MTV’s new series Skins, an American remake of the drugs-and-sex-filled British series, has been declared by the Parents Television Council “the most dangerous television show for children” that they have ever seen. The New York Daily News quoted the PTC’s president Tim Winter: “The marketing campaign itself makes light of lying to parents and participating in all manner of harmful, irresponsible, illegal and adult-themed behavior.” But American parents should just be happy their kids aren’t watching the British version, because the material it contains is much “worse.”
What people often forget is that the show is not only named for the amount of nudity that was featured in the original (Dev Patel’s butt!) but also the English slang term for rolling papers. Imagine a show in the U.S. called Blunts or Dutch Mastersons. That would never fly.
The U.S. version also caught a some heat from replacing the gay character, Maxxie, with a lesbian cheerleader named Tea. Perez Hilton said he feels “as though this is another case of the U.S. unable to handle an honest depiction of a male gay teen character.” For once, the obnoxious Hilton is right.
In most ways, the pilot episode of the new show is directly ripped from the British version. And yet Gawker.TV said yesterday that the producers “couldn’t even be bothered to change inherently British phrases like ‘reckon.'” With this laziness at foot, it’s surprising that they bothered to take Maxxie out at all. It’s clearly a move signaling the network’s belief that the audience couldn’t handle a gay male character, who in the British version is just “one of the guys.”
The partying and drugs in Skins will be alluring, but will not have a large impact on American teens. The kids who want to be doing that will be doing it regardless and the kids who can’t find a way to find a six pack on a Saturday night still won’t be able to. TV is a fantasy and although kids may want to participate in that fantasy, the American teenage experience (football games and sitting in your best friend’s basement) will not quickly shift to the Skins-style teenage experience (raging on MDMA at a Crystal Castles concert).
When it comes to sex, are kids not already “doing it?” As MTV’s other shows, 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, have demonstrated, they definitely are. So don’t worry American parents — just be thankful your kids aren’t from England.