Alors que la célèbre série britannique Skins prendra fin cette année, après 7 saisons, nous souhaitions nous pencher sur les raisons du succès de cette oeuvre qui continue de faire parler d’elle. La série reflète-t-elle la réalité sociale des jeunes Britanniques ?
“Skins” is a British drama series which deals with the lives of some Bristol teenagers aged 16 to 18. The series has been on the air since 2007, and is broadcast on the British TV channel E4. It actually became a critical success and won the hearts of audiences after the very first episodes. Skins is usually associated to teen troubles and controversies. So, what can possibly account for the success of this show in the UK? Is it because it inspires British teenagers or because it depicts their lives? First, Skins’ originality was built on its controversies. Indeed, “Skins” is one of the first TV series which shows taboo topics such as homosexuality, drug addiction, religious conformity, and anorexia. Even the word “skins” is controversial as it refers to the thin sheets of paper rolled to smoke marijuana.
Besides, Skins is different from other TV shows because of its huge impact on teenagers who are influenced by the characters’ everyday life. Since 2009, more and more secret events called “Skins parties” have been organized. They are directly inspired by the criticized drama series. These parties, that mix drugs, transcending electronic music and alcohol, have one rule: “no boundaries” and minor teens often take part.
As a result, Skins is blamed for that: it is accused of giving influenceable kids a bad example. And obviously, compared to the previous generations, British young people have changed. But is the series really that realistic? Numerous magazines and forums put forward the realism of this series and make of it one of the reasons for its huge success. It is true that this series does not represent the majority of the teenagers. However, young people are able to identify with the characters and some of the situations (drinking until the next morning, having a homosexual or an anorexic friend…). The team of writers conduct thorough research before they add adapted slang language to the script; and Skins’ co-producer Jamie Brittain was only 22 when the series began. Skins is a lot deeper than what it shows and isn’t only about entertainment or business. It isn’t only about drugs and other existential problems. This series puts forward all the problems with which the young are confronted. Recent surveys report that 69% of children have been bullied at one point in their lives, one third of teenage girls in a relationship “suffer unwanted sexual acts” and a quarter was victim of physical violence. Britain also has the fourth-highest teen pregnancy rate in the world. In 1997, 15% of teenagers were depressed but nowadays, the percentage is much higher. In 2006 the Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology journal reported that teenage girls “felt constantly under strain”. Teenagers are insecure and arrogant at the same time. The series’ success is also related to its authors’ ability to understand teenagers, who are constantly in an identity quest, as their parents aren’t often there. So the show also reveals the flaws of the British educational system as it highlights the lack of discipline in British schools or families.
Skins is clearly inspired by teenagers, but also inspires teenagers. Skins US, accused of being a shocking caricature of its British version, was cancelled after one season thanks to the action of the Parents Television Council. This failure reminds us that teenagers don’t always agree with the image of a messy life that adults think they have.
Jaswi JEGAT & Yasmine BEN YAHIA