29 February, 2012

Skins - Nick - Drugs

Skins is still trundling along towards the end of the line for this 'generation' of characters, but surprisingly, and probably due to Mini's greater absence in it, this episode was pretty good! There were the usual problems - heavy reliance on drugs, rather than dialogue or plot, and some unexplained/hyperbolic plot points, but at least this was an episode that I wanted to sit through. Result!

The episode this week, focussing on Nick with a lot of Frankie too, was carried on the performances and charisma of these two young actors. What would probably improve Skins by about a million percent is if we just had Alex, Frankie and Nick as characters, and got rid of everyone, especially Mini and Alo. The chemistry and performance between Dakota Blue Richards and Sean Teale is immense, and Teale, who plays Nick, manages to pull off 'cocky kid who's actually hurting and angsty' pretty well - kudos for that. It is episodes like this that expose just how ridiculous the acting for characters like Grace, Rich and Mini actually is.

Now what really showed itself for me this episode was how the production values on Skins are, for what it is, very high. The club scene, the music, lighting and visuals were excellently evocative of that kind of drunken haze of going out, and it struck me just how much the plot and characters are letting down such an otherwise well-made show. This week, the money issue (and let's not even go into how ridiculous it was that, for a week alone, Nick had £700 stored in random folders, and then thought to take out another £1300 from his Dad's account without any thought as to how he would explain this away to his psychotic father) was poorly thought out and poorly explained - what exactly is the reason that Matty cannot use his own passport? These (quite blatantly flawed) plot points let down an otherwise well-made show.

Now I've said it before, and yes, I will be saying it again - the drugs message in this programme is horrendous. At one moment in this episode, Nick had a scene in which his character motivation was quite clearly 'oh shit I have a problem LET'S TAKE SOME DRUGS'. At another moment, Alex said, of the drink into which Frankie was pouring in every single powder and tablet she had found in a random warehouse into, said 'that looks dangerous', to which she replied 'that's the point'. Now, drug-taking is nothing new to television - but to show excessive, unknown amounts of random substances being taken, together, consistently and with no ill effects, is dangerous. Skins needs to be aware that people at very young ages watch the show - I watched Series One when I was 12. If the drugs had been this prominent and frivolous and FUN when I had watched, I hate to think of the effect it would have had.

The love triangle plot, which ominously ended the episode, threatening the new relationship of 'Frick', is boring. It's probably something like the fourth time that two-boys-liking-one-girl has been done, and there's quite a few different plot than this that Skins could have a go at. What the episode did do well though, excluding Matty as a legitimate concept in the plot, was make the end of this series about the relationships between the characters, something that has been lacking in the singularly-focussed episodes we have had.

In all, the episode was great, minus small criticisms. The series, with this episode, has taken a massive step up and raised my expectations for the rest of the series. The 40-hour party was classic Skins, and exactly the sort of thing that used to happen in Skins-Bristol - well done team.

[Written for Great & Gold]

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