Sunday, September 14, 2008

Skins, "Maxxie & Anwar": From Russia with love

Spoilers for the latest episode of "Skins" coming up just as soon as I get some firewood...

What a bizarre episode. Sort of a college spring break movie on borscht: cold and bleak and silly and strange. Every episode of "Skins" is in some way showing the kids' skewed viewpoint of events, but this one -- which featured Chris finally seducing Angie, Anwar losing his virginity (three times or more!) to the wood-choppin' Russian babe, Maxxie pulling a shotgun on the abusive husband, Tony throwing himself unsuccessfully at Maxxie, etc. -- felt almost like it was every character's (save Sid's) fantasy of what this trip to post-Soviet industrialist Russia would be like.

The Anwar/Maxxie schism anchored the fantasy stuff to a point, and I appreciated Maxxie calling Anwar on his hypocrisy. (He's against homosexuality because his religion says so, but he's not against drinking or drug use or premarital sex, all of which the Koran is also not in favor of.) It did seem odd, though, that they had been close friends for so long without it ever coming up before. Maybe they never shared a room together in the past, but Anwar's had no problem going along to the Big Gay Night Out, or in any other way being best mates with Maxxie, and only now does he voice an objection? Seemed less a result of the living quarters than of this being the first episode of the series to focus on these two.

Still, I had fun even as my eyebrows kept raising. What did everybody else think?

8 comments:

Alap said...

does talking about the thematic direction of the show count as a spoiler? if it does, delete this:

i'm probably not alone in thinking that the show more or less abandons its plaintive, close-examination-of-individual-character-details tone starting with this episode, at least not in the way you see in earlier episodes like "cassie" and "jal." maybe it's just the characters they choose to focus on, but it seems like the show adopts more of a trippy, rave-like tone, where it's more about the ludicrous plot twists and severely melodramatic character moments, and you don't really get too much time to just "chill," at least not in a sober way. now, i don't think "ludicrous" is a bad thing; i happen to like amped-up melodrama, and the show is still incredibly interesting and warrants close analysis. but it's just louder, and the character examinations are turned up to max volume. it gets a little disorienting.

Nicole said...

This was kind of a "what the hell?" episode for me because the stuff with the Russian girl was just so telegraphed and kinda stupid. I felt the next episode returned to the tone of the earlier episodes, even if less focussed on the individual characters.

On a side note, Dev Patel is in Slumdog Millionaire, which got rave reviews at the Toronto Film Fest and won the People's Choice award. From what I hear Patel does a great job and far surpasses his work in Skins.

clare328 said...

This episode was guest written by Simon Amstell, the comedian best known for hosting Never Mind The Buzzcocks. If you're familiar with his work, and his sense of humour, this episode really isn't a surprise. I love this episode for it's strangeness, and for me it took on that warped reality of when they're telling the story AFTER the fact. So it was exaggerated and twisted and seriously weird, and its so completely from the teenagers point of view, even if they didn't quite make it work as something from anwar and maxxie's POV. Also, go to the british website and check out the Extra Scene for this episode. It is the reason that I adore Chris so much. Well worth it,

Faye said...

I saw Simon Amstell in stand-up recently and he was not enarmoured with his experience with Skins, the representativeness of its characters and the plots, particularly the writers love affair with Tony and how he could do anything they wanted 'because he's confident!' - including them arguing with him that he should be good at the BJ, because he was Tony.

Not mentioning spoilers, but one of the few saving graces of season 2 was that the earlier parts of it tore apart Tony and his arrogance, until the campus-tour comeback.

Anonymous said...

What, no mention of all the "Friends" jokes????

--How you doin?

Anonymous said...

The main problem with the show is a lot of bad and maddeningly inconsistent writing around good ideas, characters and actors.

It is a show without a mission statement, or at least one that evaporated fairly quickly, where any and all internal logic is forgotten and characters act according to the what is necessary for the episode often completely ignoring what came before. The above poster's 'trippy' assertion is spot on. However, in my opinion it is as a result of nothing more than a 'have your cake and eat it'/throw everything against the wall and see what sticks approach to writing, which comes across as incredibly self-indulgent.

Anna said...

This is definitely my least favorite episode of the season, which is a shame because I really adore Simon Amstell. But this episode is so ridiculous and annoying, and i hate - frickin' hate - Anwar.

Alex said...

Do not despair. This episode is probably the weakest of the entire series so far (up to the end of season 2). There is only one other episode after this which abandons the close character-study direction.