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Alexandra Lange

Spoilsport


Lured by the prospect of getting sucked in to another TV series (to anticipate the next episode with characters you love is so much better than fearing another disappointing feature film), I added the first season of Skins to our queue. This is the hot hot hot BBC teen series, set in Bristol, and starring the boy of About a Boy, all grown up and a stud and the slumdog of Slumdog Millionaire, looking about 15 years younger and definitely not. There is also the hot girl, the anorexic girl, the smart girl with braces (but not glasses!), the gay boy, the crazy boy and the short, still-a-virgin, hero-worshipping boy that we all must hope gains self-esteem and a girlfriend by the end of the season. That’s Sid and he seems sweet.

We watched the first two episodes and while it is not boring, I find it icky. Not a term of art, but there it is. Too much sweat, too much drugs, too much barf, too much nudity. The American version would never let its characters look so bad, or be so imperfectly hot. In the second episode Cassie, the anorexic girl, has an amazing scene where she shows how anorexics do it — pretend to eat — while feeding the narcissism of those who should be watching. It’s shocking in a good way, and well-written, with perfect timing.

But in the same episode, there’s a ludicrous scene where three of the boys walk in on the hot mess Psychology teacher naked and she yells at them while showing them and us more of her naked breasts. There’s also quite a lot of Cassie’s naked mom. I supposed it is a step in the right direction from the false prudery of American teen shows, in which sex is always lit with candles and the camera cuts away before any clothing is removed. Also, while all the actors are attractive, they aren’t the models we have come to expect on network television. But this seems like going too far in the opposite direction, rubbing our noses in nudity, vomit (I forgot the scene in which an entire house has been splotched with food) and other secretions in an equally unrealistic way. It’s titillating, and therefore a hit, but like Gossip Girl et. al. it seems designed for the Sids of the world, old and young, to sigh over all the fun they missed in high school. Fun that no one else was actually having. But I could be wrong, since I certainly never had a co-ed sleepover on a school night with a change purse full of pills. Or drove a stolen car into a body of water. And that’s only the first two episodes!



Posted in: TV + Radio

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Alexandra Lange Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect’s Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.

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