This set contains all of the episodes from the first season (or “series” as it is termed in the UK). The show follows a standard teen drama format of a group of high school friends, this time from Bristol. Each token stereotype is covered in the main characters (the quirky girl, the party animal, the dweeb, the cool guy & girl, the ethnic guy & girl, the gay guy) and each receives their own episode to focus on them, with a few ongoing romantic plots stringing all of their stories together. Each of said episodes ends with the focus character coming to some sort of new advancement or revelation in their lives (Example: the character with an eating disorder bites into a burger).
The packaging has reviewers drawing comparisons between this show and Gossip Girl, as if Skins is the raunchier, overseas equivalent of it. The characters of Skins are at least not the privileged horde that infest North American teen dramas such as The OC or Gossip Girl, thereby making them a touch more relatable. At the same time, the situations and stories do get rather disconnected from reality. The beginning episodes wish to be more about real-life troubles, there’s even one about homework (sort-of), but by the time the teens are in an episode where they are being deported from Russia and held at gunpoint, the series loses touch with teen issues and starts to play out like a juvenile Melrose Place.
This show does not paint a very nice portrait of the people who populate Bristol, especially the adults. Skins tries its best to establish a distinct alienation from the adult figures by having them all be overbearing, absurdly crass, and utterly selfish. Meanwhile, it is actually the teens who are the most selfish with their destructive behavior and almost complete ignorance of their friends. There is not a single character, be it supporting, leading, or otherwise, whose first instinct is to NOT fly into an immature rage at the drop of a hat.
There is piles of nudity and foul language which makes it naturally “edgier” than its North American contemporaries, but does not necessarily make it too much better. The actors have some charisma, but all in all their charms can be pretty limited. This limitation can be troublesome since the stories rely on the characters too heavily for it to fully prevail, especially without a witty enough script.
Originally filmed in HD, the quality translates well to regular DVD. The aspect ratio is an enhanced 16:9. Filmed competently and with care, the extra bloom of light that most BBC productions, which are shot on location, seems to have looks clean and well composed.
The menus are sharp and each discs features a different edit of the same party scene. Said scene never occurs in the actual show and so I found myself watching it the whole way through at least once or twice every time.
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. Nothing too fancy but it was made with some professionalism as the sound is very clear, but just not as full bodied as it could have been considering the efforts they made with the enhanced aspect ratio of the screen size.
The soundtrack is not overloaded but the songs that do appear sound good. The dialogue is plenty understandable, save for some UK slang here and there (such as the term “skins” which they use to describe smoking papers), whether one is familiar with the accents or not.
Subtitles available in English only.
No features on disc 1 or 2
Additional stories, one for each episode in the season. Most all of them are comedic and amusing, including one with a porn star cameo and another that breaks the fourth wall completely. Perhaps the most entertaining of all the stories is one entitled “Shoot’em Up Bang Bang Props to the Hood” which takes the Jive Speak gag from Airplane! and turns it into a short film where both street slang and “proper” English is translated back and forth through subtitles for the audience.
A cavalcade of the characters making corny but amusing amateur videos for some sort of fictional time capsule (I think) which originally aired online (no doubt for promotional purposes). Just like her role in the show and her contribution to the “Ancillary Storylines,” the character of Effy’s diary entry is quite strange and does not mix with the others at all. In these diaries is another chance to see Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel goof around as Anwar (a bit of trivia there).
This show spends most of its time preying on teenager’s insecurities and creating easy enemies out of all the parents, as there is not a single good parent to be found (an argument could be made for Anwar’s and Jal’s, but even then there are difficulties). Meanwhile, Skins only manages to have fun when the situations are slapstick.
The acting is fair and is complimented by some swell cinematography and directing. This show was massively popular in the UK and makes for an easier pill to swallow than Gossip Girl and its North American ilk. Having been able to sit through this whole series I know it has more going for it than the average teen drama but it is still plagued by the conventions of the genre.
I will give this show one final credit. Even though the central character, Tony, is obnoxiously cocky (the leading teen drama archetype) and looks like a pretty-boy version of Hugo Weaving (in my eyes), he is a part of a wonderful surprise at the series’ conclusion that I dare not give away for it is worth viewing it with no knowledge of what is in store.