February 11, 2008

Ollie///Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (Skins Review)

A requiem for the heart, a song for the soul…

I was so happy to see those credits again and as the name of the show appeared on screen, the excitement inside bubbled up. After watching the first episode of series two of Skins, I had to sit down and collect my thoughts. To sum it up in one word, WOW. But it’s not that easy. The landmark drama on E4 about the chaotic lives and lusts of a group of teenagers living in Bristol stormed onto our screens last year with the return of Nicholas Hoult (whom we last saw in ‘About A Boy’) except this time, his fringe was cut, his age had increased and the vulgarity of his language had certainly expanded. A cast of virtually unknowns joined Hoult as the writers of Shameless wrote this comedy drama revolving around these teens’ lives. As well as the day-to-day teen angst, the writing was full of stereotypes, which although some people laugh at and push under the carpet, they do happen. The typically Muslim family as their son tried to rebel, the gay dancer who was starting to come into his own, the best friend who always tried a little too hard and the flirty girlfriend who all the guys wanted. This was just a selection of the treasure of characters in Skins. After the thrilling season finale last year, we were left on the cliffhanger, was Tony going to survive his grave car collision or was he going to be just another ones of those who died under the stars?

This year we were promised more drama, more controversy and more meaning behind the characters. Last year's group are joined by some new faces as well as the series-giving host to some brilliant guest stars (Bill Bailey, Shane Ritchie) we are in for a journey. The first episode aired and what a way to begin a series. Set some time after the last episode we see that Tony did survive but not without his drawbacks. This is not the Tony we grew to know last year, this is someone completely different and here is the first major highlight of the series. The acting from this group is flawless; they never fail to evoke the right emotion with the audience and sometimes they hit a note of personal history.

Similar to the last series, each episode will contain stories about all the characters but will draw attention to one specific each time. The first episode was about Maxxie- although we did not see much of the dancer in the last series, the writers have promised that he will be used to the best of their abilities this year. Being the only one left is hard and he learns that when all the friends leave him to look after Tony, as they can’t deal with the consequences of their past. He has to look after him when he’s out and make sure he returns home. Although the writers picked times for comic hysteria (near the beginning when Tony is having trouble on the toilet, enter Maxxie’s mum) they also manage to persuade the audience to look from a different point of view and so if people are coming back to this series, for the sex or the parties then I think they will be surprised to learn that with time the writers have become more confident and therefore are able to explore the characters in further depth. Last year laid the groundwork, this year; they can put them up high and tear them down.

Maxxie realises that he wants to leave college to pursue his dancing career but his dad (Bill Bailey) wants his son to get qualifications and then join him on the building site, there is a clash of opinions. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this year, the recording of Skins holds much more beauty than the previous. From the rooftop dancing of Maxxie to the underground rave, the director knows what he is doing, the colours marching across the screen scream out for attention.

Skins, one of last year’s top gems seems set to go even further this year, an enjoyable view of
life and definitely one to looks out for, teens and adults alike.

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