Friday, August 15, 2008

Sepinwall on TV: 'Skins' review

Today's column reviews BBC America's new teen drama "Skins":
"Skins," the British teen drama that storms our shores on Sunday night at 9 on BBC America, starts off seeming determined to make "Gossip Girl" and its "Every parents' worst nightmare" billboards seem positively quaint. Compared with the amount of sex, booze and drugs - in both talk and deed - in the "Skins" pilot, "Gossip Girl" is a Parents Television Council gold star winner.

But then "Skins" takes a very interesting left turn in its later episodes. It doesn't go all prudish - because, let's be frank, most teenagers of every generation spend a whole lot of time thinking about, talking about and finding ways to do things kids their age aren't supposed to - but it finds ways to tell other truths about its characters besides who they're trying to shag.
To read the full thing, click here. The show grew on me over the course of the three episodes I watched, so I imagine I'll work it into the blog rotation for the time being, starting Sunday night.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to say but if you only saw the first three episodes then you pretty much seen the best that this show has to offer. At around episode four or five this show completely goes off the rails. And don't even get me started on the trainwreck second season.

Anonymous said...

For some reason, I think Alan will love Season 2, which is really awesome. (I loved the whole Season 1, by the way.)

Dare I say that Season 2 is more psychological and Sopranos-esque, and Alan will have a fun time delving into it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Okay, time to put in the usual warning that I apply to Doctor Who: tread very lightly in discussing stuff that hasn't aired here yet. The two comments so far are okay, but if people start getting into describing (or even alluding to) plot twists, I'm gonna start deleting comments.

Dan said...

Does BBC America show any shows that, y'know, were made by the BBC? :)

Anyway, Skins is a good series, worth catching. We get so many American teen-soap stuff that it'll be fun to see the reaction from Americans to an edgier British answer to the same.

Maybe "Skins Parties" will catch on in the USA (as it did Australia) and lots of homes will be trashed while parents are on holiday (sorry, vacation) this summer, too... :)

Anonymous said...

I actually thought that Season 1 was excellent. The characters are all interesting interesting in their own way, and thats really wat the show is about. Season 2 was good, but definitely not as even as season 1.

Steven Timberman said...

I'll try to contain my excitement, but Skins is coming to America?! Awesome!

I spent 4 months studying in Ireland and quite a few of my Irish friends mentioned Skins.

What they didn't mention is just how "adult" the teen show actually is. While I'll still have a soft spot for Seth, Summer and the rest of the gang Skins always seemed like it was playing rougher, faster, and just a bit meaner then their contemporaries.

Anonymous said...

Coincidentally I just got through watching both seasons for the first time, and in a surprisingly short period of time. I thought it absolutely kept up its game all the way through (don't worry that's all I'll say about the future).

The teen characters are very recognisable from my own relatively recent UK youth, even if the situations and adults are (often hilariously) exaggerated. It manages to walk the line between intense drama and surreal comedy in a way that few shows are able. I think you'll keep on enjoying it if you're careful not to take its reality too literally, but also to appreciate the authenticity of the characters' depiction even when you don't like where the writers take them...

Anonymous said...

(and I was actually thinking as I was watching how it'd be nice to read Sepinwall's take on this)

Anonymous said...

I watched this entire show online at the suggestion of a few different people, and I have to say, I adored it. I felt the show was moving, not preachy and that it tended to go in directions that I wasn't necessarily expecting, but still enjoyed. Compared to other "teen" shows like Degrassi, this had so much more bite and a realistic feel.

I'm hoping to get more of my friends addicted now that it's something they can catch on TV and would love to see Alan recap this show.

Shawn Anderson said...

It's really remarkable how different the series is after the first episode. It's no wonder that BBC America chose to air the first two episodes to start.

I'm curious to see if all the music from the original ends up getting licensed for over here, as the listings I've seen are pretty incredible. Hard to tell from the screeners, as they're often sent out before licensing is complete (the second screener, for instance, has placeholders instead of tracks from Shuggie Otis, Donovan and the like).

Anonymous said...

The music on Skins is absolutely phenomenal. It's the best soundtrack to a TV series I've ever heard, bar none.

The music is like a vital character on the show.

The show even launched a blog devoted to the music on each episode:

Unfortunately, the Skins DVD release in the UK omits most of the music because of rights fees. Same for the Skins broadcasts in Canada and Australia.

So I'm assuming it's the same for BBC America.

BTW, Alan: Thanks for watching more than one episode. I read other reviews that just dissed the first episode, without actually "getting" the show.

barefootjim said...

I'm not sure that we can trust anything that anonymous says.

First, the second season is "a trainwreck."

Then -- very next post -- that same season is described as "really awesome."

Then, season 2 is described as "good, but definitely not as even as Season 1."

All over the map! So when anonymous posts again, talking about how great the music is, I'm not sure that I can trust someone who is continually contradictory like that!

Anonymous said...

I watched the whole series at the urging of some friends and while I enjoyed it and thought it took some interesting risks, I also think "Skins" is a victim of its own format. Since each episodes heavily focuses on one specific character, if it's someone who isn't as interesting or who the viewers doesn't like, the episode can be hard to get through.

I agree with the person who said season 2 is uneven. But boy did it give Nicholas Hoult a chance to shine.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with most of what was already stated. The show is a wash. Although interesting for the pure over the top factor, it wears on your sensibility after episode 4 or 5.

I couldn't even stomach the second season past episode 201.


I'm sure there are better shows as far as wasting away your lazy days of summer Alan.

Anonymous said...

Skins is an excellent show with an authentic youth voice (its writers are, with one exception, all under 30) and some very impressive young actors and directors.

I hope you continue to blog about it, as it will be interesting to hear an American response to the show. Edits I expected, but pixiling is a surprise - that must be annoying.

BTW, Skins aired on Channel 4, a mainstream, terrestrial channel with a "firstlook" arrangement with 4's digital service E4 (basically showing each episode a few days earlier than the terrestrial viewing.)

Anonymous said...

It isn't a great show, but at times it can be interesting, particularly as it does represent the mindset of modern youth in the UK (even if it does go OTT in their actions).

The problem is that while half the cast are great, the other half are terrible, and the writing can veer from affecting and honest, to pointlessly outlandish, derivative and frankly amateurish. Something that can be expected when the 2nd lead writer is a 20 year-old who got the job because of his dad (the head writer) who later got his friends on board seemingly irrespective of talent.

The soundtrack is however very good, and I think Sid is both a very good actor (I don't think this is a spoiler, but you can remove it if you wish) and a good character, who is unfortunately the only one written consistently all the way through.

Sleepyhead said...

barefootjim - are you sure you know what 'anonymous' means?