Skins on MTV
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
In the past week, the Parents Television Council has been
the target of derision from snide television “critics” and representatives of
the entertainment industry – all because we dared to suggest that MTV’s new show
Skins was not suited for viewing by children. But any objective viewer –
that is to say, one whose livelihood does not depend on manufacturing corrosive
programming, delivering children’s eyeballs, hearts, and minds to advertisers,
or fawning over the entertainment industry in print – would be forced to
conclude that the PTC is exactly right in its estimate of the show. For its
exhaustive, soul-crushing portrayal of high-school children obsessed with drugs
and sex, MTV’s Skins (10:00 p.m. ET) is the Worst Cable TV Show of the
Like Dawson’s Creek, Gossip Girl, and dozens of other shows before it,
Skins is a ludicrous caricature of what teens wish life was like…or more
accurately, what pathetic, sex-obsessed middle-aged network programmers going
through midlife crises wish their teenage lives had been like. The episode opens
with allegedly “cool” high-school student Tony waking to leer at the sexy older
woman who obligingly disrobes for him in front of her window every morning. He
then covers for his sister sneaking in after a night out by blaring rock music,
then locks his father out of the bathroom and climbs out the window, leaving the
parent fuming before the locked door. “You think I’m your b****, don’t you?” the
But on Skins, EVERYBODY is Tony’s “b****.” He calls his girlfriend
Michelle (whom he endearingly calls “Nips” in reference to her breasts) and
demands that she sleep with his other friend, Stanley. “Stan's got to get laid
before he turns 17 or he can't be my friend anymore," Tony sneers. In a
ridiculously unrealistic moment, Michelle moans, “Do I have to?”, rather than
simply cutting off the call. (In fact, Tony’s obsession with his friend’s
virginity borders on the pathological. Is any teen really that concerned about
whether or not his friend is a virgin?)
After some more hilariously overblown “hip” dialogue (despite the show’s alleged
“authenticity,” Tony certainly talks like a character in a scripted drama. Well,
a really poorly scripted drama), Tony cons his friends into organizing a “date”
between the hapless Stan and Katie, a girl with drug-addiction problems. Katie’s
illness is treated sensitively by the show:
Tony: "So we go to a party and get some girl racopiously spliffed up, in a
confused state, and she comes to believe, however momentarily of course, that
you're attractive, and...she bangs your brains out."
Naturally, Katie is perfectly fine with this plan:
Katie: "You're going to dope me into outer space and then bang my brains
out…Later we'll get bumping."
Stanley: "At the party."
Katie: "At the party with a pile of drugs."
Stanley: "You got it."
Katie: "Oh, and Stanley, I only like really great narcotics, you
Of course, there are other moment so insanely unrealistic as to induce nausea
on any viewer with a brain. While a girl reads a report on the stages of
mourning, the teacher – called “Tina” by all her students – sniffles and sobs,
resulting in the following dialogue:
Tony: "So, no more gym teachers, Tina?"
Tina: "I guess."
Chris: "No matter how big his dingly is."
Chris then goes on to insult the gym teacher in question via phone, calling him
“a**wipe”. Naturally, there will be absolutely no repercussions for Chris or
Tony for this kind of behavior. At times, Skins makes the Star Wars
movies look like stone-cold models of realism.
Eventually, Tony’s plan comes to fruition: Stan goes to a bordello and buys a
huge quantity of marijuana, which the gang then plans to sell to a group of
wealthy students from an all-girls Catholic school. (More of the show’s
unrealistic and juvenile humor is revealed with the name of the school – “Edith
Damp” – along with the name of the cafeteria, “Nutbush.” With wit like that,
Skins’ writers should be working for Seth MacFarlane.) Naturally, this is
just the beginning of their troubles.
Though this report has dwelt on Skins’ laughable aspects – laughable in a
grossly unrealistic way, not a genuinely humorous one -- the program really is
not funny. It is a ruthless exploitation of children. The cynical campaign MTV
has waged to seduce minors into watching the program by marketing it on websites
like “Teen.com” is matched only by Skins producer Brian Elsley, who noted
in a video for Adweek, “what Skins delivers is kids. That’s what it
delivers to advertisers.”
Teenagers should recognize that, far from liberating them or showing them about
the world, MTV is merely using them to make money from companies seeking to
exploit them; while parents, and everyone else concerned about America’s
children, culture, and future, should unite in opposing the advertisers and
companies that produce programming like Skins.
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