It should have been a monster hit. MTV, the king of morally questionable television, was making a US version of Skins. This notorious UK drama features hot young teenagers indulging in alcohol, intoxicants, and orifices. MTV even had Bryan Elsley, the creator of the original show. With a huge promotional campaign, the American Skins premiered on January 17 with 3.26 million viewers.
Then it all went to shit. On June 9, MTV put the show out of its misery stating “Skins is a global television phenomenon that, unfortunately, didn’t connect with a US audience as much as we had hoped.” And if you believe that, I got some land down in Florida that I can sell to you real cheap. Let’s have a look at how MTV fucked up a hot show about hot teenagers doing hot things.
[ad#longpost]More of the same: The thing to understand about the British version is that it is quite raunchy. Foul language, naked people, and sex. Lots and lots of sex. But this is a bait and switch. The sex and rude behavior gets you watching initially, but the decent writing and acting keep you tuning in every week. So when it was remade for Americans and our delicate sensibilities, it was toned WAY down. In fact, it was down about to the level of other MTV shows like Jersey Shore and Real World 25..50…10,000 whatever. Which means plenty of bad behavior but nowhere near the level of explicitness. The best you can expect is some lumps under a blanket shot with a night vision camera. Without a decent lure, less people tuned in and the writing quality did not keep the audience that did try it out.
Original Recipe: I checked and the first three seasons (or series as the Brits call them) are available on Netflix Instant Watch. So the US version not only has to compete with the other shows on MTV, it has to compete with the original and better British version.
Crying Wolf: Usually when the watchdog group, the Parents Television Council, condemns a show, that is a sign that it is interesting or at least titillating. The modern version of Banned In Boston, if you will. They would much prefer television where father knew best, blacks knew their place, and homosexuals were used to frighten small children. However, this time they went a little further. They charged that Skins was child pornography. They even sent a request to the Department of Justice to investigate and smite these evildoers. You see, instead of using 35-year-olds to depict 17-year-olds, Skins uses actors the same age as their characters. This means that these kids are in sexual situations. But I already mentioned that these situations were much less sordid than other MTV shows. On top of that, Skins was being produced in Canada and their child protection laws are somewhat more sane than the ones we have here. Ultimately, nothing came of this as there was no real violation of the law or the actors. But that didn’t stop advertisers from running for the hills when the “child porn” charge was uttered. What’s worse, MTV did next to nothing to combat this. Wimps.
Let this be a warning to MTV and other networks. If you are going to do a show about sexy teenagers, you are going to have to show those teenagers having sex. People can get that sort of thing from multiple sources. If you don’t fully commit, you just come across like some old guy trying desperately to stay hip.