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MTV’s Skins gets high school right—except when it doesn’t

The first instalment of Skins aired last night on MTV Canada, and though it entertained us, it underwhelmed in the OMFG department. Of course, the media and protesting parents groups had us anticipating Sodom and Gomorrah for youths, so  anything short of a meth-fuelled orgy would have felt tame. Shot in Toronto and starring a largely Canadian teen cast, the show prides itself on portraying young people as they really are—not squeaky cleaners or spoiled Upper East Siders. But how does the high school experience of Tony and the rest of the Skins gang stack up against what’s really going on in the lives of today’s teens? It’s been a while since our graduation year (hint: it coincided with the launch of Hotmail), so bear with us while we attempt to channel our inner adolescent, and by all means weigh in if you disagree. Below, our take on which aspects of the show ring true, and which feel faker than Ferris Bueller’s snoring machine.

TRUE DAT: Skins gets it right

• The multi-layered obsession with virginity loss, sex in general, drugs and all-night benders feels pretty true to form. Sure, there are other things to think about in high school, but none of them feel so earth shatteringly important at the time.

• Sid snacks on fries and gravy in the cafeteria. Despite Jamie Oliver’s best efforts, all iterations of deep-fried potato product remain a staple of the high schooler’s diet.

• Party at a random rich girl’s house. As an adult, it’s funny to imagine forcing your way into a social gathering where you don’t know the host and have every intention of trashing the house, but in high school, this type of thing is called “Friday.” Especially if your unwilling host—who foolishly thought she was just having a few friends over—lives in a mansion with a fully stocked liquor cabinet. There’s a reason this has been a plot line on every sitcom since teenagers were let on TV.

• Cadie offers to have sex with Stanley even though she knows he loves Michelle. Doesn’t every high school have a beautiful but painfully insecure girl who doesn’t know the difference between sex and self-worth?

BULLSHIZ: Skins gets it wrong

• Do drug dealers really have business cards? We think not. And would a drug dealer really go by the preposterously conspicuous name Maddison Maurice Le Dong? Ditto.

• It also seems unlikely that 16-year-old Stanley would be buying weed from a silver-haired dude in an Adidas jumpsuit. Last time we checked, high school drug dealers look like this.

• The gang shares a joint in a washroom stall, and while we’re not doubting the getting stoned during school hours part, we wonder why this 2011 school isn’t equipped with smoke detectors.

• Tony tries out for the choir at the neighbouring all-girls private school in the hopes of getting even more female attention. A funny plot point, but would a real 17-year-old go to all that trouble? Doubtful. Unless, of course, Tony is some sort of deranged sociopath. Come to think of it, his exercise scene is pretty American Psycho.

• What was with all the cringe-worthy wordplay surrounding a certain female anatomy part? The labia love tunnel, the furry city, worshipping at the coochie shrine? First of all, gross. And second of all, real teenagers do not talk like Dan Savage.

  • Flummoxed

    “Doesn’t know the difference between sex and self-worth”? What on earth is that supposed to mean?

  • Huss

    I agree with Toronto Life’s commentary. It is realistic, teens really are into partying like they do. The ones that don’t, would if they could, but maybe they come from homes where their parents are better communicators and they are better monitored by their parents. Parents who shelter kids are not preventing anything from happening, at least not in the long run. Communication and non judgement is key. Though Skins does get it wrong in the certain ways by trying to hard with lingo and the nuances of drug dealers etc… We watch shows about violence and murder all the time…realistic or dramatized, people don’t try to boycott advertisers for that. Somehow they expect their kids will know right from wrong, certainly sex isn’t worse than killing?

  • Kayana

    I thnk mtv is doing a good job on depicting what teens are doing. Some people won’t or don’t want to believe ti but some teens do drugs in schools or in the bathrooms of schools. I go to lincoln high school in philadelphia, pa and the students do drugs in the bathroom, they set the trash cans on fire, they have sex in the stair cases of the school, in the bathroom. and in the case of chris hooking up with his teacher, it happened at my school, it wasn’t a teacher but it was a securtiy guard for the school what was in his early 20′s and got to students pregnat. So I think mtv is doing a good job, Skins is getting critized abut some scenes but this stuff happens in real life. Parents don’t want to know or don’t think their teens are doing some of the stuff depicted on sins, but some teens are doing it, not all teens but some teens has. So good job mtv.

 

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