Suicide, murder, and drug addiction have proved essential to the storylines of Skins' fourth season. The eight-part series has been far darker than before, featuring serious issues rarely covered on TV -- let alone on shows aimed at teens. Though it's continued to attract decent audience figures the show's dark changes have divided fans. Now the series has ended we put to you the cases for and against Skins' fourth season. Which side are you on?
OK, so this season of Skins has been rather grim and unrealistic, but hasn't that always been the case? Think back to the first two seasons when drug abuse was rife, Maxxie was stalked and Tony was hit by a bus. The storylines then were no more ridiculous than they are now, and they certainly didn't stop fans tuning in by their bucket loads. The show's just a bit of fun, albeit exaggerated; it doesn't try to be anything else.
It's actually quite refreshing to see the gang have to deal with the consequences of their actions, well apart from Cook that is -- he's still evading jail. For the last two seasons they've taken drugs, been in fights and slept around without a care in the world -- critics even claim Skins is glamorising these pastimes. Isn't it right then that after four seasons of recklessness we get to see the results of their behaviour? If it didn't happen this season it would be covered in another.
Granted, the murder of Freddie was unexpected and gory, but Skins has always set out to shock its audience. Doctor John bludgeoning Freddie to death certainly did that. It also led to an intriguing finale, in which his friends and family were left wondering where he'd gone right until the end (when Cook discovered his demise). Sure, there were storylines still unresolved when the final credits rolled, but again this was the case at the end of the last generation: remember the uncertain fate of lovestruck teens Cassie and Sid?
If you have any gripe with this series let it be with lack of episodes, which meant that not every character had their own instalment as was always the case in the past. This season Naomi and Panda missed out, and they were arguably two of the more interesting characters from this generation. The shame!
Nobody minds change when it's for the better. It's healthy for TV shows to evolve: it gives greater depth to characters and keeps audiences on their toes. The fact that Skins changes its entire cast every two years and continues to be renewed suggests that huge script changes don't put off audiences or broadcasters, or at least not E4.
The thing is: Skins has lost its way. It's changed so much in the past few seasons it's forgotten what it originally stood for -- illicit fun for the young -- and season four has taken the fall for all of this. Skins' quest to shock viewers has taken new meaning this series: once a drug-and-sex-fuelled teen show, it's now a full on drama about obsession, addiction and ill health.
It's not just the darker tone that spoils this season; it's the lack of character investment. Fans wouldn't be so annoyed if the transition went smoothly, but Freddie's murder seemed to come out of nowhere and Thomas’ cheating was so out of character. The storylines needed to mesh better, with an overrunning arc that lasted more than just three episodes. Alas, this wasn't to be.
Fans hoping the final episode would redeem the series' downfalls were sadly mistaken. The characters that they formed a bond with in season three were given wishy-washy send-offs that seemed to be picked out the sky. Sorry, but "I might have done some exams without telling anyone" is not a good enough explanation as to why our loveable, yet dim, Panda Pops managed to get a history scholarship at Harvard! Frustratingly, we'll never get to see how the group come to terms with Freddie's death, or what impact this will have on his mentally-ill girlfriend. At least we know Cook got his revenge on the psycho doctor. Or did he? The plot holes make us as crazy as Effy.