Episode Six is similar to its British equivalent only in odd and comical manners. The British counterpart sends the group of friends to Russia, portraying it as a desolate and empty land – one in which the characters are isolated from the outside world and thus can further the inter-character development and plot. The American series’ correspondent to Russia? Canada. Ha. Ha. And, as if it would be impossible to have an episode about a Muslim taking an international trip without a cavity search joke, Skins obliges in the most subtle of fashions.
Yet the themes of the two episodes diverge in a major way. In the British Skins, Anwar, Abbud’s counterpart, is concerned with two major dilemmas, the first being his religion’s condemnation of his best friend Maxxie (Tea’s counterpart) and his gay lifestyle, and the second being his desperation to lose his virginity. Skins Americana, however, found it more appropriate to make Maxxie a female, thus adding sexual tension to the relationship to the two characters. But this is not what concern’s me.
What concerns me is how Skins seems to mitigate, perhaps even cheapen, the depths of teenage depravity. When asked where the weed is, Stanley reveals he has hidden it in his anus. While the British episode has plenty of quips about anal storage, what Sid is hiding are “drugs;” the ambiguity is sinister. Furthermore, Tony, Chris, Abbud, and Stanley go out looking for Shrooms, and it is patently obvious that none of them knows what they are doing. Unsure which fungus to eat, Tony takes charge: “Nibble, and if you feel a buzz, say something.” When this fails, they take to licking a toad they find. Disgusting, yes, but it provides an opportunity for my favorite line of the episode: “Every man, once or twice in his life, has to ask himself a question. How much do I want to get high?” Despite this clever witticism, it is very apparent that no one there knows what they are doing. This presents a sharp disparity from the UK series.
In the British series, drugs are commonplace. They provide neither drama nor plot. They are just there. The purpose behind their presence is only to demonstrate the reality behind teenagers and drug use. There is never confusion, there is never a character that doesn’t know how to roll a neat and professional spliff, and no one hides weed in their ass. Why? Because the show isn’t about seventh graders. It’s about seventeen and eighteen-year-olds with a wealth of drug knowledge. The American Skins fails to recognize this, and I, for one, am offended. A bunch of kids crowded around a toad, licking it, hoping to get high, is schoolyard shenanigans. A bunch of kids crowded around a toad, licking it, knowing they’ll get high is another matter entirely.
This continues to support my previous thoughts that American television is taking the reality out of Skins. Though I’m surprised at its tenacity at holding its place on the air, I am still relatively pessimistic about its future in America.