Skins USA: having a continental deja-vu

Skins

Whether you like the newest generation of Skins or not, cast your mind back to its 2007 neon-clad originals.

Don’t you remember Cadie, Stanley, Abbud, Eura? No: because the original cast has now been reinvented for American teenagers, premiering last month on US MTV.

Regurgitated is a more accurate description of Skins’ US rebirth. Cassie has now been cast as ‘Cadie’, Sid as ‘Stanley’, Effy as ‘Eura’ – and they didn’t even bother changing the names of Tony, Michelle and Chris. Skins was never a programme to be taken entirely seriously, but its regurgitation actually lends itself more to satire than teen drama.

It gets worse. The US pilot episode is a freakishly intentional replica of the UK version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyqBWtV_RvQ. Tap dancing is replaced with cheerleading, Bristol’s terraced houses become suburban streets, and ‘what’s the damage’ gets uttered in an American accent. And it sounds even more outdated than its painful, and thankfully, short-lived UK usage.

It’s not surprising that the programme doesn’t seem to be to the States’ liking. The pilot had 3.26m viewers, and since then viewing numbers have gradually dropped to 0.97m. Maybe the show and its British style is impossible to successfully translate into Americanisms, or the storylines are just ‘so 2007’. Or maybe parents are stopping their under 18’s watching it. The Parents Television Council (yes, it’s a real thing) wanted to bring a child pornography charge against the US Series: who ever said that Brits were the prudish ones?

In the UK, viewers have been gradually increasing to a stable million for the average episode, with Series Three and Four (the Effy/Freddie generation) proving the most popular. The latest has taken a dip, maybe thanks to a sense of try-hard diversity. Over the past four years Skins has covered issues of sexuality, race, gender equality, substance abuse, mental health…now entering its fifth Series, scriptwriters seem to be running out of semi-realistic adolescent plotlines.

Even the characters’ names have gone beyond belief – Mini McGuinness, Aloysius Creevey. Maybe it’s time to follow some of the characters past Sixth Form onto (un)employment or university life – if only to get its middle-aged producers to give our generation some newly exaggerated stereotypes to rip apart.

For more laughs at Skins’ US counterparts, take a look at their character profile trailers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evadjaiLQkQ

Image- Channel 4