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Sarah Fister Gale

Sarah Fister Gale
Chicago, Illinois, USA
August 07
Sarah Fister Gale is a freelance journalist, novelist and wine-drinker based in Chicago. She is agented by the fabulous Jacquie Flynn of Joelle Delbourgo Associates who is currently seeking a good home for her novel, Losing Jenni, a story of a little girl who drowns in the Chicago River, and the amazing choice her mother makes to cope with her loss. Follow her on Twitter @SarahGale.

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 27, 2011 11:58AM

Skins is appalling-- but not because of the sex and drugs

Rate: 5 Flag

Despite every voice in my head begging me not to, I watched the first episode of Skins at MTV’s website yesterday. And I admit it, I was appalled, but not because it was rife with 16-year-olds having sex and taking drugs.

'Skins' dropped from 3 

I question any person with access to cable TV who claims they are shocked by the idea that (gasp) teenagers have sex and drink liquor.  And in fact, while the characters in Skins made frequent raunchy reference to getting laid, and there much swallowing of generic ‘narcotics’ – that looked more like antacid than acid -- there was little actual sex or nudity in the opening episode, beyond a g-rated bubble bath and some provacative outfits.

So no, scantily clad teenagers talking dirty to each other while trying to get high was not what shocked my liberal sensitivities. What was appalling about this show was how poorly its characters were written.

Ridiculously two-dimensional, each teenager is little more than a caricature of a comic book high school kid. There is the requisite handsome gang leader who demands that his friends lose their virginity or get lost; the  ‘crazy girl’ who we are warned can’t be around knives, but is discovered alone in the school cafeteria sculpting vegetable art with giant shiny blades; and the poor sad-sack virgin who masturbates in bed, can’t make it to class, and always seems to have ketchup on his face.

Come on MTV. You’ve been catering to this age group for 30 years, do you still not see them as real people? With Skins, you had an opportunity to create a show with depth and originality that appealed to a misunderstood age group. Instead you boiled them down to empty stereotypes.

And the adult characters are even more absurd. Screeching parents, sobbing love-sick teachers, and middle-aged housewives who expose their breasts to the neighbor boys make a mockery of the real challenges teens have dealing with authority figures.  

Teen angst offers any writer an ample abundance of  genuine story lines to accurately reflect their struggles. Why would you reduce this show to a series of silly, cartoon experiences, that neither grab our attention or make us laugh.

You insult us with this drivel.

Give us real characters who make difficult choices before they go off and have sex or do drugs, and maybe then you’ll earn the right to be called ‘The Most Dangerous Show for Teens.’ For now you are just one more insipid attempt to lure the youth demographic with gratuitous imagery and ‘shocking’ situations. 

The second episode of Skins had a more than 50 percent decline in viewers. That alone should send a message to MTV’s producers. This show doesn’t ring true. It’s hollow and flat, and the target audience is smarter than that.

No amount of caterwauling from the Parent Television Council would stop teens from watching a show that promises sex, drugs and random hookups. But what will kill their interest is a show that mocks their intelligence.

Skins looks very much like something written by a group of 40-year-old men who are trying to make the younger generation think they are still cool.  As with most adults when it comes to impressing teens, they clearly missed the mark.

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tv, mtv, skins, review, sex, drugs, teens, television

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I had the same reaction:

Skins wasn't on my radar, but it sounds dreadful. Your observations on the complexities of adolescence, the abundance of genuine story ideas and the intelligence of today's teens are spot on. The writers could take a look at The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles for some guidance.
I completely agree with you. I do believe that skins could be a great opportunity for teenagers to relate to the realistic struggles of adolescence, but chooses not to be.
One of my friends said 'Hey, you should watch skins...I think you might like it!'
After watching it.....let's just say it wasn't exactly my cup of tea.....the main reason was down to poor acting and writing - I didn't get beyond the second episode of the first season.
Although I suppose I am no one to talk, as I do often watch similar TV shows which present no acting scope or writing ability, and enjoy them just the same.....maybe that was what my friend was getting at?
I really think it's aimed more at the age group that is supposedly too young to watch it.
Showing the sexual freedom is terrible, I agree. But having the young babes on camera in revealing outfits is welcomed by most guys. We yearn for a return to the days when at least some of the babes don't wear a bra. Maybe this will help to stop some babes from having a dozen straps showing instead of a bounce in their step.
I won't bother watching this drivel either, but I think the trend toward poor writing is become more pervasive, as evidenced by crap such as this. Lack of plot and character development are, sadly, now commonplace in most tv programs today - especially those aimed at younger audiences. Can it be true that the dumbing down of America is now so complete that kids today no longer read (so they wouldn't know a good plot or dimensional character if it bit them) and apparently, have not much dimension themselves.

Oh, and for Mr. London who yearns for the days when "babes" go bra-less so he can witness the "bounce" in their step? Where have you been? FAKE BOOBS DON'T BOUNCE! And from what I've seen, women prefer the fake look these days. So pathetic. What do guys see in boobs that are as hard as cement? Even teens are getting boob jobs these days - which boggles my mind that a parent would even consider such a thing!

Thumbs down - both to Skins and fake boobs. If women only realized how utterly silly they look with rock-hard boobs that don't bounce and stick out like...well, a Barbie doll.
What Sally said about John Hughes.

And to build on that: I wonder if there isn't a deeper problem. The "writers" see themselves as "content providers" and as you make clear---this is the result.

Cardboard characters have a MUCH better immediate ROI.

What if they don't want to do any better!
Instead of yet another generic crop of affluent suburban airheads with their heads up their asses, why not try something ala the classic 50's film Blackboard Jungle. Let MTV send its pampered film crew and music video weaned emo "directors" and "writers" into an inner city HS and try, just try to make a "reality" show before they get their asses handed to them, their equipment stolen and their stupid asses thrown bodily into the street. I'd pay money to see that.
This and other Skins bashing has inspired me to write an impassioned defense of it here (http://open.salon.com/blog/wandering_with_a_pen/2011/01/28/skins_is_the_most_beautiful_show_on_tv). OK well actually it's about how the real version is awesome and uses the MTV one as a comparison study to make my points.

If there is interest I will write a post about how they expertly craft 3D characters from the 2D self projections of teenagehoodom throughout the series.
Oops. Here is the real link for the above comment.
I haven’t seen Skins but it sounds a lot like the movie that came out about 12 or 13 years ago “Kids.” Regardless of what is in there society should be concerned about the way kids are raised and the fact that a large percentage of society doesn’t spend nearly as much time with them and educating them. A big part of the reason for this is our Capitalist culture that teaches everyone from cradle to grave that they should be obsessed with buying stuff whether they need it or not; this means that instead of educating kids parents are working and shopping, working and shopping.
I watched the first episode of Skins granted it wasn't what I was expecting and it is no Degrassi. I hung in there and watched the second episode of the season and I must say the closeted lesbian in a dysfunctional family was really close to reality. Yeah the show might have unrealistic qualities like her dad being a part of the mob or whatever, but that's why it's a show. I also would like to add as shocking as it may seem there are teenagers who are Bering pressured into sex and drugs more and more. I think you should review over a few more episodes before coming to a concluding judgement about the show.