Good Girls Go Bad

Posted on February 9, 2011 by

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Recent UK-transplant “Skins” is the latest and greatest threat to our country’s youth. Imagine what people would have to say if they watched the real deal.

By Anna Wiegenstein

No bigger turn-on than parental disapproval, I always say.

I was a good kid in high school. Perhaps it was my location, a conservative district within a blue state, but in retrospect, I was about as straight-laced as the antagonist in Easy A, (minus the Jesus part). The closest I got to illegality was the time my friends and I covertly watched a guy get high in one of our city parks from afar.

When not preparing for “Hello Dolly!” or captaining the Scholastic Bowl team, I, like everyone I knew, turned to TV in my spare time. But even there, I was still pretty goody-goody. My most relatable character was Dawson Leery due to his film fixation – too bad no one liked him, and his legacy is now an unattractive crying scene. Meanwhile, the show I chose to devote my heart to – “Roswell” – was one with no bearing in reality at all.

In summary: Nothing in my life has ever resembled “Gossip Girl.” Now, I’ve been informed that the television landscape is more dangerous than ever.

“It makes Gossip Girl look like Lambchop,” this incredibly well-coifed anchor informs us of MTV’s “Skins.” Both have been issued firm reprimands from the Parents’ Television Council (the TV equivalent of being sent to bed without dessert?), both were hashed over on “Good Morning America.” The fact that the PTC seems to have more problems with the three-way on “Gossip Girl” rather than the part where Chuck prostitutes his girlfriend is thesis-worthy in and of itself.

E4, the television channel that houses “Skins” in the UK and Ireland, aims much of its programming towards young viewers, whether it’s by importing US teen series like “The O.C.”, “Smallville”, and “Glee,” or through its own original shows. Whether or not the upstanding values of MTV’s own programming have been transmitted to London, I’m not sure.

MTV: Doing my work for me since 2011.

Along with “Skins,” E4 is the home of “Misfits” and “The Inbetweeners,” thus branding the channel a kind of edgy-WB (or CW, I guess). The tendency of UK television to have far fewer commercial breaks allows it to exist outside the fear of advertising falling through that’s plagued MTV in the last month. Things haven’t reached the point of blatant product placement yet, but “Skins'” struggle with its sponsors has become a news staple for the past few weeks, right alongside whatever injuries the Spider-Man stage production has caused.

Both “Skins” and “Gossip Girl” belong to that rarified class of programming that claims to capture a zeitgeist without even skimming the surface of reality. And in MTV’s case, it’s hard to avoid that the channel has somehow managed to take what was already a ridiculous-yet-captivating show and erasing the grubby charm that made the original worth sticking around for. Two of the three episodes aired thus far have been identical copies of the UK series’ shows, and judging from the trailers, much more direct quotation lies ahead. Advertisers and the PTC should feel free to relax – for as many people who may be watching “Skins” and viewing it as a documentary, there have to be at least an equal number of people like myself, both high school-aged and today.

Without a compelling member in the cast (certainly no one to measure up alongside Joe Dempsie or Nicholas Hoult), tuning into “Skins” is an epic downgrade from the equally-fictional group on “Jersey Shore.” And while the NJ boardwalk is a fun enough place to visit onscreen, the world of “Skins” is bland enough to turn kids away from the characters’ lifestyle all on its own.

Who on Earth would ever yearn to be so boring?

Anna Wiegenstein

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