Saturday, May 23, 2009

Skins – Season 2 Review

UK Airdate: February 11th – April 14th 2008

Nude: As per usual, second seasons are a bitch and a half to get right. There’s always someone who is going to gripe about things not being as good as the first season. Skins like many shows nowadays did have some detractors when it came to its second year but to be fair, while the second season wasn’t perfect, it certainly wasn’t unbearable either.

First of all, the opening episode was the strongest season premiere this series has done and given that Tony and Maxxie are two of the show’s most talked about characters, having them share an episode made sense. On one hand you had Tony trying to adjust to life following his bus accident. Not the easiest of things to do and equally frustrating when your parents can’t help, your friends aren’t experienced to deal with the consequences of your problems and also when you can’t even write your own name. All of these things are enough to drive anyone nuts so Tony generates a lot of sympathy for that alone.

It also doesn’t help when you’ve got Abigail going around pretending that you’re her girlfriend. I guess for Abigail, it must have been her little way of getting back at Tony but it’s a plot that doesn’t actually generate much drama. Abigail sticks around for the first three episodes and then she’s gone.

The best person for Tony in the premiere was Maxxie. He was sympathetic, helpful and supportive without the writers manipulatively trying to tug at the heart strings. Mitch Hewer isn’t the strongest of actors on the show and I’m probably in a minority of fans who don’t fancy Maxxie (all of the male cast don’t really do it for me, a bit too young) but he comes leaps and bounds in this season, though the first two episodes are the ones that really put Maxxie in the fray.

The first episode had him and his dad (played by Bill Bailey) at loggerheads over careers (dancing vs. manual labour) but without anything turning overtly nasty. It’s also typical that one of the homophobic bullies, Dale would also be gay and actively pursue Maxxie in the woods during a party.

The second episode then introduced us to Sketch, an unhinged girl attracted to Maxxie and contriving various ways to get his attentions. Poisoning Michelle so she could score a lead role in the same play as Maxxie (Obama the musical anyone?) is typical but her masturbating on Maxxie’s bed is definitely not something you’d see on Gossip Girl or 90210. Needless to say that Maxxie was less than flattered with her attentions and her grooming Anwar in changing his appearance to look like Maxxie might be played for laughs but it’s also seriously creepy.

Maxxie’s lucky enough to score himself a nice boyfriend who he got to keep after graduation but Sketch’s plans to trap Anwar with her blew up in her. I’m surprised she didn’t try pretending to be pregnant given how often she and Anwar were at it in a short space of time.

When it comes to other relationships, the second season is also the very season that obliterates both Michelle and Tony and Sid and Cassie in almost typical teen show style. I never cared for Michelle and Tony, so their relationship falling apart was fine by me but I loved Sid and Cassie, so them devolving as a couple is probably the thing I disliked most about this season.

Sending Cassie away to Scotland for the first four episodes was an obvious test – could her and Sid survive that long apart? The answer turned out to be no and through Sid falsely believing that Cassie was having it off with gay couple Rory and Lachlan and Sid sleeping with Michelle, their relationship went down the tubes. Seeing Michelle and Sid embark on (a thankfully) short-lived as a result of losing their respective others certainly was depressing but not as weird as Tony chasing after imaginary girl Beth (who looked way too similar to Effy at some angles) or Cassie’s random sleeping around with everyone in sight, including a girl. Also even when Tony/Michelle and Sid/Cassie reunited, the damage had been done. The former broke up after graduation and the latter ended when one of them bolted to New York.

The best relationship of the season was without doubt Jal and Chris. There had been some moments with them in the first season and the writers expanded on it in the second but sadly they didn’t get much joy either with Jal’s pregnancy/abortion debacle and Chris dying in the penultimate episode.

I have to admit when I first watched the finale, knowing that it was the last episode for these characters that I was a little disappointed with it. Coffin stealing aside and stories about Chris were lovely but I guess I wanted more. Still, they did set up the next generation with Effy’s expanded role in this season and we did get to meet Pandora, so all that ends well I suppose.

DVD EXTRAS: I don’t actually own the DVDs, seeing as they’re stripped of the original music used per episode but I do know what the extras entail.

- Behind the scenes
- Interviews with cast & crew
- Skins Secret Party Special episode
- 6 Unseen Skins Episodes (Abigail Video Diary, Auditions, Michelle’s Dating Video, Anwar and Sketch’s Date, Sketch's Video Diary, Tony's Nightmare, Anwar's Second Dating Blog: Sketch, Cassandra, When Maxxie Met James, Chris's Final Message)
- Broadcast trailer
- Writer Daniel Kaluuya’s story of working on Skins
- Skins in New York City


2x01: Tony And Maxxie = 9/10, 2x02: Sketch = 6/10, 2x03: Sid = 9/10,
2x04: Michelle = 8/10, 2x05: Chris = 8/10, 2x06: Tony = 7/10,
2x07: Effy = 9/10, 2x08: Jal =10/10, 2x09: Cassie = 9/10, 2x10: Finale = 8/10.

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