The universal blog-census of MTV’s Skins on Monday night was extremely negative. Despite strong ratings, we all bemoaned how the show just completely ripped off the British version -as if it was supposed to do anything else? – but did it way worse (okay, fair). Our inner Anglophile came out as we snubbed our noses at this crass reinterpretation of the oh-so-high-brow themes like “sex,” “pooping,” and “taking Ecstasy.”
Lets give it a rest, guys. If television history has taught us anything, it’s that with a little time American remakes of British programs can become very successful as soon as they stop trying to be exactly like their source material.
Think way back to 2005, when the The Office premiered on NBC, with an episode that was an American duplicate of the cult Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant show. Critics complained, and fans of the British Office immediately panned it for getting lost in the translation. New York Daily News called the Steve Carell version “so diluted there’s little left but muddy water” and the Guardian Unlimited said that the man we’d come to know as Michael Scott was “trying too hard.” Sounds a lot like the complaint we’re getting about Skins, right?
But we gave The Office a couple more episodes, and by the second season the show had departed almost completely from its grittier, more painfully awkward British counterpart. It no longer seemed like an imitation: it was its own entity that included a bigger cast and more plot lines to follow. And though we still might argue on which show is ultimately “funnier,” at this point it’s like comparing apples to oranges because they bear such a slight resemblance to each other. And after Ricky Gervais’ bombing t the Golden Globes, that’s probably a good thing.
So lets give Skins another chance, and another, and another. Let the show, like a wayward teenager, learn from its own mistakes and shed its former identity like a pair of last season jeans. The worst thing that could happen is that we end up watching a bunch of attractive, talentless kids take drugs and have sex. The best possible outcome would involve the American Skins actually transcending its British counterpart and becoming a show with actual substance. Maybe even our next Degrassi, but, you know, less Canadian.