S1E9: There’s a simple, fundamental problem with Skins: it doesn’t know what it wants to be. “Tina” was a perfect example. In the episode, the show slammed different tonal elements into one another, placing scenes next to each other that were so opposite of one another that, frankly, the plot didn’t really make sense thematically. Instead of a coherent story with a certain theme or tone, we’re presented with, well, just a bunch of stuff that kind of happens. For example, in one scene, we’re supposed to laugh at Dave’s persistence with Tina, but then that’s quickly followed with his stalker-like, definitely unfunny (and weird) search for her on the internet. Or another example: Chris hits a gravity bong in the school’s classroom and writes papers on how he’s going to “bone” Tina, but then delivers sweet, sensitive lines about how he feels about Tina. That’s not to say in television, a drama can’t sprinkle in comedy or vice versa, but the problem with Skins is that there’s no constant. We never know if we’re watching a comedy, or a drama, or a farce, or whatever. There’s nothing steady, so everything feels wobbly; and even though certain scenes are enjoyable, on the whole, they don’t fit together.
“I bone students?” -Tina
We open with Tina and Chris having sex in the classiest of classy places: Chris’ treehouse. Quickly, we’re under the impression that maybe Tina isn’t really into this relationship, especially considering she starts crying by the end of their romp. And who could blame her? Chris isn’t necessarily the ideal partner because, well, number one, he’s underage. But even more than that, Chris carries a “bad-boy” image, which Tina only seems to be attracted to because her own life isn’t the most thrilling one. She’s 23, doesn’t have adult friends outside of other teachers at school, and she spends every waking moment around high school students, which inevitably leads to her thinking and acting like them. When you look at these facts, it’s not too hard to see why she would get swept up with Chris without really thinking about the consequences. She finally realizes what she’s doing, but it’s too late. Abbud has already told the whole school. Everyone knows that she’s sleeping with Chris.
“I’m 30-years-old. I don’t want to have sex in a strip-mall parking lot.” -Tina’s Neighbor
Meanwhile, outside of the school-world, Tina meets her neighbor: a very attractive 30-year-old professional. They flirt in the hallway, but it’s very apparent that Tina has no idea how to flirt with men that are age appropriate. She’s like a high school girl, constantly twirling her hair and talking with a high-pitched squeal, and the neighbor isn’t very attracted by it. But somehow, she gets paired up with him again later in the episode — to give him a ride — and persuades him to take her out to dinner for her birthday. Surprisingly, it all goes very well. The two enjoy some fast food burgers in Tina’s car, while flirting a little bit, then they make out. Tina, having the mind of a teenage girl (and one that has sex quite frequently), immediately reaches for condoms and wants to have sex. The guy is taken aback, saying that he doesn’t really want to have sex in a car, in a strip-mall parking lot, during the day. Tina’s hurt a little bit, but it was something she clearly needed to hear. Unfortunately, she didn’t hear it soon enough. After getting shut down, she returns to her apartment to find that Chris is throwing a huge party for her birthday. A nice gesture, sure, but if you’re somebody like Tina — who’s trying to grow up — it’s not really nice coming home to a guy dancing in your underwear on the table.
These are the tonal issues I addressed above. It’s not that this type of plot doesn’t work or wouldn’t work, or the story isn’t presented in a cluttered way, it’s just that each part just feels different. Or perhaps more accurately, inconsistent with everything before it, or everything after it.
“You’re being arrested for statutory rape.” -Officer
So then, Tina gets caught with Chris. After the party calms down, Dave shows up at her apartment and walks in on her and Chris having sex. The next day at school, he shows up with a police officer and Tina is arrested for statutory rape — even though Chris consented, he’s underage and it’s considered a crime. And this moment when the officers came — while Tina was teaching — was honestly quite moving. But once she was arrested, as Skins tends to do, the officer basically abandoned the fact that this was a “serious” crime and the show made her interrogation silly and absurd, which is completely opposite from how it was originally presented. Then, Tina finally breaks it off with Chris and heads home.
“Tina” was an interesting episode, especially considering that they focused on the teacher rather than one of the students, but it’s still very apparent that Skins has no idea what it wants to be. Nine episodes into a series? Yeah, that’s a problem.