Series Premiere: Skins – “Tony” and “Cassie”

“Tony” and “Cassie”

Season One, Episodes 1 & 2

It’s not abnormal for British series to be imported to the states these days: in fact, Showtime’s recently wrapped Secret Diary of a Call Girl was one example, having aired its entire first season in Britain before it started airing in North America. This presents the problem that the series is readily accessible to those who want to find it when it starts airing on a weekly basis here, and thus plenty of people who know how things turn out.

With Skins, two seasons are done before the series has stated airing, but BBC America intends on airing them back to back leading into this fall. I decided to give the show a shot since I figured there is always a place in my television rotation for a show about teenagers doing teenage things. I’m extremely excited that we’re only a week away from the return of ABC Family’s Greek, and this promised to be an edgier alternative.

And it certainly is edgy, putting Gossip Girl to shame in its frank depiction of this particular age segment. More importantly, though, it does something that neither Greek nor Gossip Girl has accomplished, viewing these characters through a lens that is actually unique and focused on character as opposed to sheer exploitation or, in Greek’s case, slightly sugar-coated ensemble plotting. The first two episodes of Skins’ first season feel almost entirely different because they are: they’re stories about two very different people, about two very different types of life which exist in this world.

So while the show is certainly not perfect, there is a definite sense that there is something to be offered here, and that this diverse group of young students exists not to offer a picture of diversity but rather to guarantee an actual diversity in narrative perspectives in the episodes to come.

This will be mostly brief since I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, but Skins works for me precisely because it isn’t afraid to spend a lot of time focusing on its characters that aren’t the traditional male/female lead. Cassie is, yes, a major character in both episodes, but it’s fascinating how marginal she can be in one episode to how fascinating she is in the next. Similarly, Tony goes from obnoxious jerk to a slightly less obnoxious jerk simply because we don’t have to see quite so much of him – there’s a near perspective thing going on there that has plenty of potential for the future as we see how each of these characters relate to one another’s lives.

We haven’t quite been given enough to work on some of the other characters, but one feels as if we are soon going to find out more. I’m a bit frustrated that the show seems so dead set on creating this world where everything is interconnected (That the head of Cassie’s clinic is the owner of the location of the first episode’s house party, or that Mad Twatter shows up at Cassie’s group, or that the teacher at the All Girls’ School is the husband of the exhibitionist who lives across from Tony), but if the show continues to expand its universe of characters I figure it could work out just fine.

And, clearly, it is on an upward swing – while “Tony” was scandalous and a good introduction of sorts, “Cassie” had that bloody brilliant (The British shows, they bring it out in me) sense of a dream state, of questioning what’s real and what’s not real while also being totally willing to have that dominate the episode. There’s something very charming about Cassie, and it’s hard not to fall in love with her after her lengthy and fantastic explanation of how she gets away with not eating (in combination with her totally disconnected from reality parental units).

So, overall, I’m impressed enough to keep going – in the meantime, anyone else watching or have already watched it?

2 Comments

Filed under Skins

2 responses to “Series Premiere: Skins – “Tony” and “Cassie”

  1. Chris

    Fully agreed. I’ve only seen the first two episodes and been very impressed. I look forward to seeing the rest!

  2. Pingback: Putting Skam into perspective: Narrative focus and Skam’s growing fandom | Cultural Learnings

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