Today, the TV series Skins has become a fixed part of teenage culture in the UK. Since it premiered back in 2007, it has been met with a considerable amount of controversy and backlash. Skins is no stranger to this reception in the UK, but now that it has been exported to the US there seems to be an elevation in the backlash. Staunch conservative groups in the U.S. like the PTC (Parents Television Council) have described the programme as ‘dangerous’ for children. This was then followed by MTV producers’ attempts to censor the show’s explicit scenes and even the US Senate’s approval of the PTC investigation into charges of child pornography.
Skins seems to have pinpointed a zeitgeist of traditionalist insecurity, yet if anything, all of this additional media attention would appear to be fanning the show’s flame. Roughly 3.3 million tuned into the show’s premiere on MTV, setting a new record for viewers in the demographic of 12 to 34 year-olds. So the Skins phenomenon continues.
The show might be pretentiously romantic when dealing with teenage issues, but that’s where some of its charm lies. No doubt there will be members of the US viewership who feel that Skins is too unrealistic, much like there is in the UK – yet for all its critics, the programme shows no signs of stopping. There is apparently a film in the works, so thousands more hopeful teen actors will be lining up for the opportunity to join the cult phenomenon. As the anti-Skins campaign mounts in the US it only seems to affirm the show’s appeal to viewers, along with its depiction of the rebellious and ostracised life of a contemporary teenager – which after all, is the point.