Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013 4:56:17 AM
I lay back and grab the remote from my step-dad’s ottoman. The TV turns on with a flicker of LCD static. My feet rest plainly on top of the coffee table. He hates when I put my shoes on his furniture, but I’m not thinking. I am immersed in a pool of teenagedom, beautifully polluted with the throngs of naivete: drugs, sex, music, hormones, and anxiety. I swim around for awhile, embrace my surroundings. I find all kinds of people. Closeted homosexuals, religious fundamentalist, anorexics, manipulators, drug addicts, struggling academics, sluts, alcoholics, thugs, and scam artists, all stumbling through the arid dunes of adolescence.
Skins UK rightfully embraces these archetypes of the adolescent world. The series is categorically separated into 3 “generations” of friends in their 2 years of “6th form” in Bristol, England. The show emphasizes the massive changes and coping mechanisms that people go through in their late teens as they prepare for the university and the real world. But rather than restricting the characters to single stereotypical ideas, the producers strive to punch each character with as much chaotic complexity as they can. Like a fraying fabric that refuses to stay in one piece, more and more of the story is filled in with every episode. Simultaneously, more holes emerge as the characters a redefined on increasingly deeper levels of discussion. The lives of Cassie, Cook, Effie, Tony, Sid and many other central characters are inherently real and forever in motion, never getting a break from their peers, from their parents, from their drug dealers and teachers. It feels so painfully tangible to me. As Robert Lloyd of the LA Times put it, “Even as Skins strains credibility, it achieves moments of poetry.”
My admiration for Skins, however, is not only in it’s complex character base. The foundation of the series (and my praise) is rooted in the overshadowing teenage paradox: that while we destroy our lives with experimentation and the fervor of youth, we simultaneously create and set the foundations for our future. I think that’s an important encompassing statement, especially in a modern era as convoluted as ours. It is in this paradox that boys and girls become men and women. And it is in this paradox that all the archetypes of life have the opportunity to collide in the slowest and most beautiful train wreck I have ever seen, Skins UK.