Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Skins: Volume 1

Because Skins is a show about oversexed, hard-partying teenagers who spend their days taking drugs and screwing around—sometimes with their teachers—a large part of its appeal derives from its sensationalism. Each episode is dosed with liberal amounts of nudity and profanity, and each deals with hot-button issues: eating disorders, homosexuality, drug abuse, religious intolerance, and so forth. On a fundamental level, Skins is one long "Boy, these kids today!" rant, and as with most rants of that kind, it secretly wants the audience to groove on its voyeuristic pleasures whilst clucking their tongues.

But while Skins is sometimes gritty, it's never dreary—not even when venturing deep into the delusions of an air-headed anorexic, or exploring the developing wedge between a gay teen and his increasingly intolerant Muslim best friend (played by Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel). More often than not, the show sticks to the comic side of being young and feeling indestructible, whether that involves fleeing a trashed mini-mansion one step ahead of angry parents, or getting fleeced by the locals during a class trip to Russia. It also gets a lot of mileage from its chief protagonist/antagonist, an über-popular kid (About A Boy's Nicholas Hoult) who manipulates his insecure girlfriend and virginal best friend for his own private amusement.

On top of all that, Skins is noteworthy for its structure, which threads one master plot—involving Hoult's comeuppance and the maturation of his best friend, played by the remarkable Mike Bailey—through standalone episodes that cover the individual tribulations of each of the show's main characters. As intimately involved as these kids are with each other, they're also young and narcissistic, and thus assume that they're the only ones really suffering, while their friends must all have great home lives. There have been few TV series as knowing about how adolescents can feel so lonely while surrounded by friends.


Key features: In-character video diaries and deleted sequences are fine, but this DVDs most important special feature is the episodes themselves—uncut, for a change.

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