Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Fictional Teen

An Exercise in Writing: I’ve never fancied myself a writer, but I’ve always loved the idea of it. So 2011 is going to be devoted to my writing experiment. I will write at least a paragraph everyday on my favourite topic – television…after all, this blog is called the small screen and the small person. So without further ado:

The Fictional Teen:

For the most part, teen dramas are cursed with horrible clichés, vapid stereotypes and a complete lack of depth when it comes to characters. Currently, the CW and ABC Family are the only channels specializing in this type of programming; however, the types of shows being offered up are mostly derivative and hackneyed. While the CW presents the most blatant form of escapism (watching New York City socialites behaving badly and teens sleeping with two hundred year old vampires), ABC Family’s teens are completely delusional (you need only to watch fifteen minutes of “The Secret Life of an American Teenager” to figure this out). So when I finally settled down to watch the first couple of episodes of the UK teen drama hit, “Skins,” I was blown away.

“Skins” has been on the air in the UK since 2007 and follows the lives of a group of teens attending a British (what North Americans refer to as) public school. That’s it; there’s no gimmick or hook. What is so compelling about this series is that the characters are extremely fleshed out and complex. They feel like real people, not how adults imagine teenagers to be.

If that doesn’t convince you to check out this show, here’s an added incentive: look for a grown up Nicholas Hoult, whom you may remember as the boy in “About a Boy.”

Hoult plays the handsome sociopath Tony…as you can see…he has grown up… Also, look for a pre-“Slumdog Millionaire,” Dev Patel, playing a confused Muslim trying to reconcile his religious beliefs with being a teen in London.

As you may have heard, MTV is doing an American version of the show that is set to air on January 17th. I’ll be interested to see how the yanks handle the tone and subject matter of the show as the original version is very gritty, containing frequent full-frontal nudity, swearing and casual drug use. I have been describing “Skins” as a very clever and smart program to my friends, two words that I wouldn’t use in the same sentence as most of the usual MTV fare (see: “Jersey Shore,” “The Hard Times of RJ Berger”). However, I’m pretty optimistic, as it seems “Skins” co-creator Bryan Elsley, (whom created the show with his son) has had a strong hand in the development of the US series. Also, it was shot in Toronto, which is enough to warrant a viewing from myself.

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