcocks (Parts 1 2 3). The show is hosted by Simon Amstell who also happens to be one of the writers of Skins and at one point they sidetrack the show to talk about the insane circumstances surrounding the shoot of the Skins promo trailer.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC)
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That trailer blows, though, I have to say. It would not have convinced me to watch the show and, in fact, probably would have made me stay away from it.

I might check out the NTB as I want to see more of what he's like not as Tony. Because you always wonder about actors who are so good at playing characters like that.
[User Picture]
From:catatonia00
Date:September 5th, 2007 05:12 pm (UTC)
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Duuuuude!!! I just finished the finale, despite being bleary-eyed and tipsy. I could not believe that they'd pull off that montage with everyone singing to it. They totally made it work without you getting all cheesed out. Sid was so cute while singing out in the street. He made me want to make out with him then.

I totally get the FNL comparison. It's the fact that even the most reviled character tugs your heart, right? You end up not really hating anyone but understanding that some people just deal that way.

"Effy" had a Trainspotting meets Go feel to it. That was one whacked out episode.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC)
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They totally made it work without you getting all cheesed out.
Oh, totally. I loved how it connected all the characters and their situations.

It's the fact that even the most reviled character tugs your heart, right? You end up not really hating anyone but understanding that some people just deal that way.
Yeah.

"Effy" had a Trainspotting meets Go feel to it. That was one whacked out episode.
Ooh, that's a good way of describing it!
[User Picture]
From:maidofawesome
Date:September 5th, 2007 10:23 pm (UTC)
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Wow, it took me ages to get to the bottom of this page. I'm glad you liked the singing! I loved the singing! Erin and Cat hated it.

This always happens, I talk about shows to death and am ignored, then suddenly someone else starts watching it because someone ELSE recommended it to them and they're all 'I love this show! Watch it!' and I'm like 'I totally watched it first and SAID SO!' This has happened with pretty much every British show ever. Every good one, anyway. In the last couple of years.

See, I can see why people hate Michelle because she is a bit dull and very vain and full of it BUT when I was 16, the character I was most like is... Michelle. I can totally point all the characters to my friends. It really captures the feeling of being 16 - 16 was awesome. When you're 16, you can officially leave school, after your GCSEs. Or you can stay on and do A-Levels, either at school, in the sixth form, or at a sixth form college. The Skins kids are at sixth form college, while Abigail and co. are presumably staying at school for their A-Levels (assuming they're the same age). A-Levels are awesome though, because at most schools they let you wear whatever you want (or they make the uniform less restrictive - at the boys' school all my male friends went to, they had to wear suits.) and you get free periods and stuff, and can choose whatever subjects you want to take - in my day it was any three, I think it is six now because you take AS levels which are like half A-Levels, or something. I don't know. I took three A Levels, which was the norm. You can also do cool stuff like media studies, film studies, etc. Random shit. And you just feel more grown up suddenly, but still with the recklessness of being a kid, and suddenly you can get served in pubs and everyone is having massive parties and drinking and there's this awesome anarchic feel mingled with the restrictions of being a kid. Skins captures that really well.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2007 10:29 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the info on being British at 16! It's a wee bit different here. I still don't understand the whole "sixth form college" and "A-Levels" thing, though. But is the drinking age 16?
[User Picture]
From:ladydisdain225
Date:September 14th, 2007 07:57 am (UTC)
(Link)
How in the world did I miss this post?? Skins and 1776? I must have been blind.

I don't really have anything to add, I'm glad you liked it, glad you like Michelle (I didn't really care about her much and then suddenly I loved her and now she's one of my favorite characters the silly, shallow, affection starved idiot,) share the inexplicable love/hate for Tony (although you think that's bad? I adore Josh. Despite the fact that he's probably more psychotic than Tony. I lurve him and want to see more.)

Basically YAY you watched it.

And I will now be singing Cool Considerate Men for the next three days and it is all your fault.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 14th, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC)
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*bows*
[User Picture]
From:kieyra
Date:March 4th, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)
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I found your original Skins post!

I was trying to talk people on LJ into watching this as much as a *year* ago this very month!

I *wiiiiiiiin*!

...despite being completely out of touch with fandom for so long now.

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