I will fully admit I am a television addict. I love the joy of finding a new show to immerse myself in, the detective work that comes with working out the plot, the bizarre emotional connection you get to fictional characters and the anticipation of the next episode or season. From fantasy shows set around a family of New Zealanders who also happen to be Norse gods to sitcoms about the parks and recreation department of Pawnee, I’ll watch it all. However, there’s one show I will always come back to; Skins.
If you haven’t heard of Skins, it’s a British drama set in Bristol that follows a group of teenagers in their last two years of school. It first aired in 2007, with the cast changing every two series and ended in 2013 with a one off series bringing back characters from the past generations, showing them in adult life.
I was only 13 when the first series started but because I have a mum as cool as Regina George’s, I was allowed to watch it. It opened me up to a world of partying, drugs and sexuality. While I knew some of it was exaggerated, what struck me was that some of the situations and problems they were dealing with were something that could affect me in the near future. The actors are actually age appropriate and not in their twenties for a change, it gives the show a completely realistic feel. It isn’t all about the teenagers though. Parents, teachers and the like are played by some great British actors. While most think of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, I can only see him as Mark Jenkins, Sid’s foul-mouthed father.
The characters are fully rounded and you can often find yourself picking traits in them that you have yourself. Some appear a tad stereotypical on the surface, a speccy nerd who follows his best friend like a side kick or a metalhead who isn’t the most friendly but with each character getting their own episode, you’ll soon discover that stereotypes aren’t everything. The writing will make you love them, hate them and back again. Online, especially when you get into tumblr territory (find my own Skins tumblr here) you’ll see a lot of debates on favourite characters. While some can sympathise with a character, others are quite ready to bring them down.
Plot wise, it packs a lot in. It deals with mental health from eating disorders to depression, drugs, grief, sexuality and religious beliefs clashing, falling in love, teenage pregnancy, crime, being adopted and how to get that darned history coursework in on time. There is something there for everyone. Plus with the cast changing every two series, you can see different backgrounds and perspectives on British teenage life. If you aren’t feeling one generation, there might be something for you in the next.
The other thing I loved about Skins was the soundtrack. I was and well probably still am a total indie kid. Skins introduced me to loads of bands and artists, with every episode featuring a lot of new talent. As well as new, they picked pop classics (Britney Spears = excellent car chase music) and soundtracked an entire episode with Debussy. The music choices are just as well thought out as the plot, with each moment musically glazed to perfection.
I don’t want to say anything more because I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of watching. Even after all these years and multiple rewatches later, I’ll never get sick of Skins. It’s TV at its best. Binge watch it. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll become a teenager all over again.