TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “Skins”

If I hadn’t been out here in L.A. for the last week and a half, you would’ve seen my review of the first volume of “Skins” on DVD, but when it finally does make it onto Bullz-Eye, you can count on it being a rave. I’ve groused on many occasions about the portrayal of American teenagers on television, how it always feel so terribly unreal and thereby presents a version of reality that they feel obliged to live up to. In the case of “Skins,” however, I’m torn by what I’m seeing: on one hand, there’s no denying that it feels really, really real, but, indeed, it’s so real that, unlike “Gossip Girl,” it makes me go, “Oh, my God, maybe this really is what my daughter’s going to be doing when she gets to be a teenager.”

(For what it’s worth, I’ve checked with my sources in the UK – hi, Claire! – and I’m assured that the Brit teen experience is far wilder than the US teen experience, so I’m feeling at least a little bit better about it.)

Those who’ve watched the first two series of “Skins” have been a little bit twitchy about the news that the father-and-son creators of the show, Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain, are basically doing away with the entire cast of kids – except for Effy and Pandora – and starting fresh with a whole new bunch of young’uns.

“We feel like…each cast has a kind of two-year life span, mainly because we are mostly interested in the ages of 16 to 18,” said Brittain. “That’s the format of the show. We felt that, looking at shows that have been before, like ‘Dawson’s Creek’ and ‘The O.C.,’ they tend to go downhill a little bit when the characters all go off to college or a university because, you know, then you have to contrive convenient endless ways to get them to meet up again. They’re always coming home for a party or something like that. Also, we sort of felt like, in the first series, we took the characters quite a long way and sort of took them to their conclusions, really. So any more of those original cast would be, you know, not needed.”

Of course, the entire cast wasn’t in America for the panel, but we did get to meet two of the new folks: Luke Pasqualino, who plays Freddie Mclair, and Lily Loveless, who plays the familiarly-named Naomi Campbell.

Lily Loveless: “Really, I’m 18 years old. I’m from London. I got the part for ‘Skins’ while doing some final exams. Before this, I’ve never done much acting at all. I just really knew I wanted to be an actor and went along to the auditions and got the part through spending hours and hours in their company with the casting director. It’s very bizarre being in a show that you’ve watched for two years and thought, ‘Wow, that show is really cool,’ and then being on set and meeting all of the old cast is also very bizarre. But it’s very good.”

Luke Pasqualino: “I’m about to become 18, and basically, I’ve kind of fell into acting when I was really young, about nine years old. And, really, my credits are in theater. That’s where I’ve been for the best part of my career, really. So most of it was amateur and just kind of…it’s only been about the past, kind of, two years I’ve actually been doing professional, paid theater work, and, you know, I think, as a British actor, I think that’s required. A lot of British actors start in theater and stuff like that. And to fall into something like this I think is absolutely fantastic, and hopefully, you can build up a profile for yourself and a credit for yourself in TV and film. But a lot of it is in theater for me. I was a huge fan (of ‘Skins.’) I actually went for the audition for the first series because it was around about the same time I got my agent, the first series was being auditioned for. So I went along to the audition for it. And, of course, I wasn’t successful. But just being at the audition made me think, ‘I want to see what this show is about. I want to see what the finished product is like.’ And I watched it, and I’ve just become a huge fan. It’s just amazing. The show is actually brilliant.”

Oh, yeah. Particularly the hand tattoos in the season premiere. Wait ’til you see ’em.

The new series of “Skins” premieres on BBC America this spring, exact date TBD.

  

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