'Skins' season finale: When controversy's not enough to carry a show

skins

Many moons ago, it seemed like everyone on the Internet was clucking about Skins, MTV’s adaptation of a beloved British show that dramatizes the lives of teenagers gone wild. There was drug use! There was cursing! There was child porn, maybe-okay-not-really! As word of the series’s scandalous content spread far and wide, advertisers began to pull out of the show faster than you can say “She’s Too Young” — which only stoked the virtual fire.

But then a curious thing happened: Ratings for the teen drama’s second episode, which aired January 24, dropped sharply from 3.3 million viewers to 1.6 million viewers. In later weeks, that number got lower still… and subsequently, people stopped talking about Skins. Chances are that you had no idea the show’s season — and possibly series — finale aired last night.

So why did Skins start with a bang and end with a whimper? Well, if the finale episode, “Eura,” is any indication, the reason is simple: The show is just not very good. Granted, I haven’t seen every episode of this version of Skins, so I couldn’t fully appreciate the impact of plot strands wrapping up and characters reconciling in the season’s last episode. But even so, I do know that any show that forces an actress to deadpan lines like “You sure put a lot of time into that boy, and he put a lot of his penis into you” without a hint of irony is not at the top of its game.

While watching “Eura,” I wasn’t shocked by the amount of skin on display. Instead, I was fighting to keep my eyes open through scene after scene of pretty, blank-faced young people staring meaningfully at each other and speaking each of their lines in the same affect-less tone. In their rush to make something controversial and zeitgeisty, MTV forgot to create characters with personality—and all the lurid storylines in the world can’t make a series successful if viewers can’t be bothered to care about the people they’re watching. Near the end of the episode, one character’s father said something that really resonated: “You’re boring me with this sh–. Yeah. And, uh, that about covers it.” You’re telling me, buddy.

PopWatchers, will any of you take to the comments to defend the show? Or do you, like me, think MTV’s Skins plays like Gossip Girl‘s sullen suburban cousin? And finally, if an 11th grader takes off her shirt and crawls into the hospital bed of her sleeping ladylove and no one is around to see her, does she make a sound?

Comments (113 total) Add your comment
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  • Mr. Holloway

    The controversy was actually the best thing that happened to this “Skins”: for a while there, it brought attention to what was truly a terrible show.

    That’s why I’m always baffled when groups like the PTC start clucking about “controversial” content on shows like “Skins.” They don’t seem to realize that these shows WANT to generate attention because there’s really not that much to them otherwise.

    • Roku

      I was curious to see “Skins,” but I gave up after 2 episodes. I couldn’t care less about any of the characters. “Degrassi” hits many controversial subjects (drugs, depression, teen sex & pregnancy, sexual identity), but the characters are likeable and interesting, so I want to see what happens next. Yes, I know: “Degrassi” is a bit slick and soapy, but so what? It’s entertaining, which is something “Skins” never was.

      • Elie

        I think you nailed it Roku – very hard to care about these kids. It may have been the actors – they all seemed like they were so self conscious and trying so hard to come off ‘cool’, but they couldnt pull it off – maybe it was the writing – anyway, you have to care about characters or they have to spark your imagination in some way – just didnt care.

      • walt kovacs

        the simple problem with the show is that the producer and writers were lazy

        skins uk could not transfer to the us

        us teens experience life differently than uk teens

        it also didnt help that they hired kids who simply cannot act

        the uk version did the right thing…they made sure that their lead actor had experience that the others could feed off of…it worked

        this show will not be back for a second season

    • Michael

      Seriously, it’s a horrible show. And not just all the “bad stuff,” but as a TV show, it’s just horrible, the writing, the acting, etc., bad, bad, bad.

  • Chelsea

    The so-called controversial nature of the MTV Skins isn’t what bothers me—it’s that it simply pales in comparison to the UK version. The UK Skins is way crazier but, somehow, it works.

    • Max

      It’s no surprise that it flopped. The show was just terrible. MTV has a really flawed view of what teenagers are like – or want to watch. The UK version is SO SO SO much better. I highly recommed people check it out. It’s really wonderful!

      • Max

        “recommend”, sorry

    • Suzq

      The UK actors are talented, plus UK writers wrote better scripts.

      • Effe

        My exact thoughts after two episodes.

      • Nemo

        Agree completely. Just rewatched Effie’s episode in which Tony (Nicholas Hoult)has to rescue her and breaks down for the first time. It made me realize how great the UK actors really were, and how terrible the US ones are.

      • K8

        HEy didn’t the british writers write the first epsiode of the american version? I agree the british one is amazing

      • Alex

        Both US and Uk have the same writers. You IDIOT.

      • Tricia

        Actually, the UK writers only were involved in writing three US episodes. They are credited on every episode as the “creators”, but were not writers on other episodes. No one should call anyone else an idiot without knowing what he’s talking about. It’s both rude and ignorant.

    • Valley Girl

      Word…

  • Jess

    Lord knows why I stuck with this show for the whole season. It was a blown opportunity by MTV to make something great.

    • jack

      There were some pretty good episodes (like when one of the kid’s mom abandons him and his dad who lives in the same town won’t take him in). But overall, the series and acting just sucked.

      • Jeff C.

        That episode was good, but only because it was a shot-for-shot remake of the original “Chris” episode.

  • Dan

    You didn’t watch every episode so obviously the finale isn’t going mean as much for you Hilary. SKINS is an awesome show. I started watching the show because of the controversy but I was pleasantly surprised to find a good show at the core. They told good stories. The episodes even had small morals in them (yeah, they even surprised me with that). Skins deserves a 2nd season… and I hope it gets it.

    • miss k

      I think you’re alone here….

      • laughlin

        he isn’t.

      • OMG

        Yes he is. You’re the same person, your nic-changing ruse isn’t fooling anyone.

      • Robert

        no hes not alone, i think most of you guys didnt even care to watch the rest of the season becuase you guys are so stuck on UK..dont get me wrong I LOVE UK version (gen 3 being my favorite) but you guys fail to realize skins US isnt supposed to be the same as UK..yeah they had the same characters but still skins US is supposed to generate a different feeling and not be compared to skins UK

      • rick

        He’s not alone, and if you think only one person in the world likes the show than you are a complete moron. Both me and my roommate like and watch the show.

      • Jack

        Well really I did stick through it all it just wasn’t good. It lacked something real that the first skins had and subsequent skins are bad to as soon as the second generation came around the storylines took a turn for the worse and they even somehow ruined Effy who was one of the best from the first generation. Furthermore the UK Skins was a little out there but it was realistic the way the drugs affect the US Skins characters is off the wall and clearly has no connection to reality. Overall it’s just more detached from reality than a soap opera

    • Michelle

      I agree 100%
      People are too judgmental and like to compare one thing to something else. Skins will do better with a second season.

    • jake

      i think your absolutely right.i believe with the right amount of effort this show can be come even better than any teen show alive.

    • turtlehart

      I agree and loved it!

  • SkinsUKFan

    I’m disappointed by the fact that you didn’t see the series through to it’s completion and then you decide to review the finale. That’s like reading only the last chapter of a book and saying I got most of it. However, it took Skins US way too long to heat up. I actually want to see a second season. Just to know how everything ends up. The finale was meh but it did have a little heft with the Abbud/Daisy stuff and the Stanley/Cadie/Michelle triangle. I want to see how the mythology of the achetypes used from UK Gen 1 finishes off in the US series. I honestly have no idea where they want to go and it’s sort of refreshing.

    • Stephanie

      Loved the UK Skins. The US version is just sloppy seconds, adapted poorly, terribly written. I wanted to like it, but it’s bad. These days, there are too many other great forms of media to spend time on than to waste hours waiting for a show to get better. I’m all for giving it a few episodes, but enough is enough!

    • K dub

      Couldn’t agree more. I too likes the UK version better, and I too didn’t watch every ep of the MTV version, but then, my job isn’t to WATCH TV PROFESSIONALLY! I can’t believe that someone with such a seemingly simple job description can’t be bothered to actually watch the whole season. It is pathetic and insulting, both to the show’s creators and o the readers. Sadly, this is not uncommon at EW – I remember the EW reviewer of “Infinite Jest,” one of the best books of the 90s, couldn’t be bothered to actually read it (“too long”)

  • SkinsUKFan

    Also, her taking off her clothes and getting into bed with her… I thought that was beautiful. A step towards intimacy. Very brave.

  • J

    Well I don’t think you can really judge when you haven’t seen all the episodes. It’s like just watching the beginning and ending of a movie.

  • piazia

    I loved SKINS. I’m so old that when I went to high school I was bored to death. Drugs didn’t even exist. Alcohol was it. The music on SKINS was fantastic. Go MTV!!!

  • E.B. Berman

    All along I found both the controversy and the “it sucks compared to the UK original” carping somewhat bewildering. Both versions of the series are remarkably similar. Two or three scripts seemed barely to have changed between the UK and US! They have the same weak points if you ask me, and both manage – only over the course of an entire series – to amount to something surprisingly (if still not entirely profoundly) moving. And, personally, I found the final shot of this series to be superior – unhinged in the exact right way to the exact right degree for a series about the joys and despair of growing up – to any produced by the UK version, save the 2nd generation’s “I’m Cooooook!” finale. (Which I found wonderful for completely different reasons.)

    • Eli

      Oh man, the 3rd and 4th seasons (2nd generation) were ABYSMAL.

      Yet I agree, it was SO terrible that it was fun in a make-fun-of-with-your-friends kind of way. Too bad none of my friends kept watching.

      • Emily

        i liked skins i hope mtv makes another season

  • Vince from NYC

    The first episode aired after a new episode of Jersey Shore.. People stuck around to watched the much hyped show. It stunk something aweful so nobody watched anymore..

  • Eli

    Yup, have to agree with the consensus. Everybody left the show because it’s terrible.

  • Rachel

    what works in the UK doesn’t necessarily work in the US…too many cultural differences. that’s probably why Skins failed in the US.

  • Juan

    I loved the show and hope they come out with a second one. you have to follow each episode to understand the story line. I really liked how every week they focused on one certain character together with everyone else so you learn about each of them. Awesome show!

  • Michael

    As someone who has seen both the entirety of the UK Skins and the US Skins. I can confirm that this show is GOD AWFUL their three biggest problems are that the acting sucks, they tampered with the story lines far too much in the wrong direction, and they depended WAY too much on shock value. Hilary is completely right, even if she hasn’t seen every episode, case closed.

    • Michael

      P.S. Anyone who thinks this show is actually good television needs to sit down and watch the UK version. You will be pleasantly surprised at the quality of improvement.

  • jezoebel

    I watched only one episode. All the controversy can’t make a boring show worth watching.

    • Rick

      That’s like only watching one episode of lost and saying it was too confusing.

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