I didn’t expect to like Skins. What I saw of the first series left me cold, so I skipped Series 2. That got better notices, but a quick skim through the on-line reviews suggests that this series hasn’t gone down as well - they all say it’s trashy, superficial and exploitative - as if that’s a bad thing!
I thought it was reminiscent of two great British film genres. Well, alright, one great one not so great. The former is my favourite unrecognised genre - The British Youth Movie. Films like Trainspotting. Quadropenia, Hard Day’s Night, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Tom Jones - Cool, irreverent, amoral, bawdy, a bit Rock and roll.
(It’s a peculiarly British genre, I think. The nearest Hollywood equivalent is the gangster movie - which is a telling difference. America’s cinematic rebels want to escape poverty by using violence to get rich. Ours want to escape the class system by having sex and getting wasted.)
Of course, Skins has no such sociological or political content. It’s not great art. The characterisation is as broad as the humour. In this way it resembles the Not-So-Great Genre - The British Sex Comedy. Films like the Confession series (The Carry On films were the PG version,) which Matthew Sweet points out in the best book ever written about British Film, Shepperton Babylon, had the distinction of being neither sexy or funny.
But Skin is genuinely funny and sexy. And that counts for a lot - too much TV is dull and/or worthy. Skins is fun. It may be a slightly guilty pleasure. But it’s a pleasure nevertheless.