Shield Your Children--MTV's 'Skins' is Dangerous!

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"The most dangerous television show for children that we've ever seen." That's how the Parents Television Research Council's describes MTV’s remake of the British teen drama, Skins. The show, which depicts teen drug use and casual sex, has received a number of strong reactions, both positive and negative, since its premiere Monday night. But as Salon’s Matt Zoller Seitz puts it, what better motivation is there for young people to watch the show than a condemnation like the one the Parents Television Council gave skins? “If I were a young viewer who paid attention to the pronouncements of watchdog groups (and has there ever been one of those, ever?) I’d put any show they condemned on a list of must-sees” he writes.

There’s no shortage of opinions floating around about this show, but here’s a sample of the reactions it has garnered.

Is Skins bad for kids? Well, if shows directly influence behavior, over and above whatever morals that parents teach their kids--a big “if”--then yeah, maybe, I guess so. But on the other hand I have yet to witness a scenario in either series that I didn’t personally fantasize about in some form or another when I was the same age as the tees that comprise this programs demographic.
What seems charming and almost quaint in British English becomes crass and silly when flattened out by American tongues. The UK version’s accidental-seeming slickness is replaced here in the States with lots and lots of effort to be zippy and cool and “edgy,” a marketing word I’d hoped we were done with after the long slog of the ‘90s and ‘00s. I guess we are not.
  • Gabe at Videogum may be old, but he’s not stupid:
The only real problems with the show are that the acting is bad, the shock-value is boring, and not a single moment seems even remotely true to actual life. Admittedly, it is hard for me as a 54-year-old man to know what is true to life to today’s teenagers, but somehow I feel like very few of them wander into a suburban subdivision looking to buy drugs and end up at a high-end whorehouse filled with impossibly beautiful whores. I even find it hard to believe any of them actually MAKE CALLS on their phones. Don’t teenagers communicate exclusively in SEXTs now?
  • New York Press’s Esther Semo thinks Skins makes people uncomfortable because it's so realistic:
The reason that so many people were so outraged and hyper-critical of the adaptation is not because it’s inherently British or because the original setting is vital. It is, perhaps because the show is ours. Skins belongs to its viewers. It is, more true to life than most any other show about teenagers. The characters aren’t perfect, they don’t learn their lesson, they fall for the wrong person and they fuck up, majorly. It’s a present for teenagers, from teenagers (all writers are young adults and all actors are teens) so there is never an ounce of inclination that the viewer is being condescended to.
  • But blogger Ken Tucker found the cast a bit too good looking:
What disengaged me from the new Skins was that everyone looked so attractive and alert (even when the characters are supposed to be messy and wasted), so ready with a perfectly timed quip (even the characters who were supposed to be dim), that I didn’t suspend my disbelief for a minute. This was not the case with the far more engaging British version, which, like much British TV, isn’t afraid to cast actors who aren’t ripped and lovely, and whose characters are permitted to mumble and be irritating, if that’s what’s called for.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.