Unless you've been living under a rock where pop-up ads, Twitter feeds and word of mouth are forbidden, you know that MTV revealed its Skins last night. And while less frisky than the source material — the scorchingly brazen British series about drug-addled, sex-obsessed teens — the U.S. version wants to shock as much as the kids want to boff.
Does it succeed? Well, like the characters in search of hooking up, sort of. Following the template set by some of the best teen dramas (including the UK edition), Monday's premiere centered on an ill-fated party. The classic 90210-ers had Marianne Moore's fall semester kick-off soiree. The O.C. had that beach bash featuring the Luke-Ryan beat-down. Gossip Girl had the "Kiss on the Lips" party. And the Skins crew, scrappier and sluttier than their soapy forbears, had a mess of a get-together where sex (pubescent playa Tony plotted to get loser bestie Stanley laid), drugs (Stan's first- time-to-be nearly O.D.'d), and violence (fight! fight! fight!) collided in a way that would have left One Tree Hill under a state-mandated curfew for a month. But not this posse. They roll on, amid an array of crotch gropes, manipulations and after school-specialized issues, free of the frothy emotional epiphanies and pesky moral lessons that make other youth-centric shows feel so sanitized today.
The trade off for all this ennui, however, is that there aren't any emotions on display. Which may be the most unsettling thing about the show: These careless kids are a bit too much like the ones cutting you off in traffic or blissing out on the Xbox in the next room. Most of the dewy young cast excels at looking chronically bored, if not flat-out stoned, and they could all use some sun. They're like the Walking Dead crossed with a Pro-Active commercial. And we get that teens are supposed to be selfish, complex, self- destructive, fascinating creatures trapped in hormone factories where the only release is often through base pleasure-hunting. The original British series nailed that truth and kept us glued to the tube. This U.S. translation simply feels hollow for hollow's sake. Future episodes will hopefully go a little deeper, but if it's nothing but a bunch of kids who can't even muster a hint of concern for anything — even about themselves — why should anyone care about them at all?
Did you check out Skins? Are these kids all right or nothing much?
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