Television drama – Skins

The television series ‘Skins‘, first created and aired in the UK was a massive television hit, especially for teenager views.

It was popular for a multitude of reasons. It’s characters were alluring and fantastical, yet relatable and comfortingly human. It’s themes covered drugs, sex, alcohol, eating disorders, divorce, sexual orientation, “[tackling] pressing issues, such as mental health, teenage pregnancy and loathing your parents” (Guardian), and balancing all of these with your education, and it did so with a unique, quirky style.

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Image source.

It was a show filled with drama and partying, but at the same time many aspects were similar to issues viewers would have been dealing with. It was so relatable because it was stripped of glamour – there was no designer shoes or Range Rovers, it was realistic, mirroring average teenage life.

However, when it was remade into a U.S. series, it was very much a flop, cancelled after only 10 episodes. This is because, despite the production’s best efforts, the themes were not translated properly. First off, the American series was more heavily censored – it’s hard to portray the ugly truth of adolescence without nudity, drugs and sex – especially in the hyperbolic manner required of a drama tv series.

Many aspects of the show were also ‘Americanized’. Names changed from Cassie to Caddie, Anwar to Abbud, Effie to Eura. The dialogue in this process becomes very much forced – it is obviously difficult to change a script entrenched with English colloquialisms into something relatable to an American audience, especially as it was created as a “virtual scene-for-scene remake of the U.K. original“. Scenes become very awkward because of this, paired with the fact American television is by nature more hyperbolic and dramatised.

The American version of Skins could not compete. It lots its seamless and casual presentation and the themes were lost in translation.


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