Chris Leary reviews Skins
Anticipating the televisual delights promised by all the promos of the new teen drama from E4 (the yoof digital channel from Channel 4), I sat down in front of the telly with my tin of cider. By the half way point I was curled up in a ball, knawing away at my fist in terror and fright, and at some point near the end, I just couldn't take it anymore and switched over to a repeat of Most Haunted.
The trailers for Skins promised a wicked concoction of Hollyoaks and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Perhaps I should have known better. After all I do absolutely hate Hollyoaks, which like most soap operas (Eastenders and Corrie excepted) is based in a bubble of middle class life.
Most drama is supposed to be a flight of fancy but Skins claims to be actually based upon real life - as if all teenagers handle unpaid-for drugs and have the mafia on their backs - and yet it all ends in hilarious consequences. No, no it doesn't. Don't pay for drugs? You get shot. As if white middle class teenagers would go near Mr Big. They'd probably just get on the phone to their deelah. They would go nowhere near guns.
So not only is Skins as flat as Norfolk it's also a gigantic lie. This is not what teenage life is about. Even when you take into account that it is just a drama it's still rubbish. I wasnÕt expecting Ken Loach's take on modern teenage life but Skins is just one flight of fancy too far.
I wouldn't be surprised if the commissioning meeting for Skins went something like this:
Exec 1: Guys, guys, we need a new yoof programme, yeah? Something the kids will watch, that's hip, that's now.
Exec 2: Well, we need some eye candy...
Exec 1: OK, OK, hot teenagers, right. I think we have some left over from Hollyoaks. Should we put a story line about drugs in there?
Exec 3: Oh, yes, of course, Tarquin. The kids are all on drugs.
Exec 2: And joyriding, of course. And happy-slapping...
Exec 1: Oh, keep up, happy slapping is sooooo last year...
Exec 2: Look, I think weÕve got it sorted. Who's up for lunch?
It's a shame because they said it was from "the people who made Shameless". That could mean anything of course (same production company, same director, same writer, same channel, same make up artist...) but Shameless is a masterstroke of comedy and drama. It accurately represents the people it claims to represent. It says it's set in Manchester and you can tell it's set in Manchester. It's excellent. It's genius. Skins is not.
Fortunately, next Thursday night I have an appointment to have hot needles stuck in my eyes which, compared to watching Skins again, is a rather appealing prospect.