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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    MTV should have left Brits’ hit alone

    MTVs Skins
    MTV’s Skins

    If you miss your high school years of participating in illegal drug use, massive amounts of sex and learning valuable lessons about growing up, then you’d probably enjoy the show “”Skins.”” Even if your high school experiencewas nothing like that, it’s still a good watch.

    But viewers beware: don’t get confused and accidentally watch MTV’s new massacre of the U.K. original. That would be an utter waste of time and an insult to a fantastic show.

    Both versions follow a group of high school students and the trials they endure while growing up. While the American take has just started, it looks like it’ll explore similar story lines, and the first episode was nearly a shot-for-shot remake of the U.K. pilot.

    The baffling part about the remake is that, even though the scripts are almost identical, one is fantastic while the other is, well, embarrassing.

    The brilliantly designed characters from across the pond would ideally give their American counterparts all the material they needed to do as good of a job. Instead, every one falls flat in so many ways.

    Take, for example, both versions of Tony, one of the main characters. In both, Tony is — or is supposed to be — an attractive, charismatic and manipulative teen with a girlfriend that every other guy wants.

    The U.K. Tony, played by Nicholas Hoult, achieved this spectacularly. Throughout the first season he pulled his friends’ strings like they were marionettes, felt no remorse and made audiences believe it. For a long time, he got away with it, and watching him play his games drove the show.

    The American Tony, played by James Newman, has a lot to measure up to. As far as his attractiveness, sure, he’s a handsome kid. But then there’s charisma — and boy, is Newman devoid of that. Actually, he’s devoid of any worthwhile emotion, robbing the English Tony of everything that made him great. The American version just doesn’t have the swagger necessary to get the job done, and because he’s the show’s ringleader, the rest of the cast suffers for it.

    All the characters are either completely deadpan or, for some reason, act like someone told them they had an hour left to live and decided to cope with it by flailing about like an idiot. What’s worse is that each character can do both at any second. Apparently, in American television, there’s no such thing as building tension. Here in the states, we just like to go for it.

    You’d think that would be enough problems to sink any show, but the actors aren’t the only issue.

    While things like nudity and swearing aren’t integral to making a show about teenagers engaging, they certainly add a helpful flavor. Real teenagers don’t position their naked bodies just right so that nothing too edgy is shown and a bleep certainly doesn’t cover up any curse words that slip out.

    Because MTV wanted to make “”Skins”” authentic, the network decided to hire all minors for the cast without thinking about any legal implications. That has led to a potential child pornography suit that has sent the big wigs into a tizzy. Anyone who didn’t even consider that showing minors naked — even from behind — might cause problems shouldn’t have any kind of executive power.

    Frankly, this whole series was doomed from the start. Not only did the American adaptation shoot itself in the foot by airing on a channel that has to censor too much, but it was already dead right out of the gate thanks to terrible casting and a sub-par script.

    The U.K. version really is worth the watch, because it does everything the American version is trying to do. It’s well written, well acted and edgy in all the right ways. For those with access to a Netflix account, I suggest watching it on instant watch. That way, you can see what MTV has failed to do: accurately represent teenagers and the way some of them grew up.

    — Jason Krell is a creative writing sophomore. He can be reached at arts@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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