January 18th, 2011
03:37 PM ET
MTV’s anticipated new scripted series, “Skins,” premiered last night on the channel – after a nice new episode of “Jersey Shore,” no less – and although it’s been billed as dangerously edgy, critics aren’t so sure it’s living up to its promises.
The series, based on the popular U.K. show of the same name, tells the by now familiar story of foul-mouthed high school teens who spend a lot of time seeking sex and drugs.
But while the Brit version won hearts with its honest approach to the reality of being a teen, the jury’s still out on the U.S. import.
“‘Skins’ (a term for rolling papers) is about a group of blue-collar teens,” the New York Post explains in a review. “But what, in the original version, is a combination of laugh-out-loud funny and scary comes across here as ‘Gossip Girl’ on unemployment.”
Strange, since critics point out that the first episode was awfully reminiscent of the original. The U.K.’s Guardian found the first half-hour to be “a shot-for-shot, beat-for-beat and practically word-for–word doppelganger of the Channel 4 pilot.” The language isn’t as strong, and the “determination to be shocking at all times is absent,” the Guardian notes, but for the most part, “it’s the same show.” Indeed, Time magazine's James Poniewozik cautions that where "Skins" may ultimately falter is in "finding its American voice."
The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, found "Skins" to be "nothing more than an R-rated teen soap minus any truly resonant characters," adding that the pilot isn't shocking as much as it's "ridiculous."
“Not only do these kids have no homework or extracurricular activities (beyond the above mentioned), school is just a place to smoke and gossip and have occasional run-ins with teachers who are either moronic or mentally unbalanced," the Times' Mary McNamara says in a review. "The parents are no better, acting simply as convenient foils for the kids' angst, anger or narcissism...Subsequent episodes improve — there is small hope for Tea and much hope for Black-D'Elia as an actor — but sadly, not enough."
The show didn't seem to win over Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker either.
“Skins” is exactly what you’ve been told it would be, the critic says: “Teens drinking and drugging, staying out all night, fighting with their parents, trying to help a pal lose his virginity, going to z-z-z-z-z… oh, sorry — my head hit the keyboard while I was typing phrases familiar to describe so many ‘daring’ teen shows.”
The critic adds that the show will likely “have a hard time distinguishing its ground-breaking rude-lewd-shamelessness from all the other rude-lewd-shameless shows on TV right now," and "may need a guest appearance by Snooki to add a little authentic crassness to the proceedings.”
But perhaps the purported outlandish behavior of the characters was oversold – Time adds that once you get past the not-so-daring antics, there could be more to love.
“For all its cheekiness and raunch, Skins has more sweetness than snarky teen soaps like ‘Gossip Girl,’” Poniewozik says. "This is the secret of this unsettling, flawed but ambitious show: it wears its heart on its skin."
Did you catch the premiere? If so, what did you think? Will you keep watching?
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