Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An Aggressive Addiction (re: "skins")

  • Ok, so I know I don't post a lot anymore. My witty banter and unoriginal observations have been bombarding my Facebook friends as of late. I guess I like not having expectations hanging over me, what can I say?
  • My post today is about subject of TV addiction, specifically how Liz and I came to be regular watchers of that most Un-American of channels: BBCAmerica.
  • I honestly don't know how we first got started. Its rare to remember your first hit that clearly, its the "why" of coming back that matters. But, I'm sure it happened when we stopped to watch Gordon Ramsey (who as recently as 12mo ago, I couldn't stand) eviscerate someone on "Kitchen Nightmares," and I noticed that the British version was more amusing than what we got over here. First, the 'bleeping' is so poorly done, that you pretty much know everything that comes out of his Scotch pottymouth, and second, the incompetents in the UK are so much more colorful than the smattering of over-pierced, poorly tattooed, white boys with dreads that we have over here (please note: I'm intrigued by piercings in general, but what is it about fry cooks that they end up overdoing it so bad?).
  • Ok, so yeah enough about him. So, we must have gotten through that (presumably on a Sunday night when we were really bored), and I can only guess that we suffered [ :P ] through one of those horrible horrible (=wonderful!) documentaries like "My Big Breasts & Me," and on came something we had seen advertised before, a teenish dramedy called "skins." Its focus is on the last year or so before HS is over, and how college/adulthood awaits.
  • Ever since we saw our first episode, which was apparently #7 (from Season 1, 9 total), we've been hooked. I can't define as to exactly why. Its just that entertaining I guess. Guilty pleasure or not. I just know we were looking at each other the whole time, going, "is this happening, on tv?" Its been pretty much a constant since that Sunday night at 10pm, and most every Sunday night since. As we were watching them "live" to us, we just followed the sequential format that BBCAm was putting out, with Season 2 starting immediately after Season 1 ended. Don't worry, we'll go back to the beginning, I'm sure of it. (That's Sid below, definitely one of my favorites.)

  • A pretty interesting format awaited us. Not only was there a moderately large cast of characters to keep track of (9 main, with probably another 7-8 important ones), but the pace of the show was harder than most American TV drivel (read: FAST). Lots of inference as to what happened between episodes is apparently the norm, and sometimes you're left saying, "oh man I can't wait to see how X handles this," and boom, you just have to imagine it instead. I'm certain that's common elsewhere, but its just harder with the dynamic lives the characters lead. Its flashy, with appropriate music thrown in constantly, and good lord do these kids sleep around. (That's Chris below, the 'party animal,' he has some of the best one-liners in the series.)
  • I think ultimately, our sheltered TV watching existence, i.e. nothing really tamer than Basic cable (so no HBO, etc) did us in; it really set us up for this. The drug use, the language, the in-your-face sexuality (not that I complain), the equally fragile/damaged adult characters were just too seductive. Did I mention that they warn at the start of the show that its subtitled in English, as sometimes the slang and accents can overcome even the most street-learned of us all (its actually pretty useful sometimes)?
  • I've thus far refrained from linking to the obvious resources of information about the show, its Wikipedia page and its Channel E4 page. For one reason - the spoilers. I find I enjoyed the show more when I hadn't read ahead and learned the fate/direction of several characters. I'll put it here, but just be aware, there's nothing that crucial that you need to know to watch the show. Lizzie hates when I start to smirk as something important is developing on camera, she'll look at me, and yell out questions about fate, paths, and dammit why did I read ahead?!
  • Another fairly interesting tidbit about the show is that its written by young people, and of the main characters, only Tony was an actor previously (I even remember him from About a Boy = damn good movie, btw). For unknowns they're damn good. Also of note is the plan for Season 3. Only one character from the previous two seasons is returning, Tony's sister Effie. For an incredibly popular show (and multi-award winning), to shove off their stars at the height of the show's fame is a pretty ballsy move. Its like re-starting a new cast on Friends with only one semi-obscure character returning (think of lesser importance than Joey, we all know how that ended up....ugh). Here's a review(yar, thar be spoilers!) that summed up how I also felt about Tony, early on. For all intensive purposes, he is the main protagonist of the first two seasons.
  • Season 3 will also keep its eyes on the same transitional period in young people's lives, where coincidentally, choices & decisions matter. (That's Tony below, who you might come to hate, but will likely then reverse course.)
  • Finally I'll leave you with this: the actor that plays Anwar, who my wife and I find extremely hilarious is the star of the new hot *indie movie that will be on all top 10 lists,* Slumdog millionaire. Its probably worth checking out, just to see if good ole Anwar still glimmers in his eyes.

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