Teenagers, sex and drugs are always a combustible, controversial mix, as Larry Clark discovered with his feature "Kids" in the mid-1990s. What "Skins" lacks, though, is a compelling point of view, other than the (increasingly) marginal shock value of seeing British youths smoke pot and sleep around. The parents here possess no more substance than their predecessors in Charlie Brown cartoons, but initially, anyway, the kids don't fare that much better, with the most interesting characters (and there are a few) occupying the fringes. As is, they're rebellious, yes, but without much of a cause.
The biggest dramatic drawback hinges on series creators Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain's choice of protagonist: the easygoing ladies man Tony ("About a Boy's" Nicholas Hoult), who saunters out of his house and, like a maestro, orchestrates his entire working-class clique's social calendar via cellphone on his way to school.
Tony has a beautiful girlfriend, Michelle (April Pearson), whom he insists on calling "Nips" and seemingly takes for granted. Yet his primary after-school project is to get his hapless friend Sid (Mike Bailey) laid before the lad turns 17, which in Tony's eyes would be the equivalent of wearing a scarlet "V."
Tony appropriately quotes from "Dawson's Creek" in the opener, and "Skins" surely owes a debt to that series, albeit with a more audacious sense of realism and greater attention to class distinctions. In this case, that becomes apparent when Tony and the gang attend a party thrown by haughty rich girls -- a good if rather obvious backdrop for the show's blend of comedy and drama.
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