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