How accurate is the protrayal of British youth in the TV series Skins?
March 4, 2009 9:50 AM   Subscribe

How accurate is the protrayal of British youth in the TV series Skins?

I love watching Skins, but at times it seems too exaggerated in the sense that every effing family is dysfunctional to the extreme, every adult person looks clueless about the world of their children or in the case of the teachers, their students. Not to mention the seemingly out of control drug and sex abuse. I am aware of the problems of the modern world, but i guess as a result of coming from a 3rd world country (Turkey), i find the portrayal in Skins a bit hard to believe, especially when they are just are 15-year-olds.

Just how accurate is it, and what is the situation in other countries?
posted by procrastinator to Society & Culture (12 answers total)

I haven't lived back in the UK for getting close to a decade now, but it all seems pretty damn familiar. I'd say that the portrayal is a little exaggerated but still fairly accurate.
posted by ob at 9:53 AM on March 4, 2009

I saw a lot of out of control drug abuse and sex when I was 15.* I live in the states, though, so I can't speak to the UK teen life. My son is 15, and he sees a lot of it around him, but bless him, he thinks it's dumb. I've seen a few episodes of Skins, and it didn't strike me as real, mostly because all the kids were acne free and had money. I think a safe bet is never to believe that what you see in a sitcom is really how it is.

*I was not at all involved in it. I swear. Really.
posted by routergirl at 9:56 AM on March 4, 2009

It's incredibly exaggerated. The amount of drugs they do and the combinations they do them in would send most people to the hospital, the adults seem to give them no rules or restrictions, there was a gangster who backed off the kids after losing at a chili pepper eating contest (??) and um, in the last episode there was a riot at school involving burning cars.

That said, there are a lot of drugs and sex at that age (they're 16, I think), and some parents really are just that clueless. I'm from New York City and not England, so Skins isn't my experience, but Kids was pretty close.

I think it's outrageous enough to be entertaining, but grounded in enough reality so that the intended audiences can identify with the characters and situations at their most basic elements. (The same can be said of analogous American programming like Gossip Girl and 90210--although both of those shows pale in comparison to Skins, which is probably the best "teen" drama I've ever watched. I'm not from Cali so I can't speak of how "real" 90210 is, but Gossip Girl is completely ridiculous at times--and I went to private school.)
posted by cosmic osmo at 10:44 AM on March 4, 2009

Yes, teens experiment with all kinds of crazy stuff but some don't and the teens in Skins definitely lead much more glamourous, exaggerated and interesting lives. It's in no way an accurate depiction of british teens, apart from whinging about being skint all the time...hmm that hasn't really changed for me.
posted by tokidoki at 10:47 AM on March 4, 2009

btw, I forgot to mention how much I love Skins, it's one of the best british tv series and I can't wait to watch season 3:)
posted by tokidoki at 10:51 AM on March 4, 2009

I live in the UK and I'm 21.

I wasn't involved in that kinda stuff, but I was aware of it going on.

Its definitely an exaggeration though.
posted by chrispy108 at 10:52 AM on March 4, 2009

Oh, and they aren't 15, they've just started Six-Form college, which makes them 16, turning 17 sometime this school year (September > August)
posted by chrispy108 at 10:53 AM on March 4, 2009

If the question is: do some British teenagers really drink, do drugs, and have sex to excess as per the portrayal in Skins? Then the answer is yes, some do, or near enough.

But most families aren't dysfunctional (or at least, according to what I've seen), and most adults know the kinds of things teenagers get up to. There is quite a lot of tacit consent for drug-taking and drinking under age in society, and I'll even go out on a limb and say that Britain is actually a more permissive society than it must seem from the outside.

However, no sitcom is accurate, especially one where the middle-aged writer is playfully pushing his restrospective views of teenhood, and for reasons of drama these are exagerrated lives he's portraying. No doubt there are a lot of teenagers who never come close to what happens in Skins, but it's not fantastical as though nothing like it ever goes on. (Of course, like routergirl said, most teens are spotty and poor, but let's not allow that to get in the way.)
posted by Sova at 11:12 AM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think the comments so far have it about right. Skins is reasonably accurate, though with the interesting bits hyped up and the boring bits cut down or cut out completely. I can't speak for the entire country, of course, but my friends and I regularly drank underage. Drugs weren't exactly prevalent — I knew plenty of people who smoked marijuana and occasionally took ecstasy, but very few who did anything more serious.

The portrayal of the adults as clueless and/or negligent is pretty damn spot on, I'm afraid to say. I'm at university at the moment, and a lot of people here still watch it. As a lot of people have already said, teenagers at that age aren't usually that good looking or rich — but people really do identify with the themes portrayed. For a more conventional drama of this type, you're probably looking for something like Hollyoaks, but it's appallingly dull and fairly terrible in quality.

I don't know if your question is dealing exclusively with the current (third) season, but if it is, I'd recommend you or anyone reading curiously to watch the preceding two seasons. The first season is really rather excellent and the second, while slightly less so, is suitably bleaker and no less engaging. The current season, quality-wise, has gone completely to pot, the characters are almost uniformly unsympathetic and two-dimensional and the plots are hideously contrived.

P.S. Cassie FTW.
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 1:04 PM on March 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm 24 and from Bristol, it's filmed in my old college, and I'd agree with ob's comment - it's pretty spot on (especially the weed smoking), just a tad exaggerated for comedic/entertainment's sake.
posted by saturnine at 12:01 AM on March 5, 2009

For a more realistic portrayal (not Hollyoaks!) check out The Inbetweeners, which Channel 4 showed last year.

Its about 4 guys the same age as the cast of Skins.
posted by chrispy108 at 2:42 PM on March 5, 2009

and Inbetweeners is a tad funnier...
posted by doogyrev at 12:03 AM on April 18, 2009

« Older What do I need to know about club flyers?   |   Have you had cataract surgery? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.