Review: Skins U.K. versus Skins U.S.
U.K. ★★★★★/★★★★★ U.S. ★/★★★★★
This series follows 8 teens( in U.K. we have three different generations of teens) through sixth form/high school (16-18 years old), and it leads them through exploration of sexuality, eating disorder, bipolar disorder, alcohol/drug abuse and death. So by this description we can tell it is a darker show, well, by that I mean the British version is, the United States attempts to make it more comedic, and fails, without having any of the complexity it originally possessed.
What is the big difference between U.K. TV and American TV? This seems to be the big issue as to why the US version was a pile of garbage while the UK had me pinning for the future of the characters. American television seems to be in love with violence, even sexual violence, but when it comes to sex/drugs/cursing is taboo, and the consequences that come from it, American television sees it as a huge taboo. British telly is cool with all four, and uses the impact that it would have on real lives to advance the stories, instead of ignoring the consequences completely.
Now let us note the big differences:
- Tony(U.K) is a bit of a sociopath. He is a dislikabel character because he cares only for himself and his sister, spends his time disrespecting his father, and barely paying attention to his mother, all the while he is playing cruel games with his friends. But he is not so nonredeemable, he does love Michelle and Sid, and possibly all of his friends and his family. He is complex and dynamic, with fans describing him from a polysexual to a man that uses sex as a form of power. His counterpart, also named Tony in the US version, possess nothing of this, except the cheating aspect, which is done very poorly. To put it simply, he is just not vicious enough.
- Maxxie Oliver is changed to Tea. Maxxie is a gay teen, who is best friends with Anwar, a Muslim boy, gets changed into Tea, a lesbian who is a “player,” and ends up not really being a lesbian. Maxxie has a complex story, his friendship with Anwar is tested after Anwar has a moment in which he thinks he cannot be friends with Maxxie if he is gay, as sexuality and Muslim faith collide for Anwar, and it then explores how Anwar overcomes it after confessing to his father who Maxxie truly is, to which his father respond with acceptance, claiming that there are things he does not understand, so he lets them be, because he knows that when he reaches heaven, Allah will explain it to him, so he has no reason to criticize anyone. This is omitted from the US version, in which we are given Tea, who is not sure about her sexuality, and begins sleeping with Tony, even though she is a self-proclaimed lesbian. It goes from Maxxie, a gay teen being completely sure of his sexual identity, to Tea, who is not sure, and has a rather “forced” ending with another girl. (By this I mean she ends up with a girl after all that useless sex with Tony, and it felt rather forced.)
- Sexualization of females. In the first episode of the British version, Sid goes through photos of Michelle(fully clothed) on his phone. He is looking at this pictures because he has harbored feelings for her for quite a long time. In the North American version however, Michelle is in a bikini. It is completely unnecessary to have her in such a form if the guy is in love with her, people that love other people do not love them for how they look or what they wear, the love them for who they are, and although there are references to sexual appeal in both series, the UK uses it as a second thought while the US makes it appeal as the main point of his affection.
- Cassie is such a dynamic character. She suffers form anorexia nervosa, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts and drug addiction. She says “wow” a lot, and has an entire episode dealing with her mental health and how she helps herself overcome it, while also having bits of help from others, but in the end, she rescues herself. US Cadie just takes a pill and somehow her depression and anorexia go under control, she does not say wow a lot, and her thought are barely there. I believe the people writing this show (US) had no bloody idea how mental illness works.
- Jal and Chris’ relationship. Jal and Chris are complex people, Jal was abandoned by her mother and has a complicated relationship with her father and her brothers, and Chris is abandoned by his mother, before that by his father, and before that, his brother had died. In each other they find the comfort and love that no one could have provided, it did not simply start because they needed sex, it was a relationship formed in years of friendship, and an understanding of who they truly were. In the US Daisy strikes a relationship with Abbud, who is the version of Anwar, out of nowhere. They become friends with benefits, and all the complications and difficulties that they were meant to endure is completely eradicated. Not only is this relationship an insult to the original couple, but a disservice to Anwar, who is also much more complex than Abbud.
- And what the hell is it with Effy in the U.S. version being mute by choice? That is not Effy Stonem, she has medical reasons for it as well as her own choice. Effy is filled with a dark story, is knowledgeable of what is going on in everyone’s life, is a main character instead of a side show, and provides insight into the group instead of simply standing around, also her name in US is Eura. What? No. Effy is not just a bad girl, she is the bad girl, she speaks only when she has insightful things to say, not simply because she chooses not to, there are reasons behind her actions.
A bitter taste in my mouth was what was left after seeing the US adaptation. Simply watch the UK version and ignore the existence of the US one.
I have a question: Are lesbians more accepted in U.S. television than homosexual men? Since Maxxie gets changed to Tea, while no one else changed genders.