Well, the inevitable has happened. The UK series Skins, which is currently airing its sixth series, will end after its seventh series.
This is a rather embarrassing post for me to write since I have now admitted that I have seen every episode of ABC Family’s “The Secret of the American Teenager”. Not only have I seen every episode, but I also analyze every episode. Not only do I analyze every episode, but I hate practically every episode. It’s a terrible cycle that I have been trapped in for years.
A Film You Used to Love, But Now Hate
There is this survival of the fittest mentality among pre-teenage girls that rears its ugly head at middle school birthday parties. They are the worst thing imaginable. At these parties you are subjected to things like charades, Ouija boards, public swimming pools, manicures given by some girl’s defenseless older sister, and terribly bad movies. Once I also had a run in with a Slip ‘n Slide; this was not a good time in my life. There is also a level of backstabbing, snarky insults, and terribly bad movies.
The first time I saw Save the Last Dance at one girl’s party it was great. Poor Julia Stiles. Her mother died. She had to move to the South Side of Chicago with her absentee dad. She gave up her dream to become a ballerina. She was a sad sack. Then she met Sean Patrick Thomas who taught her about hip hip. (I just googled him as Sean Patrick Harris.) Then they danced and fell in lurve. She had an audition, impressed the judges because a white girl incorporated some hip hop moves into a ballet routine and she got into Julliard. And they lived happily ever after.
Save the Last Dance was the go-to movie at these middle school parties that have caused me irreversible psychological damage. (Have you ever had to interpret the clue “Baywatch” in front of a group of tween girls during charades?) Save the Last Dance was great the first time and even the second time. By the third and fourth time, I had no idea why we were watching it again.
I rewatched Save the Last Dance in the past few years and was reminded of when it was this totally awesome movie that I watched with my frenemies at the time. Except now I hate it.
Let’s be honest for a second: the North American adaptation of Skins, a controversial but frank look at the lives of nine teenagers, never stood a chance for a second season renewal. I am not at all surprised that MTV canceled its grand experiment.
MTV released this statement yesterday:
“Skins is a global television phenomenon that, unfortunately, didn’t connect with a US audience as much as we had hoped. We admire the work that the series’ creator Bryan Elsley did in adapting the show for MTV, and appreciate the core audience that embraced it.”
With this statement, MTV is essentially just covering its ass. The network greatly misjudged the kind of program its target demographic wanted to see (for starters, use slang they understand) and how to handle the show’s critics (grow a pair and stand up for yourselves).
Above all, MTV’s Skins never clicked with audiences. It never realized how this version of Skins needed to be Americanized. Instead it was often an awkward, clunky program with marred by poor casting and some terrible acting. One review rightly pointed out that because the show was set in a nameless North American city, the audience never got the sense of where the characters problems came from other than their broken homes. MTV’s Skins lacked authenticity.
I may be one of the few people who is sad this see Skins ride off into the sunset. There were times when the adaptation worked brilliantly. The episodes the centered on Tea and Cadie were two wonderful examples of this show’s potential. By the final episodes, when we saw less of the intended protagonist Tony and more of the quirky secondary characters (Chris! Abbud! Daisy!), the show found its groove. There was even some lovely character development for Michelle and Stanley (though I still hate the idea of them as a couple). Had some of the actors been replaced or maybe just given acting lessons, a second season could have capitalized on this fleeting instances of life we saw in that last episode.
Most people spent too much time comparing Skins to the original UK version. Yes, in comparison, the US version was utter crap. But how could you possibly fairly judge a television program if you are only thinking about how it doesn’t meet your expectations? I made a point when I recapped every episode to judge Skins on what it did do and not how it didn’t match up. On its own merit, MTV’s Skins was an earnest teen drama. In a world of teen media dominated by the Serena van der Woodsens, the Pretty Little Liars, and those dumb kids on Secret Life who can’t seem to use a condom, Skins had something decent to offer.
Should Skins have ever made in this first the place? Probably not. But it is unfair that Skins was essentially bullied off the air by groups like the Parents Television Council and was never given a real shot.
What are your thoughts on Skins cancellation? Am I being too forgiving of this show’s many flaws? Do you wish Skins could come back to the US is some other incarnation? Sound off below.
A Film That Reminds You of Your Past
Before I was this fabulously witty 20-something female whose thoughts so many of you enjoy reading day after day, I was just your typical quiet, kind of nerdy, very moody teenage girl. Back in the early aughts I was just so over it all, passively reading The New Yorker, knitting, and constantly rolling my eyes at the buffoons that filled my daily life. Several movies remind me of this glorious stage of my life, whether because I watched them all or the time or because I relate to some characters. Especially the ones with supernatural beings. Here they are.
Sixteen Candles (1984)
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Ginger Snaps (2000)
Ghost World (2001)
Mean Girls (2004)
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)