Popular teen drama Skins kicked off once again for its third season last Thursday on E4, back with a brand new line up. Placed under the watchful eye of original cast member Effy, this season looks set to entertain and shock. Taking on a similar format to the previous, each week we find out about one of the characters from this new group of friends.
With the comical cast introductions taking place on the first day of college, we meet JJ, Cook, Freddie, Naomi and twin sisters Katie and Emily. The three boys, best friends, are thrown onto our screens instantly as the geek (JJ), the chav bad boy (Cook) and the edgy Mr. Gorgeous (Freddie). The programme literally starts with a bang as Effy’s dad crashes his car thanks to Cook. With the bump we also re- meet the enigma herself, and watch as all the men drool over her. Effy’s got a check list of school rules that can’t be broken – but, of course, they immediately are, resulting in missed classes, a fire in a locker and her and Cook getting it on in the medical room. Has she met her match, or is he not quite man enough? Now to the girls, identical twins and a blonde. There’s a curious vibe between one sister and the blonde, and I think I can predict a lesbian story line. All three are quirkily pretty, moulded by years of what only can be described as rivalry and hatred. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
It is difficult when watching this new season to not compare it with the previous two, even though the cast has completely changed. It’s a new year of sixth formers and so it’s new rules: new sex, new drugs, new rock and roll. I remember watching the first ever episode of Skins and being hooked instantly by the way they introduced the cast. The dynamic that held the whole programme together was so contagious that you couldn’t miss the next episode. With the initial opening of the third season (fit Freddie on a skateboard) I was impressed with the edgy and controversial way they were pulling the viewers in after only two minutes. But then we meet JJ and Cook, and the group just doesn’t gel with the audience. The friends felt new and unfamiliar with each other. Despite the fact that the individual characterisation is incredible and very funny, the characters play too much to their extremes for it to be a believable friendship or an understandable bond. The way Effy returns, however, is fabulous. She’s smouldering, smart and sexy and instantly rules what was her brother’s roost. Her character is still as much a mystery as it was previously, and so she alone is the pull for the next episode.
The music and fashion is current and as fresh as ever; once again the writers have found that fine line between jokes and too many jokes. They play fantastically with silence within the crudeness of the humour. Skinning up and drinking in the middle of the day before college is arguably joked over without contemplating the seriousness of actions, and with that I can understand how this programme is not perhaps everyone’s cup of tea, but then again there are enough adverts to scares us into using condoms and knowing our alcohol limits. Skins is about havoc-wreaking teenagers who realistically don’t put safety first, and that’s why it makes great television.
Perhaps the fact that the first season shocked audiences and the second season moved them makes it difficult to connect with this season initially, as we haven’t let go of what once was. The college itself appears to be more of a feature this time round. My only concern is that it could turn into something very ‘American’- which it prided itself on not being – or a disturbing Grange Hill: The Sex Tape. However if it’s still winningly feisty, humorous with a youthful kick and outrageously current then why shouldn’t we be lured in? The coming together of all these characters is exciting but it’s the direction they choose to take from this point on that will be what makes or breaks this season. However questionable it is, it’s still worth keeping an eye on because no doubt it will surprise us.