Skins Volume 1

Skins Volume 1
Real life. It seems easy to script but apparently it's not when it comes to television (and that includes "reality TV"). Barring the unparalleled accuracy of Degrassi, of course, Skins is as close as it gets to depicting the real shit that teenagers actually get into. Set in Bristol, England, the E4 series follows a group of friends experimenting with drink, drugs, love and friendship, often with no regard for the consequences. And, yes, naked bodies and potty mouths abound. Sounds like Gossip Girl, you say? Well, where that show assumes everyone has a trust fund waiting to be cashed in with a bender on their 18th birthday, Skins is middleclass dramedy that goes straight for the underage binge, all in a bid to curb the confusion, or simply just get a kit or two off. And how's this for a kicker? The actors are all real teenagers. 90210, eat your heart out. Concentrating on one character per episode, the show's arc gives an objective look at the cast and their growing pains, as they all behave in their respective manners. There's the obvious standard hierarchy: Tony (About A Boy's Nicholas Hoult) is the immoral hunk everyone loves; Michelle is Tony's beautiful girlfriend; Sid is the hapless loser who loves Michelle and idolizes Tony. But Skins is also edgy in its character development. Cassie is anorexic and mentally unstable; Jal is the headstrong daughter of a drum & bass star; Chris is a hedonist abandoned by his folks (though he is screwing his teacher); Maxxie is the token gay lad who breaks stereotyping with his normality; and of course, there's Anwar (Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire), a horny Muslim who feels shame over being best friends with Maxxie. And with these clashing personalities the drama comes hard and fast, nowhere more so than in the edgy "Effy," where Tony's kid sister is stuck in a nu-rave nightmare and dosed with crack and heroin. The bonuses are thoughtful additions. There are ancillary storylines present the characters in more light-hearted moments (highlighted by Jal's bone-headed grime-lovin' "bruvas" dropping a mixtape off to a radio DJ), and a series of silly and awkward video diaries by each character. (Warner)