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4 Shows like Skins: Teenage Kicks TV Style

Eileen O'Sullivan itcherIf school makes you think of rules, then you’ve not seen ‘Skins’. Sex, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, mental health issues, drug addiction, ‘Skins’ rewrote the ‘TV teen’ rulebook. ‘The Inbetweeners’, ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ and ‘The Misfits’ are all series like ‘Skins’. ~ Eileen O’Sullivan

‘Skins’: The Title – Naked Flesh or Reefer Papers?

There’s a whole heap of TV shows like ‘Skins’ (Company Pictures, 2007) on both sides of the Atlantic and some are better than others. The show broke TV ground by using many amateur actors to portray teenagers in their 6th form at school – and every two years saw a new cast of replacement pupils.
 
‘Skins’ aired in the UK in 2007 on E4, the more experimental sister channel to Channel 4. This TV teen show set in Bristol, South England pulled no punches. Created by a father/son writing team (Bryan Elsley/Jamie Brittain) it was plain from the start we were in for a ride.
 
The kids were out to shock, and they took it all in their stride. Clearly this was everyday fare for 16 – 18 year olds – though who knew? Parents shuddered across the land, and the show became instant must-see TV.
 
TV Series Like ‘Skins’ – Teenagers Telling it Like it is.
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‘The Inbetweeners’ (Bwark Productions, 2008)

Private school posh boy Will comes down in the world when his parents divorce and he is forced to attend Rudge Park Comprehensive School. His new schoolmates Simon, Neil and Jay teach him how to behave in the ‘real’ world – the world of pulling birds (or trying to) and being total plonkers.

Meanwhile Will has his own line in biting sarcasm to hide his feelings of sexual inadequacy. With a lighter approach to teenage angst than ‘Skins’, ‘The Inbetweeners’ is hilarious – if you like your gags to be non PC, juvenile and toe curling.

Similarity Match: 85%
Is ‘The Inbetweeners’ like ‘Skins’? Well it’s based on teenagers at school, being funny, outrageous and often out of it, so yes. It’s also far less ‘gritty’ or emotionally hard hitting.

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‘The Inbetweeners’ USA (Bwark Productions/Kapital Entertainment, 2012)

The USA version of ‘The Inbetweeners’ opened with a theme tune called ‘This Too Shall Pass’ – which was ironic as the show only lasted for one season. Is it just a cliché that UK humour doesn’t translate too well across the Atlantic?

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‘My Mad Fat Diary’ (Tiger Aspect Productions, 2013)

Rae is 16 years old and she weighs 16 stone. At the start of the (BAFTA award winning) show she leaves a mental health institution after four months in therapy. She goes back periodically and has two friendship groups, one in and one out of the institution.

The show is funny, poignant and hard hitting. In the first episode she says – “I can’t believe I’ve got a group of friends. I can’t believe I’m actually out. I can’t believe they actually think I’m getting better”.

Similarity Match: 80%
So is ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ like ‘Skins’? Well it’s well written, it portrays teenagers sensitively yet with irreverence and wit. It’s unlike ‘Skins’ as it concentrates on Rae, the main female protagonist and her fascinating diary.

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‘The Misfits’ (Clerkenwell Films, 2009)

Caught in a freak storm while doing community service, four juvenile delinquents (who look like refugees from Guantanamo Bay in their orange jump suits) gain super powers: Sexual magnetism (‘Alisha’) invisibility (‘Simon’), the ability to rewind time (‘Curtis’) and telepathy (‘Kelly’).

Their mate ‘Nathan’ is seemingly left untouched by storm powers – until the macabre twist at the end of Series 1. Mix it all up with sex, death, drugs and rock and roll and you have a pretty groovy TV show about ‘out there’ youth.

Similarity Match: 75%
Is ‘The Misfits’ like ‘Skins’? It’s slick and it’s about savvy young people’s lives/sexual relationships and hang ups. It’s not like ‘Skins’ because the savvy young people have super powers. That’s right – super powers! Oh and they’re not still at school.

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‘Skins’ Is the Original Teen TV Shocker, but Is It Still the Best?

Shows similar to ‘Skins’ vary in their screen appeal, but it seems that the UK versions have an authentic feel that makes swearing, sex and even violence seem not so much gratuitous, but funny, poignant and real.
 
There’s nothing ‘chocolate box’ about these shows and that’s what makes them so innovative and compelling.
 
What excites (or disgusts) you about series like ‘Skins’?
 
We’d love you to let us know.
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