Tag Archives: Skins

Skins: The antithesis of cultural snobbery.

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.

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Stealing Maxwell’s USP

A truly wonderful thing happened tonight in the world of television: the return of Skins for a third series.

I am not a big TV-watcher. In fact, the only thing I devote any time to on TV beyond the news and Panorama (mainly to look wistfully into the trustworthy eyes of Jon Snow in terms of the former; and to angry up my inner Conservative by noisily disagreeing with the overtly left-wing bias of the latter) is Hollyoaks. I have been addicted for years now.

Hollyoaks, though tackling some of the most serious issues is not always grounded in reality – who would actually sleep with their own sister, never mind marry her?? The characters are dull and unable to swear/commit sexual acts/do anything even nearly racy onscreen. Everything is done through implication.

Skins, on the other hand, was the antithesis of Hollyoaks – far more reality based, with drug taking, smoking and strong language seemingly encouraged. Skins was always a bad influence, precedent and excuse rolled into one hour long joint.

The first two series revolved around a tight cast of disparate individual characters, each one built up over a single episode. The third series, in a strange about-turn has found a whole new cast, referring only to series one and two characters in jokes and seemingly tongue-in-cheek references.

I was not impressed with the first episode of Skins series 3. Not the first 15 minute segment anyway. The main character was introduced to us skating down a street like Bart Simpson, narrowly missing a bus in First livery; the image suggesting the bus which knocked down the protagonist of series 1 and 2 in most dramatic fashion. This scene came like a slap in the face.

I can see the executive meeting right now: “Tony Stonem was hit by a bus, right? How about we take  this NEW protagonist *still anonymous to me – give it about four episodes* and throw him in front of one too – to show how AMAZING he is! UNTOUCHABLE! INVINCIBLE! BETTER!!!”

No.

I also hated his two pals who don’t deserve any attention beyond this paragraph.

Other main characters, introduced later – and exclusively female – were far more interesting.

There was the KateNash-a-like. She seemed interesting – though not psychologically damaged enough to escape a really dodgy storyline created solely to give her some edge.

Then there was CyndiLauper-a-like. She seemed interesting too – there was a scene with her crying in the shower, and anyone who has ever seen Carrie knows that always leads somewhere good.

I also like EasyRealism-a-like Effy Stonem; mainly as a result of having passed over from the previous two series and having done more drugs than any other character in the first episode.

There was also a (sadly) minor character who seemed to me a reflection of real life. When a hungover/still drunk lecturer played by Father Ted’s Ardal O’Hanlon (Blast! I told myself I wouldn’t give any actors’ names in this piece!) stood up and announced “My name is Keiran and I hate being a fuckin’ teacher”, I saw legendary journalism lecturer Ken Pratt in his eyes. Either that or I was seeing Father Ted’s Frank Kelly reprising his role as Father Jack. I’m never sure.

As with most things – TV shows, films, albums, people – I didn’t like it at first, but after that first quarter, things really picked up. By the end of the first episode of Skins series 3, I know I am already hooked.

Thankfully I never have anything interesting to do on a Thursday night. Fills a gap, don’t it?

Destination Unknown: Notes on a Mental Breakdown

I think I am experiencing acute information overload. My brain is becoming as blunt as my observations; my memory failing me like Sarah Palin’s debating skills minus the cue-cards.

I first noticed the symptoms a few weeks ago – I would think back to a conversation, remembering some scant detail or a quote; but not be able to place who I was actually speaking to. The paranoia started to set in at this point, because my life has been profoundly affected by Skins. I always think back to that episode where Chris died, his brain exploding after not being able to remember his girlfriend’s name. Plus massive drug intake. Plus actual brain disease. But I have no guarantee that my brain is not physically afflicted by some memory tumour. Do you see where I am going with this?! And as for drug intake, well, I ate Mexican food once.

So these conversations with no people began to increase in frequency, to the point where all of my social life just merged into one big ball of anonymous soliloquays which I happened to overhear; my brain compounding them into one massive, confusing, Modernist ramble of text.

So with all form of speech completely lost to me, the next thing to go was stimulating books. Because of my uni work, I have been physically unable to read anything beyond media theory for the past month – as previously ranted about. I’m surprised people even speak to me any more, considering I have nothing in my brain worth talking about outside of academia. Case in point – my mum’s boyfriend tried to pull me out of my week-long “bad mood” the other night (I was already out of it by then, but cheers…) by striking up a discussion about Aldous Huxley. He had stolen my copy of Point, Counter Point weeks ago and, by his own account, has read the first five paragraphs of it (I finished it in nine days the first time I read it – the man’s a genius); but found the conscise biography of Huxley at the beginning of the book very enjoyable. So I had this confused, Modernist ramble about Huxley’s experimental use of LSD and mescalin with a man who thinks gays should be shot and that my mum hanging a golliwog with a noose round its neck on her kitchen window is acceptable. I was completely unable to keep my argument on track, just spouting potted facts about Huxley’s defense of recreational drug use, ending with me calling my parent and lover-of-parent-who-steals-my-books fascists. I was not impressed when L-O-P-W-S-M-B thought his backchat-reference to The Young Ones went over my head. Who does he think I am!?

And while my mum and her boyfriend are sailing away in their utopia of red wine, premarital sex and ignorance of anything beyond the Daily Mail dictated status quo, my dad has decided that he is going to come and visit – for an entire month. Last time he was in the country, I only had to see him for five minutes before he buggered off elsewhere. This time, I don’t know. We have a strange set-up for Christmas, with my mum, my sister and myself visiting my paternal grandparents for dinner: with my dad here over the holidays, me presumably working and my mum busy burying her head in the Daily Mail letters page during premarital coitus; I am not sure how I will be able to avoid a few run ins with Big Davie.

I am not sure what percentage of my brain has been used to deal with these mounting problems, but I sure as hell know it is trying to cram in even more than that. For some reason, my tumultuous-cum-non-existant love life seems to be taking up more space than is really necessary. In fact, ever since I read an article about people defining themselves based on who they are with at a certain time, I have been needlessly convinced that I fit into this category. The only problem is that I am perpetually single, and therefore CANNOT exist! I need a new solipsism. Dark thoughts. Dark, dark thoughts.

Building out of the dark thoughts seems to be my dissertation, but there is really no point in even talking about that right now. What is really getting to me, though, is that I have OTHER classes at uni. When did that happen!? I am only now, six weeks into fourth year, realising just how much work I need to do in a very short space of time. I am trying to set up some decent interviews to use in a large portfolio, but I am finding it incredibly difficult to – for one thing, set up interviews; and for a second thing, actually motivate myself into doing the work. I got a blow to the professional side of my brain today when the local paper used a piece I tried to sell to them as a tip-off as opposed to a completed story. None of my (good) quotes were even used; and I certainly got no recognition for finding the story. I was well and truly scooped; I am well and truly gutted.

At most, I have managed to box all of my individual problems off – the Modernist, plagarised ramblings of my inner poet; the lack of stimulating reading material; the issues with my ever-expanding list of parents; the mutual hatred between the local newspaper editor and myself; and my complete inability to apply myself to anything productive – have all given their own topic headings under the umbrella term of information overload.

My first attempt at a remedy was some bastardised form of Cartesian meditation – trying to clear my mind of every intricate thought to leave only proof that there is a God (or so the theory goes!). This didn’t seem to work very well, but that may have been something to do with having downed a bottle of gin before making my attempt. At least that method relied only on my own initiative: my current plan is wholly dependant on outside influences – namely the Passport Office.

Today, regular readers Chris, Max and myself (yes, I include myself as a regular reader; even if my Number Of Hits Today ticker does not!) decided on a whim to book flights to Paris for our Christmas uni night out. If all goes to plan, we’re going to get loaded on the mainland five weeks from now! The only slight problem here is that one of us doesn’t have a passport, and of course, that would be me.

I have applied for a passport, but according to the leaflets, I should wait until I receive my documentation before booking any flights. Well guess what, I did, all right!? I’m not even interested in your “interview” or your “passport” or whatever! I just want to get the hell out of here!!

So regardless of how much I complain, I have to wait six weeks for a passport unless they decide off their own backs to do their job effectively! Any passport officials reading this – drop me an email. I will totally sleep with you or whatever if you fast-track my application.

Anyway, after I get loaded in gay Paris, miss my flight back and have to pawn my winter coat in order to afford the obligatory £15 worth of jellybeans, requisite for any good uni trip; I plan to make damn good use of this new-found freedom of world travel. My dad tells me he has moved out of his old apartment building (“it smells of cats and pee!” – his words), and into somewhere bigger (“this flat has more than one room!” – his words).

I’m excited, I must say. Wherever it is my dad lives in Spain is bound to be warmer than this icicle-riddled excuse for a country – which will work wonders for the Seasonal Affective Disorder I have double-think-ed my way into believing I have; and I will get to meet my dad’s girlfriend – for purposes of further stoned-out-zoned-out discussions of English Literature and firey blog-material of course! And who in their right mind wouldn’t want yet another unstable parent??

As soon as that Passport Office cheque clears – screw Rene Descartes, postmodern parenthood and thinking for myself, and let the world tour commence!!