Was it just me, or was Skins about 3 hours long tonight? I'm kidding, of course, but there was something especially listless about this episode, and on a show that's already lacking in vitality, that's an issue. To some extent, the low-energy vibe was intentional. After all, this was the "Cadie" episode, in which we dive into the world of the pill-popping, saucer-eyed waif who's perpetually on the brink of catatonia. Still, I wonder how much this show would be improved if it were only half as long.
In the U.K. version of Skins, Cadie is "Cassie," played by Hannah Murray. Her character is fond of pills, to be sure, but her most salient feature, so to speak, is her anorexia. Cassie's in and out of a clinic where she sews weights into her shirt and where fellow patients guzzle gallons of water immediately before weigh-ins. This is all played for laughs, in a politically incorrect way that, it seems, only the British can get away with. Watching the original, I delighted in its irreverence towards the subject of eating disorders. Could an American show get away with this sort of political incorrectness? It seemed riskier than the sex or the drugs. Naturally, MTV's Skins has all but eliminated the anorexia references-in the pilot, we saw Cadie building food sculptures, which is way less funny if you don't know why she's doing it-and opted instead to give Cadie a the very American problem of over-medication. She's afraid of living without pills. Oh yeah, pigeons freak her out, too. All eating disorder-related hilarity aside, it is unfortunate that MTV has opted to portray Cadie as "unhappy" in such a nebulous way. I understand they're going for overall malaise rather than a specific malady, but it feels trite-angsty girl, medicine cabinet full of meds, mean parents. You know the drill.
As Cassie, Murray was dizzy, radiant, and heartbreaking all at once. Britne Oldford, who plays Cadie, has opted for a more literal approach to the character, playing her in a sort of monotonous stupor. I'll refrain from belaboring this point too much, because comparing this to the U.K. version is just cruel at this point. But, if you'll indulge me, there's an analogy to be made. Cadie is to Cassie as U.S. Skins is to U.K. Skins. In other words, replace the zany comedy with some lumbering, listless drama, and you've pretty much got it. It's easy to see why the folks at MTV cast Oldford, with her sinewy limbs and hypnotically sad eyes, but it's too bad she doesn't have more comedic abilities. Sure, there were moments tonight when her performance worked, but, all too often, it's impossible to tell whether her affectless delivery is a conscious creative decision-or merely the result of her limitations as an actor.
One thing that this episode did effectively convey is Cadie's social isolation. She's disconnected from her peers, lost in a haze induced by some combination of anxiety, self-loathing, and pills. There were lots of unexplained loose ends-Who are all these doctors, exactly? What's this about Cadie's dad dying? Did she really shoot him?-but this messiness actually felt somewhat intentional, as if to illustrate Cadie's disconnect from the world around her.
To be fair, I'd want to disconnect, too. Cadie's mother is an aging beauty queen, and her father is a hunting and taxidermy enthusiast, and they both take more interest in each other than in their daughter. Here's yet another example of how the arch tone of the original doesn't quite work in translation: Cadie's mother just seems like a ridiculous and unfunny caricature, and her father is reduced to a single quirk.
Her social life is not much better. She's also got a crush on Stan, who's too busy brushing his hair into his face and ogling Michelle to realize that Cadie's the real knockout. Yes, Cadie's crush on this little towhead is inexplicable, but so are virtually all high school crushes. Oddly, I find Cadie's misguided feelings for Stan to be one of the more convincing aspects of this series: She's not actually having sex with Stan, but just pretending that she is makes Cadie feel close to him. Cadie shows up at Michelle's party, all dolled-up an adorable pink dress, but Stan is too busy sniffing Michelle's teddy bears to notice the gazelle-like Lisa Bonet-lookalike throwing herself at him.You know how it is, right, guys? Tea tells Cadie that Stan only invited her because of her pills, and Cadie retaliates by hooking-up with Michelle's predatory step-dad-only minutes after rebuffing his hot-tub advances. It was gross, to be sure, but there was something about Cadie's desperate advances that, sadly, felt way more accurate than most other things on this show.
So far I have really enjoyed Skins, but this one particular episode felt like it was lacking. Im just not feeling this Cadie character. Shes not very dynamic. I like how they played with the idea that adults are quick to shove a pill down a kids throat to make things easier on them, but it was tacky and annoying. They could have done much better with this episode expecially since so many kids out there can relate to whats going on for this particular episode. Other than that the rest of the episode was fine. The Drama was OK, and the comedy was decent. Next time though lets try a little bit harder. This show has potential and with all haters out there I would like to see it put them in their place!
That's pretty much all I could think about when for 1 minute, Eura was on screen, not talking. I was just thinking: UH OH... they hopefully won't be using this character for 4 seasons. Definitely does not look good, but I'll be pleasantly surprised if they can turn this one around.
In general, this episode was on the better side. It was decent, but the lines still appear forced... it just doesn't feel natural enough. And sometimes there isn't enough dialogue, I feel. It's an awkward balance. There were some raunchy moments in this episode, and some other interesting teen-aged bits (topics of mental illness, body image, pills, shady seduction, bathing suits that were too-small). Tony and Tea are an interesting arc. The chemistry is there, I'm hoping it happens, but it'll take a while. Hoping that by the end of season, on average, it will still be above par.
The US version might have merited some originality here, but it still wasn't enjoyable as an episode. Cadie is simply not a likable character, and she has absolutely no chemistry with Stanley. I kind of was looking forward to this episode considering how great the UK version was, but this was different in a bad way.
This may have not been a carbon copy of an episode of the UK version, but it just wasn't very entertaining. The only thing that's keeping me tuned in is the Tea/Tony thing, but that's really it.
Also Stanley is like the worst character on this show, just write him off already, the UK version was clearly way better. I don't know, this show has too do a little more than just be racy.
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