Saturday, April 10, 2010

An introduction to Skins Series 3

NOTE: This post is a two-parter. First I'll run down all the characters on Skins in this post, and then I will elaborate a bit more on what the show is about on this post

I think the main reason I watch Skins is because my teen years were pretty tame. The gritty drug-fuelled world of adolescence Skins presents to me is this glittery, grungy world of possibilities. I’m sceptical about how what reality it represents, but it also makes me envision that somewhere out there in the world, there are these pockets of hard-partying teens with wide, dark rimmed eyes and bleeding hearts pinned to their chests, running on marijuana and pills and booze and breathing with each others lungs and kissing with each others lips and just surrendering to their bodies.

The Series 3 trailer can be viewed here

Increasingly I find myself having mixed emotions about teenagers. On the one hand, I’m close enough to my own teen years (and the angst that came with) to relate to them. On the other, I have an inner curmudgeon that ages my mind considerably, so I also hate them. Their problems aren’t real! Also, they can be pretty stupid. But then that can be said of me too, so you know, universal human condition and whatever.

Skins works in cycles. They feature “generations”, where one group of teens are given two seasons of ten episodes each before being replaced by another generation.

Skins Series 3 (SS3) begins the second generation, which consists of 9 teens who all go to the same school (I think they’re about 17 or 18? And their education is tertiary, but also not like university). Each episode centres on a character (and also bears their name) and the last episode is usually titled “Everybody”. The main character, so to speak, is Effy. She is the little sister of Tony from the previous generation and is also the only one of the cast to have been in episodes from the first and second series.

Effy’s main characteristic is her flawless beauty. The girl is gorgeous, and she knows it. But she’s very quiet, and mysterious in that dark way that hints at a dangerous core. She is, as Meredith Grey once described herself, dark and twisty inside. In the first and second series, she didn’t speak at all, and that was her thing: being mute. She certainly uses her reticence to her advantage because every boy alive (in the series) falls in love with her and wants in her pants.

These boys also happen to be best friends, and their mutual love for her drives a wedge between the three and also seems to be the overarching theme for the whole series.

There’s Cook, who is like a feral animal. He doesn’t give a fuck about anything or anyone and he’s proud of it. He would like to bone anything that moves and often tries to do so. He’s pretty scungy, but he’s not devoid of any decency. He’s a rough shell trying to hide a pretty scared, fragile interior. Cook infuriates me and grosses me out frequently, but I can’t stay mad at him.

JJ, one of his two best friends, seems to have the same problem, because all through most of the later episodes, he is the one who never abandons Cook, and struggles to keep everyone together. JJ has a lot of mental health issues and social disorders, which makes him highly excitable and very nervous. He’s the sweetest one on the show, but also the saddest. He swings between gentleness and rage-fuelled violence, but his innocence usually prevails. He’s also the funniest, because he can be so hapless and clueless.

Freddie’s a stoner skater type, and he looks like Mowgli all grown up. He falls in love with Effy and has the most serious connection to her. He and Cook act like pseudo-parents towards JJ, but even he can’t keep the two from going at it – primarily because they both want Effy but also because Freddie seems repelled (to me) by Cook’s wildness and reluctantly but surely relinquishes his responsibility of keeping Cook in control. Freddie as an individual isn’t all that striking (to me), but it’s the way he connects to everyone else that really defines him as a character. 

The last boy on the show is Thomas, who only comes in on Episode 3 ("Thomas"). He is from the Congo, and arrived before his family to find a place for them to live. He meets and falls in love with Pandora, or Panda, who is Effy’s best friend and complete opposite. Whereas Effy is coy and experienced and fearless, Panda is naïve and simple and unsure of herself. She is treated like a child by her mother, and spends a lot of time “woolgathering”, as someone’s grandmother would say. I hated Panda at first, but she’s so soft and naïve it’d be like hating a teddy bear. 

Effy is also friends with the red headed twins, Emily (Kathryn) and Katie (Megan). Katie is the alpha-twin, and is a wannabe WAG. She’s bitchy and covets Effy’s spot as queen bee and also is a little homophobic. This is problematic because Emily is a lesbian. She’s the quiet, reserved twin who resents Katie while seeking her approval. Emily’s big secret is that she loves Naomi, who Katie hates and is constantly trying to humiliate.

Naomi’s the strong, independent loner type. She’s smart, sassy and she’s guarded. She’s torn between the need to be right and sure in herself, and dealing with the questions Emily raises about her sexuality, identity and her feelings for Emily. I like her best, I think, of all the kids.