Thursday, February 24, 2011

Skins, duex.

So as you probably gathered from my last blog, I watch Skins. Series 5 has been quite interesting so far, even just to study in terms of storytelling--like the points I made in the last blog. My favorite character hands down is Franky, and I’d like to talk about her and some other, general observations.

I did a google search or something and came across this LGBT website where they were essentially talking about Franky’s androgyny and the fact that she is genderqueer, but there were also some very interesting reflections about skins as a whole.

Skins characters aren’t the impossibly clear-skinned, perfectly-haired, ingeniously-dressed, stick-thin, perfect-jawed plastics on 90210 — they look more like people we know. (Except Effy. Nobody knows anyone who looks like Effy.)

More importantly, the kids in Skins are usually fucked, alienated and often quite sad, though occasionally gifted with transcendent moments of reckless, often drug/sex-induced happiness.

But we don’t want to be the kids on Skins. Why would we pattern our behavior after a group of kids who — in addition to sporting an alarmingly high mortality rate — overdose, go to jail, get beaten up, fail out of school, get sick, get institutionalized, wreck cars, become homeless, get robbed, get hit by cars/paralyzed and repeatedly screw up relationships, friendships and families?

Viewers want to be like the characters on 90210 or Gossip Girl; they want those shimmery, easy lives of effortless beauty and impossible, free-floating wealth where dysfunction is always more foreplay than disaster. Viewers envy Gossip Girls’s consequence-free world of framed college degrees and dark, sexy furniture.

We want to be Kelly Taylor or Blair Waldorf.

But we’re already Emily Fitch.

We’re already Franky Fitzgerald.

It’s just that nobody cared enough to talk about us before now.

I just love this idea. I think it has so many applications for storytelling. I have often thought about the problems of writing about characters like these because I felt as though I needed to have a moral moment or something where they realized how messed up they were. But here’s the thing--I think they know. They just… don’t care. Their way of coping with being boring and plain and unextraordinary is a hedonistic dive into whatever makes them feel the most numb.

If you try and superimpose morality on characters like that you’re doing them a disservice. The thing is, everyone has a moral code. It’s always different, but we always have them. If the writer is trying to change the character’s behavior and the course of their lives by having a moment of morality, that’s actually almost doing the character a disservice. There’s nothing wrong with a character who lives recklessly.

This seems very fertile to me, and very interesting as well. I shall be exploring it in my own work very, very soon.


Anonymous said...

Exactly! I'm excited to see some of this exploring, and now I kind of want to start watching this show.

-- pardonm3

Meredith said...

Hey dude <3

Everybody says the first season was best. In any case it's the beginning, so start there if you do :)

Zomzara said...

You have Skins in the US? I didn't even realise that there was a 5th series!
Skins is an inspiration for teen fiction. Over here teen fiction is all a bit twee and a lot of teens hate reading. It's because they'd rather watch stuff like Skins. Skins is exaggerated. The stuff they get up to is not the norm, though obviously select groups in any 6th form will have similarities. Teen literature is heavily controlled. Swearing, drugs references and violence are usually extremely thin on the ground (though obviously there are exceptions). No wonder kids stop reading in favour of tv, when tv isn't afraid to give kids what they want and literature is terrified of it.

I agree that morals need not be spelt out, and certainly the author shouldn't comment on the morals of their characters. The reader needs to work it out for themselves. That's the whole point. The Skins characters are cool, but mostly people don't behave in this way, and the problems the characters get into teaches us why it might be a bad idea to do so, but it is not didactic. It's just a way of vicariously living through an experience and learning whatever you get from it without being dictated to.

I might look series 5 up on 4OD then.

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