Monday 2 September 2013

Farewell Skins...My Thoughts on the Final Series

I haven't written this yet (obviously) but I'm going to go ahead and say that this will probably contain many, many spoilers so if you haven't seen any of Skins series 7 yet, I would go and watch it first. Or not, it's up to you. If you like spoilers, then reading this post might help you make up you mind whether you want to watch it or not. Anyway, the choice is yours...

Many moons ago (about 18 months or so), I wrote a post just before series 6 was screened about how much I love Skins and how it's once of the few things that makes me go a bit fangirly. My original point still applies. I'm definitely not it's target audience, but I do enjoy and appreciate good writing for and about teenagers, and Skins has always come under this general YA-ish umbrella. In fact, it was this TV show and not a book that first got me back into reading and wanting to write YA, so I hold it in great affection. When I first heard the details of this final series, I was intrigued. Perhaps a bit excited. Ok, very excited. I mean, Cook was back. COOK. My favourite of all the characters. And Cassie...oh, like,WOW...

One of the great things about Skins is that it always tries new things, and part of it's charm is that it doesn't always pull it off, but when it does, it's pretty much guaranteed I'll being watching it on repeat for years and years to come. So is the magic back? Well....

Cassie (Hannah Murray), Effy (Kaya Scoderlario) & Cook (Jack O'Connell) in 'Skins'

I saw plenty of stuff on twitter about how much people hated these episodes because they weren't 'Skins' and I guess by that they meant they weren't about going out on the lash, having inappropriate sex and odd but brilliant song numbers. Ok, all this was a large part of Skins, but this only worked because the great writing. So these were just as watchable because of the same reasons, yes? Erm perhaps not.

I'm all for depressing drama. I love a good Channel 4 grim-fest as much as the next person and these were certainly bleak in places. But a lot of the time I was just left wondering why they'd bothered. Skins was great at cliffhangers, but why bring these characters back if you're not going answer any questions? Just leave it at the excellent cliffhangers and be done with it. Effy's story in particular annoyed me. She was such a key part of the programme with some particularly dramatic story lines but to have no mention of them whatsoever just felt like they were cutting off their nose to spite there face. Ok, so people move on with their lives and change etc etc, but put into that character's context that doesn't necessarily mean it will make a more interesting story. And since when has Skins ever been about realism? (Hello Series 4). The weird inclusion of Naomi and Emily was just that. Weird. Ok, there's no reason why Effy and Naomi wouldn't become good friends after a certain period of time, but there's no reason why they would either. These characters had very little back story together and the cynical bit of my brain was left with the impression they they were only included to satisfy the legion of fans who would have rioted if they weren't. And let's not even get started on the story. Stock markets? Stock markets are boring. My opinion of them hasn't changed after watching these episodes.

And again with Cassie's story, it was all very pretty and they'd done a convincing job of evolving this character but it was just all a bit... why should I be interested in this story? She is doing nothing interesting. This does not interest me.

Cook's episodes were a better, mainly because something actually happened, but again, it just didn't pull me in like it used to. Saying that, there was one genuinely shocking, quite heart-breaking moment here that nearly made up for having to suffer the now-traditional inclusion of a Rubbish Skins Gangster with Hard to Pin Down Accent (see also series 3 and 6). Seriously, the Andrex puppy would have been scarier. It didn't help that I'd watched the excellent Southcliffe (also featuring a few Skins faces) just before seeing the last ever episode and this was an absolute masterclass in ramping up the tension. Even the most-nail biting of dramas would have looked laid back in comparison.

So am I glad they bought back Skins in this particular way? I would say on the whole, no. Although, one of the great things about Skins is it's willingness to try something different, and for that it should be applauded. Perhaps going over old ground would have been a mistake too. Or perhaps my expectations were too high. If I was watching these as standalone dramas, maybe I would have been more blown away.

For all it's faults, I'm going to miss Skins, but part of me is glad it's ended. So whatever future programmes are going to fill its rather sizeable boots, lets hope they're just as brave, memorable and fantastic as Skins was in it's heyday.

All together now...


  1. I stopped watching after the last ep we watched with Jo! I need to catch up but that episode broke me. Sid! His dad!

    1. *sobs* Maggie, you need to watch series 3 & 4!

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