MTV just announced US Skins has been canceled. As a pretty rabid Skins fan, I’m pretty sad about this. (Actually, lots of rabid Skins fans I’m sure never even gave the US show a chance of out purism.) But I love UK Skins. I love its characters and its writing, and how each episode just makes you ache. I had a lot of faith in Bryan Elsley to translate that to the US. It…kind of worked.
The Good: You really have to partition your mind to find the best things about MTV Skins. Just forget for a second that you know how good UK Skins is, and watch MTV. The show is real, it’s new, it’s got some decent energy. It’s head and shoulders about most other shows for that demographic in the US. Forget how flawless Nicholas Hoult was, and maybe (this might be a stretch) James Newman isn’t quite so…terrible. If you never knew Joe Dempsie’s Chris, I think Jesse Carere was actually quite good. And Tea, for all the lesbidrama on the intertubes about her storyline, well, I still don’t think it was nearly as awful as everyone said, and definitely more interesting than most lesbian storylines on American TV.
But the absolute best thing about MTV Skins was its potential. The original parts of the episodes, the ones written new in the US, were generally much better than the UK imports. (Except Tina’s ep. WTF was that shit.) Since season 2 was supposed to be all original, I really believed that MTV Skins would come into its own. A little late, but I think it would’ve gotten there. Lots of shows had rough starts (The Office, Parks and Rec) but had brilliant later seasons.
The Bad: The first glaring reason why I think Skins got the axe is James Newman. Sorry, he seems like a nice guy, but completely not right for whatever they were trying to do with Tony. He was a wooden actor, and just couldn’t pull off the confidence, the air of being untouchable. This could have to do with the other major weak point: a lot of the recycled British stuff just didn’t work. It’s not that we have different sense of humor, and they have much cooler slang than us. It’s just, half the show is the original Tony/Michelle/Sid storyline, but then you throw in Tony/Tea in place of Tony/random slut that isn’t really a major character and the dynamic is completely different. That would have been fine, except US Tony was presented (by that I mean acted, directed, and marketed) like Tony Stonem. But not only was Tony Snyder a pale ghost of what Tony Stonem was, that character just did work in the way that it needed to. A big part of UK Skins’ success is that the storylines seem meticulously crafted, treated with care. The characters are surprising and fresh, but most of all genuine. This Tony was not genuine. And as the main character of the series, that’s kind of a problem.
So, it wasn’t my favorite show. I know it doesn’t really compare to original. But I think it could’ve become something good (and possibly even great) with a second season.