Under the (SKINS)

January 31, 2010 at 5:11 pm (Uncategorized)

Behold, the return of SKINS! My first foiree into the world of teenage British drama started up again on Thursday, January 28th, for its fourth consecutive season. The brainchild of E4, it is the very first drama made exclusively and originally for the channel, as opposed to the normal airings of specific American shows or reruns of the popular, slightly older British sitcoms and rom-coms.

Skins follows the lives of teenagers in Bristol trying to cope with things way beyond their maturity level. School takes a second to drugs, alcohol, sex, relationships and sexual confusion. This sounds like a typical teenage soap opera, but it really isn’t: The actors are actually the same age (or maybe a year off) as the characters they portray; the series does not take place in some rich upper-end neighborhood like Manhattan or Orange County; and the love triangles are way less ridiculous.The writing is unusually gritty for a teen drama, and the minds behind it have given birth to plots that make my brain churn: a Casanova-esque lad who must relearn how to feel after being run over by a bus; a financially bankrupt teen who is living on his own, having an affair with his teacher, and is being actively destroyed by some mysterious illness that runs in the family; an almost clinically insane, depressed girl hopelessly in love and desperately trying to find something in life to hold on to….and that’s just in the first two seasons. The third season started with an entirely new cast (after the older cast graduated), and the fourth season has picked up right where that new cast left off.

I have high hopes for this new season. The first episode focused entirely on Thomas, a pleasant surprise and strange departure from the Effy-centric plot lines. It follows his struggle to deal with a death in a nightclub on his watch, a drug dealer who it turns out he knows personally, and pretty extreme girlfriend problems. It also explored something I have rarely seen on teenage dramas: the need to reconnect to a spiritual community. Thomas is a Frenchman, and I feel as though he his from Haiti because of the colorfulness of the community and the tropical beat of the hymns they sing, and I find it really refreshing. It isn’t often that I see religion portrayed in a positive light, or religion that is not only there to discourage sex and drugs, and I really like that Thomas actually wants to be a part of it.

While I liked parts of this episode, it seemed too incredibly mopey and moody for me. Or maybe I was just waiting for some Emily/Naomi story lines? Emily and Naomi are the two halves that make the whole of the ground-breaking lesbian plot line that has garnered attention from gay and straight communities alike. In series three, it was a heart-wrenching path to self discovery and acceptance, and watching Naomi struggle as a straight girl having feelings for a gay Emily was revealing and honest. Naomi breaks Emily’s heart several times and breaks her own in the process, until she just gives up trying to be straight and gives in to her feelings. It’s a lovely, lovely story and it makes me very happy to see. I love gay rights and anything that portrays gay people in a positive and normal light.

So that I don’t rant about gay rights and why some of us straight people are downright crazy for not supporting it, I will just say this: thanks for coming back, Skins. I await the return of Effy, the conflicts between Thomas and Pandora, and some cute JJ antics.

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