Sunday, July 7, 2013

On Skins and Adolescence

Last Monday was the premiere of the first episode of the last series of Skins.


For those of you who don't know, Skins has been one of my favorite shows since it first washed up stateside my junior year of high school.  I loved it for a lot of reasons, including, in large part, the fact that Nicholas Hoult played Tony Stonem in the first two series.

But really, what drew me in when it comes to Skins was the way they portrayed people my age.  Yes, the show was racy and definitely a lot more wild than my life (or anyone that I knew, really) was at the time.  But after years of seeing the 16-19 year-old years treated like nothing more than bad grades, shopping trips, and shenanigans learning to drive, it was amazing, to me, to see a show that portrayed its teenage characters as complex, autonomous characters.

The characters in Skins had the complicated backstories that are often associated with much more adult stories -- neglect, abuse, loss, joy, family.  They also had real, complex problems -- depression, suicide attempts, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, anxiety.  Skins was the first show I ever watched that treated my generation more like adults than children.  And it made me feel less alone.

The characters in Skins made real, complex decisions and those decisions had consequences.  Even now, with the final series and the reboot of some of the original characters in the specials Fire, Rise, and Pure, the characters, who have aged since the last time we saw them (Effy Stonem, for example, is now working for a high-powered investment bank instead of wreaking havoc on her high school/college), are facing adult issues with real consequences.  And I'm excited to see where it all heads.  In the meantime, I'm glad there is at least one show that presents adolescence as something more complicated than just that awkward time between when you're a little kid and when you become a full-fledged grownup.

I am speaking, of course, to the UK version of Skins.  The American adaptation that MTV tried to pull off was a laughable shadow of its British counterpart.

Culturally yours,
Rachel Leigh

Photo credits: 
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http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ymYAlBoaXrk/TSYYdABn83I/AAAAAAAAALY/_q0J6Sxunuc/s1600/article-0-0CA776D4000005DC-732_634x429.jpg

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