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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

COMIC: Rat’s Nest #3
Olivia MoreyFebruary 28, 2024
 

Bloody hell: Why American TV is bollocks

There has been a media firestorm surrounding the show “”Skins,”” which recently debuted on MTV. Critics are in an uproar over the sexual and drug related situations that the characters (all teenagers) are experiencing, and disapprove of the general nature of the show. Taco Bell, one of the most prestigious and respected institutions in America, has already pulled its commercials from the small-screen travesty, claiming it doesn’t “”match their brand.”” If Taco Bell’s brand isn’t “”Hey drunk kid! We’re still open!”” then I’m confused, but that’s not the important part of this article. The point is that Americans are a horribly prude and over-offended bunch, and this is most easily seen when we throw yet another fit over TV programming that wouldn’t cause a European to bat an eye.

“”Skins”” began as a British show, and a quite brilliant one at that. It was an unflinching look at the tribulations of teenagers in urban England, unfettered by the limitations of censorship and conscience. Serious issues were addressed, kids are full of angst; it is like any one of the emo-American clones like “”Degrassi”” or “”Dawson’s Creek.”” However, unlike those American programs, “”Skins”” wasn’t forced to hide behind the imposed moral compass that guides every plot line in the aforementioned U.S. shows. Those shows want so badly to address the issues that plague the kids of that age, but aren’t confident enough to do it the way they should, cowed by the G-rated suburban expectations from our media industry. The American censors have made every plot line for that brand of shows trite and predictable. At this point I feel bad for every grandparent figure introduced for a single episode, seeing as they are obviously doomed to die by the end of the 30-minute span. The “”Grandpa passed on”” storyline and the similar “”Bobby from class says I should try drugs”” arc have appeared in countless American shows, but have never deviated from their prescribed conclusions. In the original “”Skins,”” the main characters are the ones pushing drugs, and death and other unfortunates come completely out of left field, as in real life. It is a refreshing breath of TV that is realer than our patriotic “”reality TV,”” and one that has the bollocks to show the culture as it really is. On top of that, it is entertaining — its lack of American inhibition allows for a much greater range of plots and characters, and honestly, every bit of slang sounds better with a British accent.

And then we thought it would be a good idea to bring it to America.

Why not? It worked well with “”The Office,”” and since the American media industry seems firmly planted in its unoriginal re-purposing agenda, stealing another popular show from Britain should be pure brilliance. However the cultural discount is high with this one, and it’s a terrible idea. The whole reason “”Skins”” worked is because it was an uninhibited, raunchy and R-rated version of the typical American teen drama.

Placing it in the frame of a USA television strips it of its British advantages and makes it just another typical American teen drama. The attempts to regain the edgy feel just come off as forced, and the bleeping of the word “”fuck”” in the pilot is an obvious and awkward example of how it can’t exist in this format. As we’ve shown after just one episode, we can’t be trusted with good controversial things, because there’s already talk of suing MTV and canceling the show.

I’m not surprised at all, just disappointed that we felt the need to convert it to our restrictive culture. Quite obviously its charm and point will be lost in the translation, and nothing embodies that more than the title itself. “”Skins”” is British slang for rolling papers, a fitting title for these drug-addled escapades, at least in Britain. We should have translated that so people would know what to expect, yet I doubt the show “”Joint”” would have even been considered by the MTV executives. It’s another example of Americans’ need to reformat something great for themselves, rather than just explore the world outside of USAland.

Do yourself a favor and check out the original, British version of “”Skins”” if you haven’t already — and if you find yourself swearing like a gangster in a Guy Ritchie movie for months after, that just means it’s working.

 

— Johnny McKay is a media arts senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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