skins-vol-21Skins, Volume 2 (2009, BBC Video)
purchase from Amazon: DVD

Skins, the British teenage drama that airs in the states on BBC America, is the best teen series to come to television since My So Called Life went off the air in 1995. Funny, poignant, and at time heartbreaking, Skins explores the social activities and the emotional rollercoaster of being a teenager in the 21st Century with such devastating accuracy that nothing else on television compares to it. BBC Video has just released Skins Volume 2, compiling the entire second season of the show. The second season wraps up the stories of the group of friends attending Roundview Sixth Form College we met in Season 1 and is essential viewing for anyone who is a fan of Skins — and anyone who just likes quality television.

Skins season 2 picks up six months after the cliffhanger season one. Tony, the cocky, brash young man who is the lynch pin to the group of friends in the show, is a shell of his former self. In final moments of that finale, he was struck by a bus and his fate was left unknown. We soon learn that he survived the tragic accident, but spent in a coma (the “Lost Weeks” supplemental videos on disc 3 detail what happened to the other characters while Tony was in the hospital). As the season begins, Tony is slowly regaining his memory and how to use his limbs and other body parts. Tony is portrayed by Nicholas Hoult, who came into prominence as the boy in About A Boy. Hoult shows exceptional range as an actor charting all of Tony’s pain, frustrations, fears and emotional triumphs over the course of the entire second season’s 10 episodes. Equally effective are Mike Bailey as Sid, Tony’s oldest and most enduring friend and April Pearson as Michelle, the girl Tony loves. Both Sid and Michelle were devastated by the accident. In fact, Michelle was he was on the phone with Tony when he was hit by the bus. Moments after uttering that he loved her, the bus barreled into him. While Sid sat bedside and visited Tony everyday, Michelle was nowhere in sight, too overcome with grief to be there. However, now that Tony is recovering at home, Sid doesn’t know how to act around him and Michelle has decided that sleeping around is a good cure for her pain. All of these storylines are resolved by the end of episode 10, but not before feelings are betrayed and friendships nearly severed.

The unique storytelling technique that Skins uses takes one character from the group of friends and focuses on their life for the duration of the episode. While still continuing the overall story arc of the relationships of Tony, Sid and Michelle, as the season progresses we also learn the fates of Chris (Joe Dempsie), the party animal who has buried a lifetime of pain with booze and drugs; Jal (Larissa Wilson), the gifted clarinetist who does everything within her power to shed her good girl image; Maxxie (Mitch Hewer), the talented dancer who must convince his father that he can make a living dancing; and Cassie (Hannah Murray), the sad eyed girl who nearly goes off the deep end when she thinks she’s lost Sid, the true love in her life. We also meet Sketch (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), a lonely, friendless girl who stalks Maxxie and is convinced she can make him love her. Unfortunately for Sketch, Maxxie is openly gay and wants nothing to do with her. So she attaches herself to Anwar (Slumdog Millonaire’s Dev Patel), Maxxie’s best friend. Finally, the writers set up season three by devoting an episode to Effy (Kaya Scodelario), Tony’s out of control younger sister. As Effy and her friends will become the next generation of Skins, this episode sets in motion some of the characters we will meet in the third season.

Buoyed by the success of the first season, the second season of Skins is more daring. The strongest episode is a surreal journey for Tony as he goes off to visit a university and follows around a woman who helps him regain control of his life. The entire episode seems like a dream and for most of the episode you may believe everything is actually happening only in Tony’s head. Equally effective are the Sid episode in which tragedy strikes just and Sid and his father connect, and the Jal episode that deals with her future and the relationship she has developed with Chris.

You’ll read a lot about the sex and drugs that go on in Skins, but these elements are only a small part of the big picture. There are serious emotions being taken on in this series: love, death, loyalty and betrayal. On the surface Skins may appear to be some kind of exploitive series out to shock you, but it is much deeper than you would expect. Ultimately, Skins is a testament to the power of friendship as exemplified by Tony and Sid. Throughout everything, the bond they share is so strong it survives all of the fucked up things that happen between them. “Out of everyone, I loved you best, Sid” Tony tells his best friend, his brother, in the season finale. That entire episode will have you crying from beginning to end and have you smiling through those tears in the final moments, praying that good things can happen to those who suffer. Through the course of the 19 episodes that compile seasons 1 and 2 of Skins, the writers and producers have created one of the most stunning television series in the past 20 years and one of the best shows of this young century.

About the Author

Scott Malchus

Scott Malchus is a writer, filmmaker and die hard Cleveland Indians fan. His memoir, “Basement Songs,” is available in paperback and Kindle. He wrote and directed the film “King's Highway." His family is heavily involved in fund raising to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. Scott Malchus is an employee of Cartoon Network and Turner Broadcasting. The opinions expressed on Popdose are his own and do not reflect those of his employer. Email: Malchus@popdose.com. Follow him @MrMalchus

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