Skins: Series 6, Episode 1

"Stop having fun! Think of the consequences! Dear God, won't someone please think of the consequences?"

Much like the teenagers it seeks to portray, when Skins is good it’s exciting, imaginative and rollicking good fun. But when it’s bad it’s so stupid you want to string it up from a tree and smash it in the face with a cricket bat while shouting ‘YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW THE REAL WORLD WORKS’.

Ahem, not that we’re condoning that kind of parenting of course.

At its peak back in season two it was one of the best dramas on British TV with rich, complex characters being whirled around inside a furious storm of a plot.

But that was then and we’re now six series in. While replacing the cast every second series has undoubtedly extended the show’s lifespan, it’s also meant that the successful template of the first two seasons has been replicated too many times, leading to increasingly diminishing returns.

The second generation had some strong characters but a plot arc that didn’t work at all. However, this time around it seems the consistency of the characters has been sacrificed to make exciting things happen.

The season opens with the gang in Morocco for a fantasy of a holiday, with all the drug taking, sex and raving you’d expect. Interestingly, it appears that there aren’t actually any Moroccans in Morocco but whatever, you’re not watching Skins for a concise reconstruction of the Arab Spring demonstrations.

Things take a traditionally dramatic turn for the worse later on, but the whole conceit requires the audience to ignore pretty much everything that happened to this characters previously. A key plot point of season five was the overly controlling parents of several of the main characters, but suddenly they’re absolutely fine with their teenage offspring racing around the north African desert on scooters like they’re filming a particularly crap Top Gear special.

Most worryingly Frankie, who was the main character last year, has apparently morphed from a painfully shy, androgynous weirdo to a Kate Moss-esque jaded sex predator in the space of about six weeks.

This change seems to have been made so she can leave behind her freshly acquired boyfriend to elope with a fantastically creepy older drug dealer, thus necessitating a frantic car chase and crash that lands another character in a coma.

Those developments will surely power the narrative for the rest of the season, but it’s still damn poor writing to entirely rejig your main character just so viewers can witness a car chase.

However it has to be said that the car crash was pretty exciting, and it was good that the action then immediately shifted back to the grim old UK, specifically to a rather miserable bunch of Skins who were back at college and clearly ravaged by the emotional hangover of their Moroccan holiday.

The aftermath of the party is a theme this show has often turned to but it still works, because in a weird way it actually has a fairly strong streak of morality running through it like the lettering in a stick of rock. In this case, said lettering would say ‘Don’t run off with a drug dealer’. Or possibly ‘Morocco! Come for the scenery, stay for the substandard medical care’.

Sure these kids party and shag and behave like little monsters ’til the dawn, but there are always consequences. Even if they don’t deserve them.

In fact if you sat a teenager down and made them watch a five-and-a-bit series marathon of the show, it wouldn’t be surprising if they concluded the consequences of a Skins-esque party lifestyle would be getting hit by a bus and crippled, dying of brain cancer, having your parents die, being deported, suffering profound schizophrenia or being beaten to death by a doctor.

And with all that baggage behind it, it’s a minor miracle the show is still watchable at all, let alone that it retains that zing of excitement that still somehow makes it feel unique.

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Skins is on Mondays, E4, 10pm. You can catch up here

Related posts: Skins Series 6 Preview

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About Ian Dunn
I love avocados, WH Auden and dinosaurs but I don't like effort.

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