We’re not gonna sugarcoat it — it’s been a rough week for Skins. The U.S. adaptation of the hit British show launches on January 17 and naysayers are sharpening their claws. It’ll never be as good/edgy/wild as the British show, they’re saying. The actors aren’t as good! Americans are too prudish! UK shows never translate! Why did they make it in the first place?!
Our response? Haters are gonna hate. We are so excited for Skins, we are counting down the days til it airs. Here are the reasons why we’ll be watching and why you should too:
1. America loves teen dramas. Some of the Skins criticism has been of the “not another teen drama” variety. To which we say — hell yes, this is another teen drama! America loves teen dramas — we are a nation that supports the existence of the CW for God’s sake — and we love them for good reason. High school is a golden time for bad decision-based entertainment. If the characters were any younger, we’d worry too much. On the other hand, there is no spectacle sadder than people in their twenties and thirties who keep partying way past their expiration date. Teenagers are right in that sweet spot and we love to watch them act their age.
2. Skins is a teen drama created by teens. Skins will rock the very crowded teen drama competition because of a very special ingredient: actual teenagers. We know that sounds totally soylent green but that’s not how we mean it. We’re just saying that Skins has a creative team younger than any show on television. None of the actors can legally drink yet and the writers aren’t much older — most of them are still in college — and the show snaps with their raw enthusiasm. In addition, all Skins scripts are subject to the approval of a very special team of authenticity consultants — a crew composed of real-life teenagers.
3. The Skins team knows what it’s doing. The kids who make Skins do excellent work but they’re not running the whole show — the original Skins’ UK team is calling the shots and this ain’t their first time at the rodeo. Series creator Bryan Elsley has launched three different Skins “generations” at home and knows how to do the job right. Elsley had originally planned on hiring a US producer to oversee Skins. But after interviewing several candidates, he decided that he’d have to do it himself as there was no person better qualified to bring the world of teens, drugs, and angst to America.
4. Skins is airing on MTV Some of the Skins US concerns stem from cultural differences in decency standards — in other words, Skins is going to be way too scandalous for our Puritan eyes. In the UK, the Skins team was told that there were just two words that they absolutely could not say on television. American media is considerably pruder — who can forget the hoopla after that infamous Janet-Justin Superbowl performance? (Seriously, who can forget it? We’d like to know how.) But never fear Skins US fans! MTV is the best place on television right now for airing Skins shenanigans. This is the network that brings us the drunken debauchery of Jersey Shore every Thursday night! MTV promises to give the show a proper TV-MA rating and air it in the nudity-friendly 10:00 PM slot.
5. Skins is going to be a clearinghouse for new talent. Skins is an awesome TV show that brings us all the piping hot drama we can handle but it also provides training and exposure for new talent. Everyone knows the original UK cast included Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man) and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) but Skins has also developed some serious behind-the-scenes artists. Major bands such as The Gossip got their first major break on the show. Comedian Simon Amstell penned his first TV episode for Skins before writing his own sitcom Grandma’s House. The US show is already following in this tradition; Skins has held contests for undiscovered stylists, musicians and photographers. We’ll tune in to see tomorrow's media superstars today so we can smugly say that we knew them way back when.
6. Not all UK to US Adaptations Suck. During last week’s scrum of negative publicity, Skins was compared to many British shows that failed to successfully leap the pond. Coupling anyone? No? But for every Viva Laughlin! that failed to catch on Stateside, there’s been a The Office, proving that some beloved British shows thrive after immigrating.
7. Skins UK needed some edits anyway. Some of the Skins US criticism seems to stem from loyalty to the British version. We understand the love but we think it has to be said: Skins UK was not a perfect show and adapting it is not sacrilegious. In fact, we can’t wait to see what the Skins team decides to fix! So far, the biggest change from Skins UK to Skins US has been the axing of Maxxie and we think it bodes well. We loved Maxxie, the UK’s pretty, blonde, tap-dancing gay boy, which is why it pained us when Maxxie didn’t develop beyond the pretty, blonde, tap-dancing gay boy! The rest of the characters gained depth as the series continued but poor Maxxie continued to be a foil for other people’s plots. In the US show, Maxxie has become Tea, a Latina lesbian cheerleader tough enough to challenge Tony and get some frickin’ character development. This is good news — if the Skins team was able to look at their beloved original show with an eye critical enough to cut and remake a major character, they should be able to improve on Skins: Original Flavor in other ways as well.
8. We need some new water-cooler conversation starters. Whether you love it or hate it, everyone is going to be talking about Skins. Do you remember when you didn’t know what a Snooki was? We do, vaguely. We remember seeing commercials for a new series called Jersey Shore and being like, what is this and who would watch it? Fast forward two years and we have our answer: everyone. It’s become such a cultural phenomenon that sometimes we tune in just to prepare for the next day’s small talk. We think Skins is going to have similar pop-culture talking-point power.
9. Anyone who has seen Skins US likes it. Right now, a lot of the Skins noise is pregaming — people who haven't seen the show are speculating on whether or not it will suck. The good news is that those who actually have seen it are all on board. Last month, some lucky fans were treated to preview episodes and they loved it — livejournal user Pastelward was "99.9% positive MTV has a hit on their hands." Heather Hogan at After Ellenhas also seen the show and says “I am astonished to say that Bryan Elsley & Co. have managed the impossible. US Skins is a blaze of heat and heart, a skilled harmony of pathos and peculiarity. It does its predecessor proud.”
10. Skins is going to be so much fun. For all of the controversy, Skins is just a show about being young — having a killer playlist, gorgeous clothes, awesome friends, and serious drama. Nothing makes for better TV and Skins US is going to be a damn good time.