Saturday, November 9, 2013

Skins: a Drama Like No Other

Cassie in episode two
I guess I'm a sucker for British dramas. I was introduced to the hit E4 drama Skins through the blogging website, Tumblr, last year.  I admit, I watched it because Kaya Scodelario's beauty lured me to the show.

The first episode I watched was "Effy" from season two (2008).
I was surprised by the strong language, sexual content and teen drug use (probably why it's rated TV-MA). Effy (Scodelario), a girl in her mid teens is the central character for the episode. She is strikingly attractive and enters blowing smoke rings, a cigarette in her hand. Her brother, Tony (Nicholas Hoult, About A Boy, Warm Bodies), sits at their table. He is recovering from a bus accident and appears somewhat distant. She goes to school, is introduced to Pandora (Lisa Blackwell), who hangs around her for most of the remaining episode. Later, Effy goes with her new friend to buy drugs from Cassie (Hannah Murray, Chatroom), a friend of her brother. Cassie is a peculiar character, having a similar personality to Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter franchise. After getting what she needed, Effy then goes to a party, where Pandora takes drugs for the first time and ends up begin carried out of the facility by Tony.
Tony kisses Maxxie to "try something new"

I didn't realize that Skins is no ordinary television series. The cast is replaced biannually (with the exception of Kaya and Lisa). Each episode of the season focuses on a different member of the cast, still involving the others. The episode I saw was in the middle of the second season, so I had missed quite a bit about the first generation.

Effy approaches Cook
I turned to season one (2007), where Tony has not yet had his accident. He is the center of a group of friends that frequently smoke weed, go to parties and swear constantly. Among the cast is Jal (Larissa Wilson), a talented musician. Maxxie (Mitch Hewer), who is gay, is accepted by the group despite falling into a category with a large stigma. Sid (Mike Bailey), a bit of a deadbeat, is Tony's best friend, wearing glasses and a beanie. Cassie is anorexic but is able to pull off a facade to fool the others into thinking she is fine. Chris is a pill-popping student who has an attraction to his psychology instruction. Anwar is a Muslim, his beliefs often conflict with his good friendship with Maxxie. This leaves Michelle (April Pearson, Tormented), Tony's girlfriend, who she is often manipulated by.

When I finished the first and second season, I couldn't get enough of these characters. It was very hard indeed to accept the fact that the majority of them would leave Skins forever, passing the show on to supporting characters Effy and Pandora.
Naomi showing her charm

I was hesitant to start the new season, with a new generation (2009-2010), because the first two episodes were not as strong as most of generation one's. After the third episode, my mind changed.

Effy is mysterious and caught in a love triangle with Freddie and Cook. Katie and Emily Fitch (Megan and Kathryn Prescott) are identical on the outside, but far from the same on the inside. Naomi is struggling with her feelings. Cook is loud and obnoxious, scoring with Effy on episode one. JJ (Ollie Barberi) has high functioning autism but is very intelligent. Thomas has just immigrated, alone, from the Congo and is unfamiliar with Bristol. Pandora is still by Effy's side but continues to be very naïve.
Emily and Naomi make an unlikely pair

The characters from generation two ended up being just as preferable. The writing differed somewhat, tending to be more serious than generation two. As with generation three, I chose not to finish, as the new cast was not nearly as likable compared to the last four seasons.