1) It lacks consistency. The characters are often so static - they have episodes where they undergo these huge changes, and then next time we see them they’re right back where they were. The motivations, desires, and actions of these characters have no connection from episode to episode. One moment, Liv is madly in love with Matty and hates Franky. Next, she’s totally fine with the new arrangement. One moment, Mini and Franky have this sexual tension going on - next Series it seems to have never even happened. Rich was “metal” and now he’s…I don’t even know what’s going on there. More examples can be pulled from previous generations, but you get the gist.
2) It’s all surface. This basically ties in with the above. The stories on Skins are full of extremes - eating disorders and mental health issues and terminal illnesses. But they never read as actual things people are going through - just plot contrivances. I know we only have a few episodes to explore the different characters’ lives, but gee - wouldn’t it have been nice to see Chris struggling with his illness rather than it just springing out of nowhere? Wouldn’t it have been nice to really examine Effy’s battle with depression, rather than just turning it into a device to move the story along? Wouldn’t it have been great if Cassie’s ED had been more than just one of her many adorable quirks, along with saying “Oh wow” every five minutes? It’s like - these things are only touched on, only explored through trite visuals with ethereal sounding indie music playing over it, but I never get a sense that there’s anything at stake, I never feel like I’m watching a real person have a real experience.
3) Its characters aren’t real. It’s a common trope in teen-based dramas and comedies to have “types” easy to read characters who represent That Girl or That Guy from high school you know. What was exciting about Skins, at least at the beginning, was that although it definitely gave you “types” they weren’t your run-of-the-mill Jock, or Nerd, or Bad Boy. They were types, yes, but they were types we’d never really seen before, or types turned on their heads.
And that’s why it’s really disappointing when we get to meet kids who are supposed to be the “alternative” to what we’re used to and, really, they are exactly the same - over and over again. They wear their cool combat boots and graphic tees and speak like your 4th period English teacher who is 24 years old, fresh out of teaching school, and desperate for the class to like him.
It’s definitely a main feature in the series to have these sort of surreal, hyper fragmented realities with crazy drug dealers and maniac head principals and completely incompetent parents but it feels like none of these people act like real people. Our leads do and say things that, yes, a lot of teens do but damn - trashing a million dollar mansion every other week? Another clandestine rave in an abandoned air hanger or some shit? Really bruh? Is that what’s hot in the streets? I mean, I know the “Skins Party” has become a huge part of what the series is but their parties look authentic the way a Kardashian wedding looks authentic - all the right elements are there but it still feels hollow.
I don’t begrudge the stylized universe the series has created - but I do take issue with their common claim that ~THIS IS WAT REAL TEENS R LYKE~. No, this is what real teens wish their lives were like - and in that way I guess the series serves as a sort of escape. I would love, however, if it could just scratch a little bit more at that shiny veneer it presents to us - if it did, it could maybe be something genuinely as ~revolutionary~ as it thinks it is.