Company Pictures, the Brit production company which makes Skins for MTV, is “extremely surprised” by the show’s U.S. furor. Especially as the first three seasons of the raunchier Brit version aired on BBC America virtually without controversy — albeit with nudity pixillated and swearing dipped. The Brit version has just started its 5th season. The UK original has also been freely available on the Internet. Execs has been scratching their heads because the first U.S. episode of Skins was almost a shot-for-shot remake of the UK original – but with the bad language and drugs references toned down from the British version which was far stronger in its depiction of drugs, sex, abortion, and self-harm. The show has never been that controversial here. A psychiatric charity complained about the depiction of a counsellor beating one teenager to death with a baseball bat. But Channel 4 only received 11 complaints. Not the show itself but the promos for the show have caused a little consternation. The UK broadcaster showed a pub brawl in a promo that sparked criticism. And the advertising watchdog Advertising Standards Authority banned a poster promoting the show, showing teenagers taking part in an orgy. The ASA said the image “could cause serious or widespread offence” and shouldn’t be seen by children.
Skins co-creator Bryan Elsley today addressed the growing controversy surrounding the racy British series’ MTV version, which he is shepherding, in a lengthy statement:
Skins is a very simple and, in fact, rather old-fashioned television series. It’s about the lives and loves of teenagers, how they get through high school, how they deal with their friends, and also how they circumnavigate some of the complications of sex, relationships, educations, parents, drugs and alcohol. The show is written from the perspective of teenagers, reflects their world view, and this has caused a degree of controversy both in the U.K. and the USA.