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MTV’s “Skins”: It’s Nothing Like They Think

January 26, 2011

MTV launched a new scripted series on January 17th called “Skins.” This program was based on a show with the same title created for British Television that has been in production for a couple of years. If that sounds extremely highbrow for our stumblebum M, well, fear not Jersey Shorers.  The Americanized version of the show has managed to fall victim to what I call “DS.” To spell it out, It’s DIABLO SYNDROME.

The Culprit is everyone’s favorite strip club dancer turned Oscar Winning Scribe: Diablo Cody and her particular style of storytelling that has seemingly captured the imagination of everyone who thinks they can appeal to the youth of America by speaking in her voice. Well, ok, she has nothing to do with this show herself; that blame belongs to Bryan Elsley. But, like anything that gets hot and then gets recycled, she has everything to do with it. Let’s take a closer look, home skillet.

In the world of Diablo, it’s the kids who use the SAT words, are stuffed so tightly with glib you wonder if they’re going to explode “bomb” mots and never seem to be phased by anything, as long as they are the center of attention.  And all of that is true for this new MTV series, where a particular group of Baltimore students stay in, hangout, sneak out, drug up, drink down, hook up, hit up, text out, phone up, and occasionally find time for class and their home lives. As you might guess, they don’t lack direction.

In the meantime, and in between time, we have the “adults,” and yes those quotation marks are necessary, because in the world of Diablo, the older folks are only there as the punch lines to every joke, as a location to place your teen angst ridicule or as proof that you knew everything all along, except in the cases where they’re NOT your parental figures, in which case they could be wizened, kindly, sweet and/or pathetic, or the tool to get you whatever you want, be it a ride someplace, some fine drugs or booze or the funding you need to make your awesome life that much more awesome. Such is the case here, where we have parents and older siblings that are nothing more than caricatures, either trying to be down with the kids or act as those needed vending machines for a stash of pot, pills or cash.

The patter is so distracting that the story narrative really doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of action going on, but whatever. One guy’s a virgin and he wants to get laid. One girl’s a lesbian and everyone in school knows it and no one gives her the least bit of grief, yet the girl who has fallen in love with her is afraid to show her true feelings for her in the halls. Oh and yeah, the gay girl’s dad is apparently part of the Mafia, and is trying to encourage his daughter to go straight, even as he isn’t!

That’s not even a third of the various storylines this program has (a nod to the doddering Grandma who constantly talks about past presidential headlines as if they’re current events). But to me, the most irresponsible element is in the program title and how it got used in the pilot episode. “Skins” refers to condoms, and when one character gets taken in a SUV to the hospital after a drug overdose (but then wakes up and is apparently fine, except gets out of the car to pee) someone calls for the much needed items, the vehicle’s gears are engaged in the search, and, passengers and all, go rolling right into the Bay! How about that for a negative subliminal message for condom usage!

There’s a lot of pretty people to look at all doing some borderline perverted stuff, which relates to an older and seemingly wiser MTV series called “Undressed,” which was more or less an anthology series that sometimes arced for several episodes on small groups of people usually in college (so again, older and actually wiser) and their sexual exploits. The trouble is that Diablo Syndrome makes the whole thing unwatchable. And believe me, if there’s anything worse than Diablo Syndrome, it’s IMITATION Diablo Syndrome. Between that and the outcries over questionable behavior of kids who are supposed to be in high school and sponsors pulling their ads off of the program, and the announcement that the second episode of the series lost more than fifty percent of its ratings from the debut, I simply say: “Skins!” Get ‘em before they’re gone!

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2011 10:03 pm

    I’ve yet to watch the US version, but the UK original is fab. Funny and tragic and sad. The consequences of the actions of the kids sure do come home to roost…

  2. January 26, 2011 10:27 pm

    Hi Orodemniades, and thanks for sharing!

    I was poking around hoping to find some complete episodes of the Brit version of the show, because based on the descriptions, that actually sounded like it might work. Just as an example of how the US version isn’t like that, in the episode with the SUV, where the car ends up in the water, we see the gang of kids all walking home dripping wet. Nobody called a tow truck to try to get the car out! In the next episode, nothing was said about it, and no one got grounded! Pretty ridiculous, right?

    If you know of a site/host that has the UK version, please let me know, and thanks.

  3. January 27, 2011 11:30 am

    Sounds more like Kevin Williamson syndrome to me.

  4. January 27, 2011 11:54 am

    I freaking LOVED undressed. I found a site a few months ago that had a bunch of the episodes available for streaming and got stuck watching for a few hours.

  5. aliciamaud permalink
    January 27, 2011 12:08 pm

    Netflix has the UK Skins on instant…that’s how I’ve been watching. (At least they did about 2 weeks ago…)

  6. January 27, 2011 1:11 pm

    @Snarky’s: If it were Kevin Williamson, this would be a whole lot more entertaining and a whole lot more believable. The style wants to be there but the sense of logic and plot really aren’t so much.

  7. January 27, 2011 1:14 pm

    @tony “Undressed” kinda flew under the radar to a degree when it aired, and I never knew exactly why. Maybe MTV was afraid of promoting it the way they did “Real World” and “Road Rules?” As an anthology series, it had hit or miss qualities from week to week, but it definitely was several notches above “Skins,” even on its worst episode!

  8. January 27, 2011 1:17 pm

    @alicia Yet another reason for me to get Netflix!

  9. January 27, 2011 8:22 pm

    @Snarky’s: If it were Kevin Williamson, this would be a whole lot more entertaining and a whole lot more believable. The style wants to be there but the sense of logic and plot really aren’t so much.

    Doubtful. They’re both pretty corny.

  10. unscrambled permalink
    January 28, 2011 9:17 am

    “The patter is so distracting that the story narrative really doesn’t matter. ”

    I totally agree with this, but am always half-thinking—is that the point? That there is no narrative meaning for writers from the DS school, that truly the patter is the point of it?

    That’s frigging sad.

  11. January 29, 2011 2:31 pm

    unscrambled, I tend to agree! People try to hide lack of plot/story engagement behind witty banter and it shows, big time, especially in the current WAVE of US adaptations of UK shows, where a lot of the goodies get stripped out and we’re left with sexed-up dreck.

  12. Claire permalink
    January 30, 2011 9:36 pm

    @NYCPenpusher all of UK Skins is on Youtube. Sometimes you’ll have to go a couple of different channels/users to get all the pieces of an episode, but its all there.

  13. Monte permalink
    February 1, 2011 10:02 pm

    This writer overstates his case. sounds like you have not watched the show at all. why so much bandwidth on something you don’t like.

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