The kids that your parents warned you about- Skins
Here is what you need to know about Skins. It was originally a short story written by Jamie Brittian when he was 15. Sid and his father are characters based upon Jamie and his dad. The first and foremost character to have been created was Tony Stonem. Luke Pasqualino who plays Freddie in the second generation originally auditioned for the role of Tony and was cast as an extra in the second trailer. The part then went to Nicholas Hoult. The most prominent character of Effy Stonem, played by Kaya Scoldelario appears in all seasons except for season 5 and 6. The only other character to have made it to more than two seasons is character of Pandora played by Lisa Blackwell. The Skins cast all consisted of people who had no previous experience with acting. Skins was a breakthrough for all of the people involved. The writers for Skins throughout were an average of 21 years of age.
Skins (UK, and not US, god forbid) is a vintage. And for all we know pretty relate-able. Skins is raw, it’s funny, it’s deep and there’s more than many characters with a diversity you’ll feel pretty attached to.
TV shows that make use of high school drama and teenage angst are usually train wrecks and you wouldn’t look back at any thinking you had a good time. Skins is nothing like that. There are 7 seasons. You get to see one generation of characters in two seasons. There are 3 generations. The seventh season is a comeback for the characters of Cook (Skins Rise), Effy (Skins Fire), Naomi, Emily and Cassie (Skins Pure).
Skins has created unforgettable characters.
The first generation gave us Tony Stonem and what you should love about this character is that it’s a guy with everything (he’s got looks, he is popular, he is intelligent, he is dating the hottest girl in town Michelle) who loses everything and then has to get it back. What you’ll find in both the Stonem siblings is the ferocity. They have earned their place. They are as perfect as people say they are and where they fall short is exactly why you know they are not ordinary. Tony comes with a mortal flaw and that is the fact he gets bored. He believes things run their course and in order to keep it interesting he ends up doing things that hurt people.
Michelle (April Pearson) appears to be self-confident with a side of intelligence that is quite similar to Tony and yet she was created with insecurity. Sid (Mike Bailey) who completes the triangle is a complete screw up who finds himself looking up to Tony but later comes to realize there are things that Tony should look up to him for.
There’s Chris (Joe Dempsie), a character you really wish wasn’t as endearing as it became. Chris is the definition of not giving a f**k. His mom abandons him one fine morning leaving behind a suspicious amount of money. He is taken in by the school that he is enrolled to live in a dorm room but soon he gets expelled from there. This is when he finds Jal (Larissa Wilson) and they make a pact that he would work harder if she would try to enjoy more. Jal brings in the element of teenage pregnancy to Skins. She is mature, self-aware and understanding. She criticizes how Tony treats Michelle as a simple conquest and how Sid isn’t attentive of Cassie. She understands that Chris cannot blame everything on having a dysfunctional family because he isn’t the only one.
Cassie, played by Hannah Murray is the odd one. She is idealistic and susceptible to her surroundings. She instills a powerful depiction of battling eating disorders as well as mental illness.
She is wise beyond her years and yet she is too sensitive to make use of it. We see time and again her tendency to run away from trauma then to face it. She likes Sid and develops a very close friendship with all the characters of the first generation specially Jal and Chris. Cassie should be on your list of favourite characters from Skins, it’s only fair.
The second generation of Skins is a better retelling. It’s evident that a lot more work and effort was put in creating this cast. The season starts off with Freddie. He likes skateboarding, has been friends with the same two people since he was a child: JJ and Cook. You can tell a lot about him from his choice of friends. JJ (Ollie Barbieri) is suffering from autism which means he has to be taken care of. JJ is the one that tells the truth and he gets to witness a lot more honesty from others because around him very few people feel the need to pretend.
Cook (Jack O’ Connell) on the other hand is explosive, aggressive, impulsive and with an almost psychotic tendency towards conflict and destruction. He obviously loves his friends but he isn’t capable of envisioning how his actions will impact others and that makes him one of the most beautifully conflicted characters. He can almost beat Effy to being complicated. Throughout the series we see crossovers of Chris from generation one and Cook.
They both have dysfunctional families which they trace their abandonment issues back to. They both went to the same school and got the same dorm room that they then got expelled from, for pretty much the same reason. Cook isn’t a revised version of Chris, they have similarities but Cook is written with a lot more anger and amazingly so, potential. You don’t need a better reason than Cook to watch Skins.
Effy was cast for the second generation because she was youngest in the first generation. We see that she is drawn to things with a side of danger. We see that she does not respond well to emotions as she feels everything with an unimaginable severity.
She clams up and acts out in a toxic and unhealthy ways which we can see from what she puts Freddie and Cook through. Surprisingly when it’s not her emotions in question she can sort things out and give the best possible advice. She sorts things out for Michelle and Tony, Sid and Cassie, she believes in Naomi and Emily before they even have it figured out themselves. She helps Pandora out as much as she can with Thomas even when Pandora hooks up with Cook. She even get along with Katy despite being hostile towards her at first. She understood better than her mom what lying about the affair would do and tries to convince her into telling the truth. She hides how important certain people are to her by pretending to be detached and uninterested. She isn’t good at talking about things and she way too good at playing mind games. She is pretty close to her brother and when Tony get run over by a bus we see for the first time any sort of emotion in Effy. There is depth to the character of Effy and from the very first appearance she becomes a focal point in Skins.
Effy has feelings for Freddie but she feels that this made her weak.
She has feelings for Cook as well but for the most part we see her toying with him.
Pandora is probably the first friend Effy has ever made and it’s quiet something to see how Pandora earns herself that place. Pandora joins Skins as someone completely inexperienced yet utterly fascinated. Effy takes her under her wing and of course she is drawn to the profanity, drugs and danger of it all. Yet Pandora as an in-exhaustive enthusiasm to her. She cares about Effy and wants her to accept that she isn’t completely useless. Effy is strangely attentive and concerned about Pandora, a sentiment that we haven’t seen her give anyone since Tony.
Pandora gets the credit for being the only one to put it into words that Cook does not belong to Effy because he doesn’t belong to anyone and that she is useless but she isn’t nothing.
The portrayal of the twins Katy and Emily Fitch (Kathryn and Megan Prescott) in Skins is quite amazing. At first sight it just seems like Emily has lived under the shadow of Katy forever but later as the seasons enfold you get to see more of the bond they share, how Katy needs Emily and how Katy is among the very few who understand Emily’s sexuality. The best part about these two characters is how defined the differences between the two are yet how similar their struggles are in finding more about themselves.
Naomi (Lily Loveless) has rebellion in her which is constantly subdued by her fear. She is the sort who fights for justice and wants to fight for her herself and Emily. But accepting the way she is and then staying true to Emily becomes difficult for her when she starts to feel there isn’t going to be anyone but Emily. She is scared of her relationship with Emily because she doesn’t want to be a slave to it.
I think it’s admirable how Effy’s character is supportive of them even before they are supportive of themselves. Naomily is one of the things that makes Skins so precious.
Thomas (Merveille Lukeba) is to Jal whatever Chris was to Cook. Thomas is charming, mature, understanding, and he takes responsibility. He makes friends in the most unexpected places and admires their help. There is something more independent about Thomas than the rest of the Skins cast, his life does involve the rest of them but somehow things that happen in his life are just so far away from what happens in the lives of his friends.
The third generation I’m not familiar with because I don’t know, I jumped to the seventh season to see what happened to them as adults and after that I didn’t get around to watching Skins again. But the trailer below should be good enough reason for you to go ahead and watch it.
I probably left out a few fun facts and characters. If you’d like to share something about your favourite characters, or moments from Skins comment below.
featured image credit: Tv.com