In 2007, Bryan Elsley — working alongside his son, Jamie Brittain — created “Skins,” a drama that took British television by storm, thanks in no small part to its whip-smart writing, gritty feel and willingness to go there, unflinchingly covering topics like sex, sexual identity, substance abuse and mental health issues. In short, it was the kind of television that resonated with teens and critics alike, raising controversy along the way.
In the years since its initial premiere, “Skins” gained a cult audience here in the U.S., where the British version also ran on BBC America, and in August 2009, it was announced that Elsley would be partnering with MTV to create a Stateside version of the show. And on January 17, “Skins” finally premiered … to record-setting numbers, and a new round of controversy and critics. Now, Elsley has decided to respond in a statement released exclusively to MTV News on Monday.
WHY I CREATED SKINS
Skins is a very simple and in fact rather old fashioned television series. It’s about the lives and loves of teenagers, how they get through high school, how they deal with their friends, and also how they circumnavigate some of the complications of sex, relationships, educations, parents, drugs and alcohol. The show is written from the perspective of teenagers, reflects their world view, and this has caused a degree of controversy both in the UK and the USA.
In the UK, viewers and commentators very quickly realized that although there are some sensational aspects to the show, Skins is actually a very serious attempt to get to the roots of young people’s lives. It deals with relationships, parents, death, illness, mental health issues, the consequences of drug use and sexual activity. It is just that these are characterized from the point of view of the many young people who write the show and has a very straightforward approach to their experiences; it tries to tell the truth. Sometimes that truth can be a little painful to adults and parents.
Consequences do flow from incorrect or selfish behavior but in the show, these are shown to be unexpected, hard to predict, and more to do with the loss of friendship than anything else, which in any context, is a disastrous outcome.
We proceed from the idea, not that teenagers are inherently likely to misbehave, but rather that they are intensely moral and disposed to make judgments on their own and others’ behaviour. Sometimes, but not always, they get things wrong. In this teenagers are remarkably similar to adults. Their morals may not be the same as those of their parents and teachers, but they are nevertheless, highly developed and active in their world.
When viewers have taken the time to watch the show in a little more depth, they are less concerned about the behavior of the characters. Teenagers can be loyal, supportive, dedicated, focused, and capable of making informed value judgments about their lives. In the pilot episode of Skins, it’s possibly easy to overlook the story wherein a young boy sets off to a party to sell drugs and have sex, but in fact, does neither of these things, because, he senses that he has been manipulated by friends and does not feel ready to have sex with someone he does not know properly.
Skins is a traditionally made television series which has won countless international awards and gained a worldwide audience for stories about the joy, misery and challenges of being a teenager. The show has been used in anti-drug campaigns, has drawn praise for its portrayal of mental health issues and explorations of bereavement, sexuality, bullying and gender stereotyping.
I have lost count of the letters we have been sent by viewers who tell us that they have been able to approach their parents or teachers with their difficulties after watching the show. It is something that we take a great deal of pride in and which can unfortunately be eclipsed by some of the negative attention.
Our approach is not careless. We’ve created a supportive and protective environment for everyone working on the show. And of course abide by the law, and give respect to our work colleagues who in this case, are young energetic and exciting people with so much to offer to an imperfect world.
i love this man. every creator ryan murphy and josh schwartz of any television series should learn from him.
exactly! it was written not to be sexual but to be highly comedic and a tiny bit heartbreaking. who gets turned on by a kid who was just kicked out of his own house after being abandoned by his parents, lost all his clothes and belongings and had to walk down a street to find somewhere else to…
The police shut the line so I’m not sure why people are angry at MTV or the show. For everyone that got in - thanks for making it so great. For everyone who didn’t - sorry, that sucks. Sometimes things don’t happen the way you like. Even people who actually worked on the show for months were denied entry after the cops shut the line. Hope you can make it to the next one.
The internet is mad. I get it. A LOT of people tried to get in to that warehouse and didn’t make it. A LOT of people went to Brooklyn and not the actual location on the lower west side. (On a sidenote though, you have the internet at your fingertips and MTV gave you the address. People always…
I have the strangest forms of OCD. I just sat at my desk in a daze voting for this Jarrod Gorbel video until it went up at least 1% in the current standings. I was twelve years old all over again. I don’t think I will ever lose the talent of procrastination. I think because I was on an MTV site, I…
The Parents Television Council, puritanical keepers of wildly fallacious notions of abstemious and fun-hating youth, released a statement today calling the upcoming U.K.-to-U.S. transplant teen soap Skins “the most dangerous television show for children that we have ever seen.” Ignoring the fact that MTV has given the show the most restrictive M.A. (Mature Audiences Only) rating—the same one used for softcore porn on late-night cable, and one which explicitly states that the program is inappropriate for anyone under 17 years of age—as well as the continued existence of the grating and whiny Canadian cartoon Caillou, what is it exactly that makes the P.T.C. find this series so menacing? …
He seems well aware of who and what he is. It’s the people that take his intellectually unsound and incurious message to heart that seem to be unclear as to his purpose. See also: Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. (via tj and chrismenning)
With MTV’s Skins set to debut on Monday, the Parents Television Council on Thursday called it “the most dangerous show for teens.”
"Despite the MA-rating for Skins, MTV appears to be deliberately targeting teens with its marketing campaign," said PTC president Tim Winter. “Skins may well be the most dangerous show for children that we have ever seen.”
Added Winter: “The marketing campaign itself makes light of lying to parents and participating in all manner of harmful, irresponsible, illegal and adult-themed behavior. The trailers we have seen thus far make sexual objects of almost every single one of its characters and asks not only for viewers to approve, but to actively participate by posting their own secret stories.”
Love love love Richard Lawson’s recaps - especially this one from the last episode of RHOBH:
Camille was taunting her cruelly, saying “Get in the pool, c’mon, get in the pool,” and finally Kyle did the only cool thing she did all episode, which was she just up and jumped into that motherfucking pool in her clothes. Good for her. The Maloof’s husband was excited by this so he went “Huh huh pool” and pushed his wife in. They were all electrocuted by their mic-packs and floated facedown in the pool, gently bumping up against each other as someone in the distance screamed and screamed. Everyone laughed and the sun sparkled in the ‘bu sky and the afternoon ambled away from us.
professionalism in theater 101
Excerpts from a mass e-mail seeking actresses for a “project.” It kicks off “Happy 2011 Girls” and continues to get better/worse after that.
“There’s a big role for a girl that we are looking for a cool as shit talented actress to be in it. If u are free and interested let me know and we will send u the script.”
“FYI- we are wild, ridiculous fine young gentlemen artists who drink and smoke and piss on expensive cars late night in manhattan. We won’t ever ask u to break the law with us, however we do not care about a lot of the things some ‘new’ theatre people who have come to NYC to care about.”
“Please have a Wild spirit, risk taking capacity, open heart, and decent technique. Should we hold auditions they would be within the next week in a wild loft apartment in Bushwick.”