Series One of Skins

There are TV shows that, if you just watch whatever episode happens to be on the air right now, might strike you as kind of gratuitous — but if you watch the episodes in sequence and in the right spirit, turn out to have literary depth. E.g. there are scenes in the seventh episode whose full impact depends on remembering a scene in the first episode that only lasted a few seconds, etc. And you end up as invested in the characters as you do when reading fiction.

“Skins” was created by Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain, a father-and-son TV writing team, which is interesting because the show’s treatment of teenager-parent relationships is one of its strengths. All the parents are grotesque yet vulnerable. From a parent’s perspective, the most frightening thing about Effie in Series One is not that she sneaks out every night, without her parents knowing, in order to take recreational drugs around people operating heavy machinery. What’s most frightening about her is that she never speaks.

Generally the show is clever at characterizing people by what they’re not doing. In the second episode, for example, Cassie never eats, even though she’s always toying with food, and seemingly about to eat – this becomes very attention-getting.

In this interview, Brittain says that “Series One was light,” although I would qualify this claim by saying that some of the later episodes in Series One are “light” the way David Lynch movies are “light.” But like a lot of writing I like, the series progresses from humorous to dark in an organic kind of way, so it has lots of humanity. By the end of the series, I was definitely rooting for Sid and Cassie to get together.

The Grinning in Your Paradise blog describes the first few series of “Skins” as “more-or-less what would happen if the best night out you ever had as a teenager, and the worst night out you ever had as a teenager, kept happening over and over again. Sometimes simultaneously.”

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  • Anonymous

    I think what is also very important about this show is that it comes around full circle. In the first several episodes of Season 1, we get the idea that Tony is a vapid and somewhat evil character, who cannot get close to people unless to do it in a calculated and manipulative manner. It's not until the last episode of Season 1 that we see that when he is with Effie, his love and protectiveness comes out. He covers for her (with her sock) when she sneaks out, and saves her life when life is no longer a game. It is dark and depressing, but, the writing reminds me of Seinfeld, where every episode answers itself and comes together in the end, when it seems as if it is just a compilation of random happenings at first. I think it's the making sense of it all, at the end, of these shows that make them so brilliant. With 'Skins' it's season by season, whereas with Seinfeld, it's episode by episode.