Why Skins Isn't Cool Enough To Influence Real Teens

Since Monday's premiere, Skins has been embroiled in controversy, with Viacom execs ordering producers to tone down content, losing advertisers, and the Parents Television Council wringing its hands over "the most dangerous television show for children." But is it really?

Freaked out about the possibility that Skins will make sex and drugs appear cool to our nation's youth—as though the two activities need help from a shitty remake with stilted dialogue to make such activities seem appealing—the Parents Council has listed 42 depictions and references to drugs and alcohol in the premier episode. Now the Council is in a tizzy over the show's third episode, which supposedly features the naked rear end of 17-year-old actor Jesse Carere, and urging the Department of Justice and U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committees to open an investigation into violation of child porn statutes.

Nudity aside, after watching the first episode of the series, we're having a hard time imagining that any American teens can find its characters aspirational, cool, or even relateable enough to find worthy of mimicking. First of all, while MTV's version was pretty faithful to the original UK series, it was perhaps too faithful, essentially using the same script without reflecting any cultural changes in the way that kids speak here as to how they do on the other side of the pond. (Using the term "narcotics" instead of, say, "pharmies," or "spliffed up" instead of "stoned to the bone," just made the characters interactions sound so false and imagined by an adult.) Besides that, do kids really want to watch an hour-long show of people talking on their phones? What is this? Bye Bye Birdie?

Not to sound like a Pollyanna, but frankly, I think that Glee plays into kids' fantasies a little bit more, as fighting off bullies and unabashedly engaging in a dorky but beloved activity is kind of what high school dreams are made of. The sex and drugs will always happen on their own, and teens who are interested in that kind of experimentation are probably already seeking it out, and too busy to watch a stupid TV show that doesn't actually help them along in their personal journey toward hedonism. On top of that, does the Council think that kids are really that impressionable that they'd have sex or drink or do drugs just because kids on TV are doing it? Because if Skins is really that influential, then we have a much larger problem on our hands: We're gonna see a lot of adolescents who aren't wearing winter coats when it's snowing outside. Horrors!

More 'Skins' drama [NY Post]