Why bother watching television if its just going to make you feel like crap? I spent most of New Years Day laying on the couch, watching the show Skins (original British version). Normally this would have made me feel great. If a show is intelligently constructed, watching it can be like visiting another world without having to move your body or spend any money. Up until New Years Day I would have said that Skins is a place worth visiting. But today, I’d say something nasty instead. I gave that show countless hours of my life, and it totally let me down.

Skins is a drama about a group of teenagers living in Bristol, England. The show portrays them doing drugs and falling in love and dealing with their parents and trying to be good people. Each episode centers around one of the kids in the gang of friends, and the production of the episode seems designed to portray that particular character’s percpective. It’s really cool. The writing and they styling have made me feel especially close to the characters on the show. It’s kind of fun to be inside the head of a 16 year old again, especially one who does all the dirty things I never did at that age.

So, picture me there on the couch on New Year’s Day, eating canned peaches, watching the fourth season of the show; getting excited about Emily and Naomi’s love story, worrying about Effy’s mental breakdown, wondering if Cook is ever going to stop being such a loser. Beautiful Effy has been institutionalized for a psychotic break, and she is seeing a therapist who really seems to be helping her out. Effy is not a very trusting person, but it looks like Dr. Foster is helping her learn how to open up a bit. At the very end of the eighth episode, with only one more show to go before the kids graduate highschool and move away (to be replaced next season by a new group of characters), Dr. Foster invites Effy’s boyfriend to his office for a chat about Effy. Suddenly, Dr. Foster takes out a baseball bat, scary music starts up, and Dr. Foster beats the boyfriend to death. And that’s pretty much the end of the series. It seemed like someone had kidnapped the show and taken it for a drunken joyride. It was just stupid. It didn’t make any f—ing sense.

One thing I didn’t mention is that the show is written by 18 year olds. There are two head writers and then a crew of young people who help build the stories. And for the first three seasons, this seemed like a brilliant formula. What happened? This group of people invented a world, and asked me to believe in it, and to care about these imaginary people and their situations, and I did. Then they took the world that I believed in, laid a big turd on its face, and ran away. The writing had the feeling of when you haven’t completed an essay for school, and so you hand in some nonsense scribbled on a piece of paper in the car on the way to school. They gave the impression, by treating the story so carelessly, that none of it actually meant anything to begin with. It’s painful. Maybe I’m a fool for having ever believed in the first place.

January 4, 2012

  1. aggle

    Oh season 4 was horrible, season 5 with the new cast semi redeemed the series. Season 4 should definitely come with a warning, I tell everyone not to watch it.

  2. vicky

    “Dr. Foster invites Effy’s boyfriend to his office for a chat about Effy. Suddenly, Dr. Foster takes out a baseball bat, scary music starts up, and Dr. Foster beats the boyfriend to death. And that’s pretty much the end of the series.”

    I loved the 3rd season, mainly for Naomily, and then I stopped watching very shortly after starting the 4th season because their relationship became so depressing, so dark. It didn’t make sense, the leap.

    But wow. Now I feel ok that I didn’t continue it, but really sad for it. Ugh.

  3. Khaela

    Okay, so we seem to have established that it is worthwhile to keep on believing in made-up worlds, but that we need to look out for each other and be generous with our knowledge about which ones are worth the time spent on the couch and which ones are will only hurt us in the end.

  4. Jackson

    You’re so right. The end of season 4 pretty much ruined the show for me. They way they treated Freddie was just ridiculous. It totally poisoned the show for me from then on. I tried watching season 5, hoping it would somehow redeem itself, but it really didn’t. I’ll probably try to watch season 6, but we’ll see.

    Skins is/was a fantastic show, and it’s no wonder the US was tempted to remake it. I never imagined it would be able to hold a candle to the original UK version.

    BTW, I love your music.


  5. John Weeks

    Y’know, you are such an engaging writer. I really wish you would up your output.
    This essay (?) almost allows me to speak authoritatively about a show I’ve never seen. Very few people can do that in four paragraphs.
    To be fair, waiting for your monthly tidbit has become a little ritual for me; one of the few I allow myself. maybe it would diminish me to have too much of your writing….
    Take care.

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