The ‘Skins’ Issue

Everyone is up in arms about MTV’s new show Skins. The program jumped across the pond from Britain, where it is currently about to start its fifth season, but then you know that everyone’s more calm about sin and skin over there. The Parent’s Television Council calls it “the most dangerous program that has ever been foisted on your children.” After last Monday’s very successful premiere, three companies pulled their advertisements from the show. We wait and wonder what MTV is going to do if things get further out of hand. Will they pull the show? Should they?

The PTC says that in 41 minutes of airtime, there are 42 references to drugs and alcohol in Skins. The bigger accusation is that the show is essentially child pornography considering the promotion of sex between the teenaged actors. Let me point out there aren’t actually any sex scenes in the first episode. There’s a lot of talk about sex, but no sex to speak of.

MTV's "Skins"

Things get a little tricky when you’re dealing with underage actors (the youngest cast member is 15), but so far no one is engaging in anything even close to pornography. No, what the PTC is actually so pissed off about is the lack of consequences and guilt on the part of Skins‘ characters. Where’s the moral compass on this show and WHAT is that teaching your children?

Oh grow up, PTC.

For once, it’s nice to see a show that doesn’t have a tidy little ending where everyone learns their lesson. Sometimes, life doesn’t have immediate consequences (although maybe sinking a luxury SUV in a lake would). Sometimes they don’t catch up with you until you’re in your twenties with a serious addiction or you don’t get into the college you planned to go to. The PTC would have every TV show give its characters regular slaps on the wrist so that they (and the teenage viewers) learn their lesson young and go on to be productive members of society.

I’m sorry Skins doesn’t deliver your usual level of Catholic guilt, but that’s not the problem with this show. MTV’s defense to all this backlash is to shrug their shoulders with mock innocence and insist, “But this is what teens do!” MTV, if this is your show, this is your show. As far as I can tell there’s nothing so wrong with it that it should be pulled off the air, but it is laughable to call it a sweeping generalization of teens’ lives.

I’m sure there are some kids somewhere that trade drugs for sexual favors, and I’ll take your word for it that there’s a high school where the prettiest and most popular girl shows up in heels and sort of dressed like a stripper, but that’s really not what all the kids are doing. It’s not even what most of the kids are doing. Some teens are well adjusted with stable (if not still sometimes annoying) parents that notice when they’re out all night every night. Those kids just don’t make for great TV.

So no, weed sales aren’t going to go up this week because everyone thinks Skins is a great show. Those who were already buying weed are going to continue to buy it and those who didn’t before watching the show aren’t going to be magically converted. The only change that will come from this media firestorm is Skins‘ ratings. And you can bet they’re going to go up.


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