'Skins' Season 1, Episode 3 Recap
by Sandie Angulo Chen, posted Feb 1st 2011 10:30AM
After the completely original 'Tea' episode last week, it was a bit of a disappointment to see just how faithful this episode was to the original, even if it does, once again, show the vulnerability beneath the character's overconfident adolescent façade.
In the Bristol version, Chris' story arc is the most heartbreaking, and it all starts with this bleak look at why and how he's such an unrepentant pill-popping party boy: his parents can't be bothered with him.
It's not an uncommon plot device for parents to be MIA on a younger-skewing series -- even the preschool cartoon 'Max and Ruby' and the Nickelodeon hit 'iCarly' depict parents who are inexplicably never around -- but the cruel way Chris's (Jesse Carere) probably mentally ill mother and deadbeat father completely desert him is pretty unfathomable. Even MTV's naive 'Teen Moms' wouldn't do that.
Hypocritically, I have to admit that some aspects of this episode bothered me much more now that it's an "American" show (yeah, it's in sarcastic quote marks, because there's no sense of location; even Lima, Ohio is better referenced on 'Glee,' which obviously isn't shot there). Anything I didn't quite understand or believe could just be dismissed as a "British thing," but now that the series is in the States, it's a lot harder to ignore the less realistic aspects of an otherwise ultra-realistic drama.
For example, Chris' ongoing flirtation with his teacher Tina was upsetting in the original, but the actress didn't come across like a Mary Kay Letourneau. And unless she's an overachieving Jaime Escalante-style instructor (which she clearly isn't, considering she spent part of a class crying over her ex boyfriend the health teacher), why would she go to Chris' place for a last-minute parent-teacher conference, and then stay and dance with him at his underage house party? No, no, no. When she tells Chris "I could lose my job for this," I laughed. She could lose her job for everything she says and does.
But enough with the complaints. At the very least Carere convincingly pulled off his emotional scenes with Daisy (Camille Cresencia-Mills), who is so far the least damaged teen of the lot. Until she encouraged Chris to give living alone a go, she was the ultimate voice of reason. She's the only one who's at all concerned about Chris' situation. Both of them gave their best performances so far, and their chemistry is decent enough to foreshadow a possible romance between them (if he ever gets over Tina).
Did anyone else feel that most of the crew was almost unnecessary Monday night? In the same way that last week was all about Tea and Tony, this episode let Chris and Daisy shine, although Stanley's ongoing infatuation with Michelle and Tony's ongoing fascination with Tea were key secondary developments.
Michelle can tell the difference between Tony's "I'll get to you in a minute" attention, and Stanley's wide-eyed awe. She told Tea last week that her relationship with Tony is far past the honeymoon period (really?) and that it requires work. But she's so desperate for Tony, it's hard to imagine her chucking him, even if he would rather stare at an aquarium than stare at her breasts. I wonder if her dedicated episode will be as similar to her British counterpart as Chris and Tony's. If so, Rachel Thevenard needs to sell the fact she's clever and not just hot (if apparently ill-proportioned).
I haven't mentioned Abbud (Ron Mustafa), but the truth is he's given very little to do in this incarnation except for provide the occasional comic relief. Because Maxxie got turned into Tea, their best friendship isn't as clear. Wouldn't a a guy have looked away like Tony if his female best friend flashed her boobs? He probably wouldn't have invited his brothers to ogle her, at the very least, even if that was a joke.
Ultimately this episode was one of the strongest in the English edition, but here it lacked the same emotional impact except for the well-acted scenes with Daisy at his mom's house, his dad's house, and the cemetery. It would have been more enjoyable had at least a few liberties been taken.
What do you think of the show's prospects after its ratings plunge last week? Is it easier to love if you haven't seen the original? Who's your favorite character so far?
'Skins' airs Mondays at 9PM ET on MTV.