The American version of “Skins,” which premiered last night on MTV, is essentially a scene-for-scene recreation of the British pilot. It’s practically the same episode. So, why is it such a massive pile of greasy boners and failure? That’s the magic of American television, folks. Our carbon copy paper is smeared in perfect skin and brain damage. We can recreate scenes, but we can’t recreate the vibe. We can have characters do the exact same things, but we can’t replicate the magic. We can duplicate but we can’t rejuvenate. Stay away from British television, America. You have no idea what the fuck you’re doing. Your idea of Americanizing a British television show is to take out everything that was good in the British version. You’re not “translating” it, you’re “ruining” it. In the simple language that American execs understand, “You’re turning a ‘good’ television show into a ‘bad’ television show.” It is absolutely amazing to me how ungodly boneheaded you people are.
In the American “Skins,” Tony (played by Nicholas Hoult in the original) is some sort of cross-blend of Beaver Cleaver and Urban Dictionary entries from 1998. Who the fuck says “Gee,” “Golly,” and “get you spliffed up”? It’s like the American translators didn’t understand a particular bit of slang, so they replaced the Brit vernacular with something they picked up on “Nick at Nite” reruns of “My Three Sons.” The British series found an interesting non-traditionally attractive cast that was attractive exactly because they were a little unusual looking. The American series goes for “generically” interesting, which is to say blandly attractive, which is to say, not attractive at all. It’s like they’re bred in a petri dish of milquetoast, jaw bones, and hair grease. Effy’s name is now Renee. Cassie is now Katie spelled Cadie. Sid is Stanley. That’s fairly indicative of how they have genericized the American version. Even the music is generic indie pop, and you’d think that a television show that aired on MTV could find a decent goddamn track or two.
The British series dealt with urban kids saddled with insecurity and neurosis. None of that comes across in the American series — the kids are too arrogant, too pretty, too confident. The insecurity is exchanged for insincerity, and the neurosis by earnestness. They forgot to be awkward in a show about awkward teenagers coming of age. After the first episode of the British “Skins,” I felt like I knew the characters, like I could relate to them. I felt invested. With these American kids, I feel violated, like I just got felt up by a sheet of fabric softener, molested by a tube of chapstick
It’s a good thing that the American revolution was not waged on television. Sure, we’d win all the facial symmetry battles, but while England was going Guy Ritchie on our ass, we’d be putting up Luke Perry to go toe-to-toe with Vinnie Jones. He’d fall into a pockmark before he threw the first punch, and England would be remaking our shows. The only difference is: They’d probably be improving them.