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Kevin Broccoli

Kevin Broccoli
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July 19
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JANUARY 21, 2011 1:29PM

Why Skins is a Bad Show (And It's Not the Teenage Sex)

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The MTV show Skins has riled up a lot of people--particularly, but not surprisingly, the Parents Television Council.  They're trying to get MTV to edit the show or risk facing child pornography charges for a future episode where the naked backside of a teenage actor is shown.

The show is a hit over in England, and if you watch a few of the episodes on BBC America, it would seem like the show was almost tailor-made to be brought to America.  And what better home could it have than MTV?  The channel that's been offending parents for years.

So what did I think about checking out the show?

Well...it's kind of...boring.

Okay, I'll just come out with it:  It's a bad show.

And I'm not saying that because of the "offensive" elements of it.  It takes a lot to offend me.  What bothers me more about the show is the poor writing and the fact that the shocking aspects of the show aren't shocking at all.

Where has the PTC been the last ten years?

Teenage sex and drug use on television has been around since the original 90210.  A big deal is being made about the fact that these teenagers are being played by actual teenagers--as if somehow it's not as bad watching the kids on Glee cavorting around in skimpy cheerleader outfits because in reality they're in their late twenties.

Am I the only one who remembers the early days of Britney in the schoolgirl uniform?

Skins isn't the most sexually provocative thing ever put on the air.  That would be a show called Undressed that aired ten years ago where every episode feature three different couples--one of them a high school couple--having sex, talking about the sex they just had, and then having more sex.

I would venture to say that reality shows like Teen Mom and Jersey Shore do way more to influence the way kids behave, and the behavior on those shows isn't scripted.

It seems like nowadays if you to get a show on television, just tell some network honcho that the premise is "teenagers have sex and do drugs" and you'll be good to go.  The WB-turned-CW built an entire network around that concept.  Maybe that's why when I'm watching Skins, I just feel like I'm watching a rerun of some other show from a decade ago.

I don't find Skins to be worthy of all this attention.  Chances are, attention is what MTV was hoping for in the first place, because attention and bad publicity turn into killer ratings.  Remember all the flack Jersey Shore first got when it premiered?  Now it's become a tent pole of the network.

If the PTC really wanted to shut down Skins, they shouldn't have said a word about it.  A show that bad without any controversy surrounding it probably would have just faded away quietly.

Instead, we're probably going to have ten more shows like it in development by the time I'm done writing this post.

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I don't think there are many shows that show teenagers having sex and doing drugs. Maybe I just don't watch them. It seems like these shows are actually made for an older audience. It's a little creepy. Anyway, I've seen Skins and I like it, but it's shallow and stupid. It's like a second chocolate bar, or a third one, you know you shouldn't have. Maybe not that enjoyable.
Thanks for the voice of reason!! So many out of touch middle age people on this site are right on every new bandwagon of "things that should by hysterically feared for our childrens sake". I watched as well and concur that is was just boring and bad.
You've hit on something that I have noticed all along. The subject matter of these shows is not for me, but this generation is being exposed to and accepts just plain failing standards in the framing up of story. None of this garbage will be remembered a hundred years from now as being pivotal and important. There is no Mark Twain in our current wasteland of reality shows and 24/7 yellow journalism. What a failed legacy, all this shock schlock aimed at vulnerable minds.
As somebody who went to law school, I can say that the laws pertaining to child pornography are pretty black-and-white. If these kids are actual minors and are depicted in sex-acts on television, even if they are willing, then the studio is in violation of state laws. If they are engaged in interstate commerce with such depictions, putting it into the "stream of commerce" and such, then they are violating federal law and additional penalties can be imposed.

Even if the show sucks from an artistic perspective, the law is the law. And the law must be obeyed. Even by wealthy companies that are dedicated to corrupting youthful members of the proletariot though rampant depictions of cultural/sexual/Western-capitalist inspired decadence.

Personally, though, I do think that most laws will all be changed and rescinded to reflect the interests of corporations. If serious money could be made showing 7 year olds in sex acts, and if the companies making such films contributed much to the GOP, I am sure they would ignore the Christian Right and try to change the child-porn laws, so that they were more amenable to the interests of large predatory Capital.
I watched about ten minutes of the original show on BBC America and I have to concur--boring. I think the screaming was more for the benefit of the profile of the PTC, to show that they're actually paying attention.

MTV has become a true trash-pit ever since the first couple of seasons of Real World. It needs a wake-up call, like being put in with the "add at an extra monthly cost" group of channels for cable and dish access. I have to pay extra to AT&T U-Verse every month for channels I really want to see; I would gratefully jettison MTV and its satellites off my service if it would reduce the cost of my service every month.
And MTV knows that it will be a successful show despite being another poorly-written, uninspired show about people having sex. The network execs are depending upon the American moral machine to sprinkle it with the cache of outrage and taboo which is always a cheaper and more successful publicity avenue than any in-house or hired ad agency.
I like the UK series, particularly the first two seasons. Nicholas Hoult was meant to be the star of the ensemble, but Dev Patel was the breakout star and all the cast was great. Plus, you had indelible supporting characters like "Mad" Twatter or Sid's father, who felt well-developed despite their limited time on-screen.

I haven't seen the MTV series and probably won't because it can't live up to the original series.
Good post, Kevin. I blogged about SKINS too.