I just watched Skins.
I was really sceptical – like a lot of people – when I heard they were changing the entire cast for season three; and I didn’t like the first few episodes because I was so ingrained in the deep psychological flaws of the original cast. Cassie will probably always be one of my top-ten TV characters.
However, after the last (literal) couple of episodes, I was Twittering endlessly about how – given time to properly develop the characters – the third series was fast becoming as good as, dare I say it, season two.
Tonight’s episode seven was fantastic. From an objective point of view, probably the best yet. Episode six was incredibly powerful, but – like I did with a lot of season two – I was applying the situations to my own life and memories. Nothing beats a bit of televisual catharsis.
The reason tonight was so good was because although I couldn’t connect to it as deeply as other episodes, I was completely enthralled by the storyline, the new interactions between – finally – developed characters (JJ and Emily were obvious, but also between Emily and Cook and Freddie and Katie (honestly, never saw that one coming)).
Might I also point out that my favourite character is Naomi – one of the few characters I did not write off during episode one.
I even like Cook now – the outfits he wears are supposedly a mash up of violent youth culture over the past 50 years, which I think is a fantastic allusion – particularly since it is so malleable a medium.
I complained about the unrealistic feel I got from series three at the beginning: everything was over-the-top, special effects – and there still is an element of that – but the Bristol underworld does not play so big a part anymore. More to the point, it has been given its own place in the background: an integral part of the class system* building up around the characters in a way far more obvious than the previous series. Effy Stonem lives in the same house, yet now, the fact that she comes from a middle class part of the city is far more important. Bring on the bourgouise disillusionment.
*I am arguing that class is becoming less and less important with someone over MSN right now – what a charlatan I am.
One thing I was able to apply to this realisation of how important the class system is in Skins was that I was born to middle class parents, and am of the generation of the characters, regardless of being older than the original cast. Boo hoo.
But from my objective viewpoint, the series revealed itself to be – intentionally or otherwise – modelled on Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot”. I only realised tonight, with the revelation of JJ’s autism, that he could be argued as taking the role of Prince Myshkin. Perhaps this was all too obvious since he was episode seven’s protagonist.
However, on a grander scale, Effy Stonem must be modelled on the damaged and damaging Nastasya Fillipovna: knowing that everyone loves her on sight, but does not really care; treating those around her as objects and experiments.
Perhaps thankfully, her character seems to be opening like a matroshka doll and allowing her true self to come out from within a beautiful shell.
My only concern is that when the main character in Skins – or any programme, since they are all so homogenous anyway – opens up like this, the series is surely drawing to a close. Please don’t leave me, Skins! I need you.
Final point: the music was, yet again, incredibly important. Thank you, Alex Hancock, for giving us an episode littered with Debussy – and thank you, anonymous gatekeepers of the rolling credits, who gatecrashed the screen before the actors names were given and rightfully spelled out the words “Music by Claude Debussy”. I knew we were listening to Clair De Lune on the first two chords, but suppose other people didn’t? Why deprive them from enjoyment out of some ridiculous snobbery?
On that point, there is far less snobbery in culture. I won’t go any deeper, but it is something to think about: maybe that is where the class system is breaking down. I will probably blog on this at a later date since I have decided to launch a journalistic campaign in favour of free downloads and against the restrictions on YouTube from the music industry generally which are hampering my enjoyment of life – no hyperbole.
Anyway, yes, Skins, yes, thumbs well and truly up.