Monday 23 January 2012

Why I Love Skins...(or where I go a bit fangirl on your ass)

First off, apologies to anyone reading this who

a) doesn't have the foggiest what this 'skins' thing I write about is
b) who hates skins with a passion (but I guess you wouldn't have clicked on the link anyway, so I'm addressing this one to thin air)

Well, Skins in a British TV show about a group of teenagers residing in the lovely city of Bristol. It contains mucho sex, drugs, general naughtiness and it goes without saying that I LOVE IT.  It started in 2007 and is now about to air it's 6th series. You can get a bit more of a back story here. Needless to say, it's pretty damn good and, in my opinion, essential viewing for anyone who writes/loves contemporary YA.

It's unique structure, in which the cast iS changed every two series, has been praised/critisised/attacked with crazed vitriol, but it has made sure it has stayed fresh and noticed.

For me, in the context of writing YA, well, I wouldn't be if it wasn't for this TV show. Some of the first stories I developed stemmed from me attempting to think up a new, hypothetical cast and story lines for the show. Everything about it, the writing (definitely the writing), the acting, the photography, the way it uses music, just send shivers down my spine.

Now, I may not be it's target audience. The great stand-up and occasional Skins supporting actor, Chris Addison, recently said that Skins is only for teenagers. As much as I think he's a bit of a dude in every other respect, I am living testament to the fact that he is wrong on this count. I'm sure I'm not the only *cough* early thirty-something *cough* who can't get enough of it. I'm certain the fact that I read and write YA is a clear indication that a small/large part of personality has clung onto the seventeen-year-old mentality and refused to shake it off. Why have I become so obsessed with this show? Well, my theory is that when the first series was broadcast, I had just given birth to my first born. I have vivid memories of being heavily pregnant and not being able to switch on the telly without 'Standing in the Way of Control' shouting out at me. And, consequently, me pouring scorn over trendy looking try-hard trailer in my overly-hormonal state.
Well, I missed the first episode. Probably something to do with new-baby-woolly-head (it's a recognised condition - look it up), BUT I was intrigued enough to tune into the next one, focusing on the troubled Cassie. And from the moment we see her drifting down the college corridor, walking her fingers along the handrail, I was properly, utterly HOOKED. I think realising that that stage of my life was well and truly over made me want to cling onto this fantasy version even more.

Well, enough of the cod-psychology bollocks. Here's my top things about SKINS -


I never come across a TV show that uses music to such brilliant dramatic effect. Not just in terms of a well chosen soundtrack, but inspired musical set-pieces that move the story along and make us love the characters even more. So many, many to choose from (Cook doing Barry Manilow, JJ and his Ukelele Orchestra), most, unfortunately not on YouTube, so I'll give you the classic climax to the first series...*hits massive gong* WARNING, SPOILERS!


Yes, we all know the magnificence of YA rests on the shoulders of the characters and this is no different. And what set we've had. I won't go into details on all of them, but my faves have been (in no particular order) (actually, in a sort of chronological order) Sid, Chris, Effy, JJ, Naomi, Alo & Mini. BUT my all time, top Skins bloke has to be COOK. Because, well, HE'S COOK!
And most of them are pretty easy on the eye too.


Ok, ok, so, it's not necessarily a completely realistic portrayl of teenage life. I, for one, never partook in a granny steeple chase or attacked my frenemy with a rock to the noggin. Or, ahem, other stuff. But what it does do is so completely articulate specific emotions without patronising, whether it be getting your heart blown into smithereens, falling for the wrong person or the acute pain of friendship. The unique structure of the series, where most episodes focus on a particular character make the viewing experience so much more intense. More favourites, this time episodes -

Series 1 - Chris, Effy, The Finale
Series 2 - Sid (Just one hour of some of the finest TV you will ever witness), Effy
Series 3 - Thomas, Naomi, JJ, The Finale
Series 4 - Emily, Freddie, JJ (I think this one has to be my top pick - it has everything)
Series 5 - Alo

I have to admit, I'm a Gen 2 girl. Series 3 was just brilliant. It finds it's feet - just a little bit more outrageous, intense and beautiful. Here's a great fan vid I found today that sums it up - *hits even bigger gong marked 'SPOILERS'*

Series 5 came under a bit of stick - I have to say, I thought it played it a bit safe, but it still had moments of genius, and Series 6 looks pretty bloody amazing. I will be tuning in in, oh, just under an hour. And I hope you will be too...

And on a more literary note, I'll be doing a double review of the Skins Gen 2 and Gen 3 novels at some point in the not too distant future. Watch this space...


  1. Oh Anna, I could kiss your brain!
    I love this post so much. ALMOST as much as I love Skins... but not quite. ;-)

    I only ever watched the first gen because it was out when I was 17-18 and it felt like I was part of their gang (although I wouldn't have been allowed to join them because I'm not nearly cool enough and also I would have found it difficult to talk in front of Tony).

    It felt weird to watch the other series because I didn't think it could be the same but you've convinced me to definitely give them a go. This Cook chap sounds intriguing.

    By the by, I still can't hear 'Hometown Glory' without sobbing like a small child. And I wasn't/not even pregnant! What's my excuse?

    F*ck it for Chris!

  2. Awwww, thanks! I'm glad you liked it. Yes, Cook, is very, um, intriguing... I URGE you to watch past Series 2!

    Such a shame 'Hometown Glory' wasn't on the DVD version - and yes, I blub too.

    F*ck it for Chris, indeed!