TV Writer Lula Izzard tells us that we should all re-watch Skins, a teen drama like no other which deals with intense subject matter whilst keeping viewers entertained
Skins, released in 2007, told the stories of three generations of teenagers in Bristol during their sixth form years. I first watched Skins during year 11, and immediately became enthralled by the messy, chaotic lives of the characters. Despite the fact that the show ended in 2013, most teenagers I have spoken to are familiar with it, indicating that Skins has retained its relevance and appeal.
Something that set Skins apart from many of its teen drama show counterparts was the age of its cast. Many teen shows, such as Glee and Pretty Little Liars, have chosen to cast adults in their twenties as teenagers, which can result in an unrealistic representation of teenagers and can alienate their target audience. Contrastingly, many of the actors in Skins were the same age as the characters that they were portraying, such as Kaya Scodelario who was cast as Effy aged 14 in the first season. This helped Skins represent the lives of teenagers authentically and in a way which viewers could identify with.
Another aspect of the show which made it unique was how successfully it used a multi-stranded narrative structure. Telling a range of stories from the points of view of multiple characters is an ambitious task, but Skins managed to create distinct characters who developed throughout the show and had individual storylines which intertwined with each other in compelling ways to create the overarching storylines of each season. The opening scene of the first episode perfectly introduced the characters and established their relationships and the dynamics between them. The choice to include so many characters allowed the show to explore a huge range of topics which can affect teenagers, such as mental health problems, academic pressures, sibling rivalry and love triangles.
This is not to say that Skins necessarily dealt with all of these issues well: for example, I would argue that the show sometimes portrayed mental health problems in a romanticized way which benefits the male gaze, particularly in the case of Effy, whose character is primarily shown through the view of her male love interests.
Ultimately, however, the show was not afraid to confront troubling subject matters which helped it portray the realities of how difficult life can be. Although the show is harrowing at times, it maintains a perfect balance of heavy, emotional storylines with light-hearted, humorous and fun moments, and shows how people cope with grief in sometimes unusual ways.
I think Skins is an interesting show to revisit if you have watched it before. Sixth form or college is a time when teenagers have to make decisions about the future which can be daunting, and Skins captured this time of uncertainty very well, so re-watching the show is a way of reflecting on these experiences. If you have never watched Skins before, it is easy to become engrossed in the various gripping stories across the seven seasons of the show.
Searching for a bit of TV nostalgia? We’ve got you covered: