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'Skins': Get the skinny on MTV's new series

A scene from MTV's new show,

A scene from MTV's new show, "Skins," premiering Jan. 17 at 10 p.m. Photo Credit: Handout

Since the dawn of TV, an essential disconnect has persisted between veteran writers and the teenagers they seek to portray, with precious few exceptions to prove the rule.

Yet while the current apex of the American teen heap is the erratic “Glee” and the histrionic, martini-swilling, 35-year-old “teenagers” of “Gossip Girl,” Brits have enjoyed perhaps the finest example of the form in “Skins,” the ensemble drama famous for its frank depiction of sex, drugs and self-discovery.

This year, the “Skins” creators bring their successful formula for hiring young, untested talent (in both the cast and writing room) to MTV, and surprisingly little is lost in the translation.

As with the American “Office,” major characters and plot lines are re-created, but new facets (such as lesbian cheerleader Tea replacing gay dancer Maxxie) freshen the story, and the guileless performances leave scant room for disappointment.

amNY takes a look at the new model to see how everything holds up:

Sex
“Skins” has always been refreshingly honest about the fact that teenagers are hormonal loose nukes, and the TV-MA rating of the US version means there is plenty to see, from lesbian hookups to comically obvious male arousal.

Drugs
It’s not “The Wire,” but the kids, especially the wayward Chris, have easy access to spliffs, pills, cigs and booze, and enjoy them at every opportunity.

Rock ’n’ roll
Every MTV show functions as a jukebox for new jams, and the new series savvily deploys the latest from indie bands like the Drums and Miniature Tigers.

Truth
If adolescence is the unfolding of the age where our faults define us, “Skins” is closer to a documentary than not. These teens lie, cheat, steal, snort and self-destruct. They also laugh, love, sing, dance and lift each other up. It’s the real deal.

Consequences
“Skins” has always steered clear of after-school-special territory, preferring to dole out the damage arbitrarily. If you cheat on your girlfriend, there will likely be trouble, but unlike a normal sitcom, not everyone who smokes a joint at school gets caught and learns their lesson by the hour’s end.

Catching up
With the fourth season of the UK series just released on DVD and the first three available for instant viewing on Netflix, it is easier than ever to develop — and satisfy — a full-blown “Skins” addiction.
• Season 1: Tony Stonem (Nicholas Hoult) enjoys his reign as top boy in class until a shocking twist tears it all away.
• Season 2: The best season to date: Tony’s pal Sid and girlfriend Michelle, along with the rest of the gang, struggle as life draws them apart.
• Season 3: A reboot of the show sees Tony’s previously mute younger sister Effy cast off girlhood and assume the social throne.
• Season 4: Family drama, deep depression and a drug-fueled suicide upend the circle of friends, sending Effy and the rest into a tailspin.

On TV: “Skins” debuts Monday at 10 on MTV.
 

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