Skins series five wrapped up last night with an androgynous beauty’s near death, her sexual awakening and total, like, psycho freak out. There were also some rock and roll teen nuptials and a party in a big tent. But for loyal viewers there was little to celebrate. We've been horribly let down this season by the abnormally slack writing and stilted characters you wanted to throttle with their own weird trousers.
Since the beginning, Skins has bounced between brilliant and embarrassing. season one’s trailers promised irritating, try-hard garbage. But the Cassie, Sid, Tony and Michelle years were uncompromising, hilarious and bold. Before Skins, teen drama was an awkward negotiation between what grownups wrote and what broadcasting standards would let pass in a teatime slot. Here, young people were given seats at the writers’ table, so we got to see pubescent types as they really are: horny, cross and stoned. And Skins added a fabulous, fairytale element: the geeks got to have sex too.
But when the third series introduced a new cast, we critics got our trash talk on. The fresh faces appealed, as did Effy’s evolution from mute to interesting manipulator, but the script and storylines were limp and lazy. Surely, this would mark the end of the televisual teen revolution. Not a bit of it. Series four arrived and Skins recovered its magic. There was, however, one minor niggle: Freddie’s daft baseball bat murder and its inadequate resolution. I’d presumed the fifth series would do some loose end tying but there wasn’t even a whisper of a clarification.
It was a bad sign and the quality revival didn’t last. This fifth series and its stars were dismal. Worst of all was young Stepford wife, Grace, played by some poor lass who over-annunciates like a stage school freshman. And the excellent Professor Blood (Chris Addison) lost most of his spooky, New Tory malevolence when we learned of his domestic setup. It turns out he’s just a standard issue, insanely controlling parent. Even the series’ guest stars were off. Alistair McGowan disgraced himself as Nick’s South African rugby coach by sounding Scottish, while John Sessions was merely adequate as one of Frankie’s gay dads.
Sexually confused urchin Frankie was the season’s only interesting acquisition, and she was under-exploited. Plus, her integration into the cool gang after only an episode and a half was absurd. As was the coming together of mean girls, jocks and their natural foes--a shy metalhead and a ginger virgin--to form a new clique. It didn’t work. At all. Alas, Skins’ two-seasons-per-generation formula dictates that we’re in for another year of this particular crew. Pass me a pair of polka dot pedal pushers; I’ve got some strangling to do.