Watch the Original "Skins" Before the American Version Debuts

Slate's guide to consuming culture.
Dec. 20 2010 2:01 PM

Watch the Original "Skins" Before the American Version Debuts

From time to time, a Slate staffer or critic offers up a favorite cultural pick for Procrastinate Better readers. Today's endorsement is from Slate technology columnist Farhad Manjoo .

For the last few months MTV has been heavily promoting Skins , its upcoming show about high school kids, trippy drugs, trippier sex, and—if the trailers are any indication— much-too trippy camera work . The show will only begin to air in late January, but it’s already attracted a crowd of detractors —cultists who are worried that MTV will ruin the good name of the original British Skins , which has been running since 2007.

/blogs/procrastinatebetter/2010/12/20/watch_the_original_skins_before_the_american_version_debuts/jcr:content/body/slate_image
Advertisement

They’re right to worry. The original Skins is thrilling mainly for the surreal touch it brings to a very particular culture: The world of drug-addled, parentally neglected middle-class kids in Bristol. Skins follows in the long tradition of high-school dramas populated by kids who are far wittier than adults, and who do things that actual high school kids would never do (see Dawson’s Creek or Gilmore Girls ) but its real genius is in taking that convention way over the line of realism. The kids of Skins don’t just act like adults, they act like adults in madcap heist movies. Conventional teen problems—romantic hardships, sex obsession, eating disorders, more sex obsession—are joined by completely off-the-wall scenarios: There are stalkers, kidnappers, rampaging drug dealers, Eastern European strongmen, parents who disappear, teachers who sleep with kids whose parents disappear, and kids who get hit by busses out of the blue.

This sounds ridiculous, and often it is. (Though hilariously so. The second season begins with the kids performing a musical about 9/11 whose central lyric will stay with you for days: "Then came the day Osama blew us away…") But occasionally Skins ’ absurdity gives way to deep, touching moments that underline the true difficulties of being in high-school; it’s these moments that make the show unavoidably addictive. I don’t have high hopes that MTV can replicate that joy in the American edition, but that shouldn’t matter—the original Skins is available on DVD and instantly on Netflix . Watch it.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.