S1E3: Well, the most controversial show ever to exist ever (apparently) returned last night for its third episode, "Chris," and, hey, it wasn't too bad! Sure, the acting is still pretty horrendous overall (and even at its best moments, it's barely above mediocre), but on the whole, I think the show is starting to figure out what it is, and what it's trying to accomplish.
"She left you a G."
"Chris" follows, well, Chris -- the independent (not necessarily by choice, but we'll get into that later), drug-addicted member of the group. To start the episode, he wakes to find that he accidentally ate some Viagra-style pills and is reaping the benefits, if you want to call a huge boner that. In a 40-Year-Old Virgin style gag, he attempts to pee, only he ends up missing the toilet completely and pees all over himself. He presses on and heads downstairs, finding an envelope on the counter with a note written on it from his mother. She's "left for a few days" and writes to "be good." Inside? $1000. So, after feeling slightly abandoned, he talks to his friends and decides to do the logical thing that any teenager would do -- throw a huge fucking party.
"You know what I love about your body?"
"One boob is bigger than the other."
-Tony and Michelle
As expected, everyone parties pretty hard. Chris ends up wasted (and only knowing "like 10 percent of the people there!"). He invited his teacher Tina (who he's hot for) over earlier in the day, lying to her that she needs to talk about school stuff with his mom. That's obviously not the case, and they end up dancing (to The Walkmen, I must add. Yay Walkmen!), but his raging boner (that he's now had for about 16 hours) scares her off. Meanwhile, at the end of the night Tony and Michelle head to the bedroom to do what they do -- have sex. But before things get underway, Stanley accidentally walks into the room, sees some boobs, then leaves to go have sex of his own.
Anyway, the most important of this part of the plot is Chris' dance with his teacher and her inevitable exit, but I wanted to use this Tony/Michelle scene to illustrate, at times, how bad Skins' acting is. Everybody is just always trying to be so damn cool. In the comedic moments of the show -- when say, Tony is being his charming, witty self -- there's just something that feels off about his actions. Nothing feels natural. As someone who hasn't seen the original UK version, I've read that the "Chris" plot was, in the same way as the pilot, a direct shot-for-shot remake. And in that same vein, I've been told that in the UK version, this episode is one of the series' best. So maybe what's making these moments not work in the US version is the fact that, really, they're trying to tell British culture through American eyes. But it's just not translating as well as they hoped.
"You aight? That's some fall. I thought you was gonna be quadriplegic and shit, you know, vegetized, drinking from a straw and shit, you know what I'm sayin'?"
-Homeless dude squatting at Chris' house
Chris realizes that his mom might not being coming back and that he probably shouldn't have spent all that cash on throwing a party, so he tries to bring back the big, expensive stereo he bought. Unfortunately, someone had stuffed a pancake or waffle (or something) in the CD drive, and no one wants it. While carrying it around in a wheelbarrow, he somehow ends up trading the wheelbarrow for some drugs, gets all fucked up, and wakes up back in his bed. As he stumbles to his bathroom to take a shower, we see that his house is pretty much destroyed and unlivable -- but there's more. He turns on the shower, only to discover a homeless dude sleeping in the bath tub. After a fight (and a fall down the stairs), the homeless dude locks Chris out (while he's naked). He has nowhere to turn, so he runs down the street (still naked) and eventually gets to school, finding Ms. Tina for comfort (and a towel to cover himself). His friends come with some clothes, and Daisy takes him to see his dad, which only ends up as an awkward conversation with his (assumed) step-mother, and not even seeing his father -- only hearing his disapproving voice from the kitchen. Chris can't handle it too long, so he takes off running. Daisy chases him, and they end up at the cemetery, where we learn that Chris' hard-partying life has a source: his late-brother, Peter.
So, let's talk about what Skins does well. Like I've stated, the acting isn't very good on the whole, but for some reason, when the show gets serious, the actors somehow pull it off. For example, the scene between Daisy and Chris in the cemetery was very touching. Sure, it was still obvious at times that this is the first time these kids have acted, but still, it reminded me of last week's scene between Tea and her grandmother. Perhaps the reason Skins can handle these moments is because they're not trying to be so funny or so witty, and they're just letting their emotions happen.
After hanging out with his friends, and not enjoying himself at all, Chris escapes to go find Ms. Tina. He somehow gets in her trunk and she discovers him. Since he has no where else to go, she reluctantly takes him in, despite the potential chance of "losing her job." She sets him up in her guest room, and the two, once again, share a moment. Ms. Tina got him a goldfish, because his friends told her that "he likes goldfish," and there's some significant eye-gazing going on between the two characters. Age difference/smage difference -- the two have chemistry.
Sam's Expert Panel of One:
I only have one little thing to say about this show since Eric summed up my thoughts fairly well. The show is nowhere near the UK version, but only at this moment. What Eric said about the dramatic moments are true. When they drop all the pretenses of being cool, the show finds its voice and talent. And when it starts exploring its own self and not the UK version, it gets even better. Take for instance Abbud and Tea. That was never a situation in the UK version but here it is entirely possible. If this show can ever break free from its UK counterpart, it will have earned the rights to be called Skins.