March Madness - Skins US

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When we were all introduced to Skins in the UK, most of its fans probably would have the same reaction as me: ‘here’s a show that’s different. It talks about teenagers, without talking to them. It’s not condescending or after-school special, it’s just well-made television.’ Or you know something along those lines.

The thing about British television is that it has always followed a very different business model to American television. There has always been a stronger focus on providing television that the government thinks people need to watch as opposed to what they want to watch. In America, it’s the opposite – capitalist television at it’s best. Of course, both have good and bad qualities.

As a result, though, there are strongly different cultures that surround content regulation on television.

Skins in the UK, therefore had a lot more freedom to show sixteen year olds having sex and taking drugs like their life is a final rave party before the world ends. Most American TV shows, while often great quality, have to appeal to sponsor values and have trouble showing sixteen-year-olds smoking a bong without a reverential priest telling them off or them at least learning the error of their ways before the end of the episode (and we all know those sixteen-year-olds are actually twenty-something’s in baseball caps and short-shorts).

So, when the UK Skins fans heard that there was to be a remake of it in the US, I think we all thought ‘there goes the essence of a great show.’

If that wasn’t worse enough, the pilot for the American remake is actually taken from the UK version word-for-word. Of course, in this episode it already becomes evident that there are qualities of the show lost. For example, all the swearing in the first show is changed for lighter, less offensive swear words.

Then we are taken into a slightly different territory as the storyline changes slightly. But as a viewer, the show has already lost me.

The British charm is lost, the acting isn’t great, and the characters aren’t as relatable. And, finally, yes, there is an added air of afterschool special.

Britain does grungy, and startlingly honest television very, very well and, in this case, it definitely should have stayed that way.

My only consolation for knowing that this show was made was knowing that it also did really poorly in the States.

Review by Jemma Nott


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