18 11 2009

I should have been born British. Considering that most of the things I’ve obsessed over hail from way, way, way across the pond, I was highly likely a soot-stained Victorian urchin in a past life, begging for tuppence, thinking of pies. Every point in my development as a human bean involved British culture one way or another. Most of what I’ve read as a kid were by British authors or at least set in Britain — The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, every Roald Dahl story in existence. British bands were my music of choice — Oasis, Portishead, Blur, Suede, Massive Attack, Elastica, Radiohead, Pulp. Even my preferred TV drivel was British — Absolutely Fabulous,The Crystal Maze, Brittas Empire and, later on, Little Britain. I guess Mr. Belvedere counts too. I like my culture gloomy and twee, I like to appreciate things that are thickly glazed with an accent, I like that British people are such a lovely, perverse people.

So when I heard that MTV is currently developing an American version of Skins, I really wanted to punch somebody. Skins is the most awesome TV show about delinquent teenagers EVER. And it’s incredibly British in a heather-tinged, Topshop-clad, I-love-Hard-Fi kind of way. I’ve watched all three completed seasons on DVD over and over and over and am immensely impatient for the upcoming season. I am emotionally involved with 2/3 of all the characters to have ever appeared on the show. I cried like a bitch over Sid and Cassie, and Chris and Jal, and Effy and Cook. I don’t care if I’m not giving substantial background on the show right now; it’s best that you grab your own copy from your friendly (or ornery) neighborhood pirate.You can thank me after you’ve stopped convulsing from the first season’s finale. Skins is a delight and MTV’s plan to appropriate  it for a place that is not grey, nippy Bristol is — if I may borrow from the Brits’ sumptuous terminology — bollocks. Bollocks bollocks bollocks. Hairy, gritty, ungainly bollocks.

It was a miracle of the highest order that the Stateside version of The Office got it right. And that project was helmed by Steve Carell, who is a legitimate creative person. But MTV? The channel that got more and more tawdry the more it shed its beautiful, unorthodox past (Liquid Television! Alternative Nation! Aeon Flux! 90% of  airtime dedicated to full music videos!), emerging tanned, toned and like so totally set for Spring Break? They’ll just make something like The Hills, only poorer and exploitative of real social agendas. Granted the original Skins tackled chestnuts such as homosexuality and drug abuse, but there is a wry humor, or a quaintness, or yes, an actual intelligence to the rendering of these issues, and I highly doubt MTV can match the quality with a cast likely to compose of at least one wannabe rapper and at least one dude who still hangs on to Dashboard Confessional. God save the Queen.




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