Oh shit, oh shit. Call it the British Fucking Invasion cuz two more Brit shows are coming over the pond and Pam isn’t the hottest part about them. Showtime’s Shameless premiered some time this week (we don’t get the rich channels in the Bureau, but who watches TV live anymore anyway?), introducing America to the Gallagher, a lower class Chicago family struggling to get by. Contentious Emmy Rossum plays de facto household leader while patriarch William H. Macy is too busy being a pants-pissing alcoholic. Gratuitous sex? Yes. A documentary on class in America? No. This week sees the debut of the Americanized version of Skins, a show about [real teenagers] written by [real teenagers] (thanks New Yorker). Having watched the British original (which is definitely worth checking out), I can tell you the plot is about a group of teenagers definitely on the fast side, but not really unrealistically so, getting by, dealing with teenager shit. Both shows have incited a debate about how much SEXDRUGS to show and what effect that has on the “quality” of television. Do the edgy sex scenes, made so prominent in Shameless’s sneak peek and the Skins teasers, exist solely to shock viewers, to prove the network isn’t afraid to “show it how it is”? There’s certainly plenty to be shocked about from what we’ve seen. Shameless has plenty of sexual acts in its sneak peek and it’s not just any party that has Sleigh Bells as its soundtrack. Especially with Skins, my first worry about MTV’s production was it would be too soft— not enough SEXDRUGS, too much PARENTSRESPONSIBILITYWORRYINGRATIONALITY. From the new teaser we see we’ve got a shot at getting over that first, easy hurdle. The second obstacle the US version will have to conquer is more subtle: character development and their relationships. Got to get us invested in the kids. This includes making the parents just as “fucked up” as the kids— otherwise we’ll see the kids as too bratty; their excesses not true escapism. We also must understand that accomplishing the first step— i.e. allowing plenty of “real” SEXDRUGS on screen— does not necessarily disqualify the show from accomplishing the second. In fact that’s where the realness or authenticity of the British original came from. So assuming MTV’s grown some balls (through Jersey Shore’s various scandals and success from featuring shallow sex-driven culture?) and can give us the SEXDRUGS we want, I’m prepared to admit they might have a chance here. There’s the media blitz from all brows, the Viacom-funded ad campaign (read: big billboard at Houston and Broadway), a “secret warehouse” party in NYC to sway us tastemakers (Sleigh Bells and Rusko?!?), and now this teaser. Hey, it might just work.
Nope, got ‘em!