How Skins lost the plot

“Just don’t change,” whimpers one vapid Skins character to another in tonight’s opening episode of season six.

“Just don’t change,” whimpers one vapid Skins character to another in tonight’s opening episode of season six.

The only thing that truly changes about the E4 show is its main cast; an entire two-season overhaul means we should be nearing the end of Skins 3.0 but it barely matters as the writers (all 148 of them) are locked into a loop of repeating structures, echoing relationship dilemmas and eerily similar character arcs with ever-decreasing rewards.

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There are no ghosts, werewolves or vampires on show (though the constant screwed-up frown worn by Matty suggests he might be less than comfortable in daylight) but the spectre of Skins’ previous incarnations haunts every scene leaving us with a boring, conservative simulation of past glories. Where before there may have been some vague edge to proceedings, the show is now a safe and sound hologram of itself; we may once have laughed with the characters, but now we scoff at the ludicrous caricatures (Chris Addison’s Professor Blood?) and enormous leaps of faith: this season features the most absurd screen drug barons since Danny The Dealer knocked up his last Camberwell Carrot.

Season five’s climax ended not with a shoot-out (or up) or a mansion rave with bodies strewn across a lush lawn. It finished with a desperate race for everyone to get to the altar on time to celebrate the nuptials between the two sweetest characters in the show. OK, so the whole thing ended with a damp squib as angry rocker Rich and blossoming wallflower Grace decided to put all that soppy stuff on hold and just have another ‘wild’ party.

As we catch up with the gang they are on holiday (from what exactly?) in Morocco. The opening scenes can’t make up their mind whether to be The Inbetweeners movie (proving he has a sensible metalhead on his dandruff-free shoulders, Rich moans about the shabbiness of their accommodation) or a classic Carry On (a barely dressed Mini comes to the aid of a scantily clad Liv who is being mauled by insects as two of the lads do their best Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey leers).

“This is real life. This is it,” profoundly announces someone else. Really? As if we needed any further evidence that this show bears little resemblance to teenage reality, here’s a stat: a mere 12 seconds of the episode’s 48-minute screen time are dedicated to the gratuitous use of mobile technology while not once does anyone insert “like” into a sentence. Now, that’s kind of random.

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