So, that’s it. Finished. Down goes the curtain. Last night (or Monday night if you’re reading this at a later date) saw the definitive conclusion to one of British Television’s most genre defining and innovative shows. No, not Doctor Who. Skins.
These past few weeks have seen the show draw close three of the show’s most popular characters, in what was seen to be incredibly dark, complex, character driven stories that rounded out our characters full circle, and saw them move on to an uncertain future, positive or negative. The show’s seven year run has seen television for young audiences go through a radical change, with Skins leading the charge.
Now that the show’s over, its now time to reflect on the impact Skins has had on British television, as well as the groundwork it has now laid for other teen programmes to come in the future. With that, On The Box presents five reasons why Skins is and eventually will be an important show in the history of British television.
1) The use of the Multiple POV device
What initially worked for this show from the very beginning was the clever idea of putting the audience inside the minds of 21st century teenagers, and how they view the world from their perspective. And its not just one POV, it’s from dozens. Skins give us a wide range of characters that hold different personalities; different fashion styles; and provide the audience with different stories to tell.
It’s a tool that’s continued on with various other television shows including HBO’s Game of Thrones (though, the POV formula was already established in the books.) It’s a great tool to give us access to a variety of interesting, complex characters with their own stories to tell, and lead us on their own evolving character arc throughout the series.
2) The first true teen drama on British TV
Looking back to a time before Skins, there hadn’t been a true teen drama that captured the audience’s imagination quite like Skins. The only two shows that ever garnered such a sizeable audience in its time was CBBC dramas Grange Hill & Byker Grove.
But whilst these shows did deliver issue led storylines, they weren’t shows that truly grasped the idea of what life was like for a teenager back then. Skins broke new ground when it debuted in 2007, trying something new on television, and dividing critical opinion in the process. But over time, its impact managed to bring in more successful teen shows in the UK, with the biggest successor being E4’s smash hit comedy The Inbetweeners.
3) Cast success beyond Skins
Most of the cast of Skins were unknowns. The show held open auditions to find its young stars, and did so all across the country. It was a huge risk, but one that has now paid off massively, with a large chunk of the cast finding acting success post Skins.
Nicholas Hoult is now establishing himself in Hollywood, with a role in the latest X Men, as well as starring in zombie comedy Warm Bodies.
Kaya Scodelario is getting serious respect for her TV roles, and has started building her own Hollywood career with upcoming films The Maze Runner, and Emmanuel & The Truth About Fishes.
Other stars that have moved onto bigger things are Hannah Murray, Joe Dempsie, Dev Patel, Jack O’Connell, Lily Loveless, Dakota Blue Richards & Freya Mavor. It’s concrete proof that Skins has been the launching pad for some very interesting new stars.
4) Tackling Issues Affecting Young People
Skins has been the type of show to never shy away from the real issues affecting young people today. Many issues have been covered in the series such as mental illness, eating disorders, and the seemingly ever present theme of LGBT relationships, and how other people perceive them. The stories have been well written, as well as brilliantly performed to its target audience, by its target audience. People on social media seemed to respond well to what Skins was showcasing, and raised awareness of some very important issues, which had been ignored by UK society.
5) Making digital television compete with terrestrial television
Before Skins, digital television was trying to lure audiences in with original programming. The problem was that digital TV and these new channels weren’t finding any shows that were bringing in huge numbers. It was Skins that was the first show to bring much needed buzz to E4, and get people (mostly TV critics) to sit up and recognise.
Fast forward a few years, and digital television has created itself a nice platform to compete with the main five terrestrial channels, and offers a fresh alternative to alienating audiences, who grow frustrated with the lack of competition.