Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Skins on MTV

So I thought watching Being Human was weird enough with basically the same characters from the original but with different names and doing different things. The American version of Skins though? Even weirder. It was kind of like watching a new production of a play you already know except some of the character's names have changed. This pilot is almost shot-for-shot the same as the original. It's WEIRD.

I do understand why MTV wanted to make an American version of Skins. Things in the UK were already more relaxed in terms of what kinds of stuff you can show on TV but Skins got a lot of buzz for showing all that sex and nudity and drugs in a show about teens. The actors were unknown teens themselves and even the writer's room was very young so it was supposed to be more realistic than other teen shows of the moment (like Gossip Girl). But...the original Skins is really, really British. The accents and slang sometimes make the dialogue almost unintelligible (when it aired on BBCAmerica there was a little suggestion before the show started to turn on your closed-captioning) and the kids do really British things, like make tea all the time and go to pub quiz and "revise" (study) for A-levels. But these were all things that could easily be translated into things that American audiences would identify with.

But what did they end up doing? They kept almost all the same characters (a few renamed) and kept almost the exact same script. Bizarre, especially since the premise of Skins is not at all dependent on the character roles...the British show actually turns over its entire main cast every 2 seasons. I guess they just didn't really care about the people who were fans of the original (which aired here on BBCAmerica)? But as one of those people, I just can't not make comparisons...

Plus, it doesn't help that the "Tony" episode of the original was not one of my favorites. So watching this American version was like watching an inferior rendition of something I wasn't a fan of in the first place. I didn't much like the actor playing Tony. In the original Nicholas Hoult is kind of magnetic...he's horrifyingly manipulative but you can see why people are drawn to him. Here, Tony is just a dick that I feel the tougher girls like Daisy and Tea (the only major difference in the cast...her character was originally a guy, Maxxie) wouldn't have any patience for. Stanley was just weak and forgettable (and I hate his hair) and the Cassie character (Cadie in this version) made no impression whatsoever, which I can't help being disappointed about since Cassie is one of my favorites (not just on the show but of all time!)

One of the most unique things about Skins is how flexible it is in its storytelling. Each episode focuses on just one character and the tone and music changes based on that. I really appreciate that they take a lot of risks in that regard and think there's just some really great filmmaking going on. I've read that at least 2 more episodes very closely track ones from the original so I assume they're at least going to try to carry that over.

So I'm curious enough to keep watching this for a few more episodes at least. And I mean, it's not like the original was perfect (see my reviews here and here) so there's a chance that when this version breaks away (which I hope it will) that it could improve on some of the mistakes of its predecessor. Maybe?

Oh and was Stanley eating poutine in the cafeteria? Is this supposed to be American or Canadian??

By the way, if you're curious about the original, the first two seasons are streaming on Netflix!

No comments: