Are the kids on MTV’s “Skins” as talented as those from the original UK version? Lets examine them one by one. (Maybe we’ll feel less mean that way)
In 2007, the British channel E4 launched "Skins," a show about a group of teenagers dealing with sex, drugs and mental illness that would stir controversy, win awards, and make stars of its actors.
In 2011, MTV tried to convince America it could do the same thing.
MTV's "Skins" takes the same basic story lines as it predecessor with some differences, especially in its characters.
It too uses actors and writers that have little or no experience with the intention of keeping the show fresh, young and as realistic as possible.
But therein lies the problem. How do you keep something fresh, when you're copying it?
The American pilot is a shot-for-shot remake of the original, as is the episode "Chris." Much like last night's leftovers, you can stick them in the microwave, but it still won't taste the same.
But enough about the producers and writers. What about the actors? Who are these kids?
For a start, they've got a lot to live up to. Many cast members of the UK version were able to use "Skins" to springboard major acting careers, like Dev Patel, star of "Slumdog Millionaire," and Nicholas Hoult, who will play Beast in "X-Men: First Class" this summer.
Mostly, they simply don't seem as talented as the British cast. Most of them come off very bland, and bring little vision or insight into their characters.
Let's judge them one by one. Maybe we'll feel less mean that way.
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Previous acting experience: None. James had never even had an audition before "Skins." But he comes from a family immersed in the film industry. His mother is an actress, his father is a producer, and his grandmother was the president of a film production company.
Other interests: James loves boxing. Before being cast on "Skins," he was training for the New York Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament.
Plans after the show: He delayed going to college to be a part of "Skins," but James does want to go after the show is done. He also wants to continue boxing.
Opinions: James has a certain charisma about him, but you can tell that acting isn't his passion. He constantly wears a goofy smirk on his face, that makes it seem like he's not very invested in his character, but more along for the ride. He manages to come off like a normal teenager, since most teens are just going through high school on the way to somewhere else, but for the character of Tony he really needs to bring a little something more.
Hometown: Waterloo, Ontario
Previous acting experience: Before "Skins," Rachel was in several Shakespearean plays around her hometown and was in Dreyton Entertainment's production of High School Musical as a member of the pep squad.
Other interests: Running and baking.
Plans after the show: Continue acting, and one day run a marathon.
Opinions: Rachel has a gorgeous face, and whoever styles the show does a great job giving her hip and edgy outfits. But beneath that, so far she hasn't shown much ability to stand there and look the part.
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Previous acting experience: In high school Britne majored in theater.
Other interests: Britne loves cooking, and also has three pet rats and a ukulele.
Plans after the show: Before she was cast on Skins Britne was considering going to theater school or culinary school after graduation. But now she wants to keep acting, either in television or her in passion, theater.
Opinions: She's a bit of an optical illusion. She has such huge eyes that she constantly looks frightened a little disturbed. But I think that's more biology than talent. Her character is difficult, mental illness is a complicated subject and handling it realistically is a huge challenge. For me, it just didn't come off as genuine.
Hometown: Glen Rock, New Jersey
Previous acting experience: When he was 13 he was in a short film My First Kiss, and since has done other short films, as well as commercials and voice overs. He has also done theater work with The Reduced Shakespeare Company, Glen Rock High School and Bergen Community College.
Other interests: Daniel sings, plays guitar and writes songs for his Band, MF Killer Starfish. He also enjoys skateboarding and ultimate Frisbee.
Opinions: Kind of the male equivalent of Rachel. He's very pretty, but has a difficult time expressing emotions. Although, he does do a good job acting of confused and intimidated. Might be a good actor, or Daniel might just be feeling confused and intimidated. Part of that might be that the writers often refuse to change his character's lines from the original British version. Stanley is a very different type than the original Sid, who was a lot more nerdy and awkward. When Chris's mother walks out and leaves him one thousand pounds (dollars, in the American version), both Sid and Stanley suggest he invest it. That makes sense for Sid, but not Stanley.
Hometown: Oshawa, Ontario, but he lived in India until he was 6.
Previous acting experience: Ron has done some commercial work, and was in the independent film Die Mannequin.
Other interests: Ron is a student at the University of Toronto, where he is majoring in International Law and Political Science. He is also likes playing basketball and the guitar.
Plans after the show: Ron wants to continue working in film and television, but he also wants to go to law school.
Opinions: Stale. He's probably the biggest disappointment on the show, especially since Dev Patel played the same role with far more sparkle. But in Ron's hands, the character is totally one note, with no depth or interest.
Hometown: North Jersey, New Jersey
Previous acting experience: Sofia played Bailey Wells on All My Children.
Other interests: Dancing. She started taking dance lessons at Broadway Bound when she was 5.
She also has a tattoo of a line from an e.e. cummings poem, “i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)”.
Opinions: She's okay, but not effortless. She speaks each line with such diligence it feels like she's hammering her words into place instead of letting them flow naturally. There's very little complexity or nuance about her performance.
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Previous acting experience: Camille attends the Etobicoke School of the Arts where she is majoring in drama. She appeared on the tv show Warehouse 13 and the Internet series Motherload.
Other interests: Ballet, jazz and reading. Camille is also half Filipino.
Opinions: She's pretty bland. I don't have much more to say about her, since she hasn't done a whole lot yet, besides watch other people have emotions. Maybe she'll get to have her own emotions some episode.
Hometown: Woodbridge, Ontario
Previous acting work: None
Other interests: There's actually not a lot of information available about what Jesse likes to do besides acting and watching movies.
Opinions: I can't figure out whether he's a terrible actor or a great one. His performance is very raw and vulnerable, and he's definitely putting some interesting aspects into his character. With more training and experience he might have a successful career. He's not quite there yet, but he could be someday. Of all the American actors I think Jesse has the most potential.
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Previous acting work: Eleanor studied acting at Avenue Road School of the Arts and Dean Armstrong Acting Studio.
Other interests: Swimming, singing and jazz dancing.
Plans after the show: Next year Eleanor will continue her acting training at Etobicoke School of the Arts.
Opinions: She'll have to do something for me to judge it. I can hardly give an opinion on how she removes makeup or nods her head. Well, I could, but it would feel a little hollow.
They're just kids, so I feel a little bad judging them so harshly. But they do represent millions of dollars of casting and development. And the British "Skins" kids were no older, and came out the door with much stronger performances.
All in all, I have to wonder, why didn't MTV just air the British version?
There's a lot of nudity and profanity they'd have to cut, but it would be doable. And it would be a lot cheaper to import than making their own version.
Some American viewers would be turned off by the accents, but BBC America has been having great success getting Americans to watch shows like "Dr. Who" and "Primeval."
MTV, if the show's not broken, don't bother fixing it.
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