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TV Review: Skins Seven

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So that’s it then, Skins is (almost) done – for good this time. There’s one more episode tonight, and it’s over. Without spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, Cook comes to some violent self-realisations and comes to terms with his demons, in a wood.

James CookThis seventh outing for the teen-drama has been a mixed bag and emerges as a completely different beast to the brilliant first series. When the series first emerged, it was its mixture of mundane, modern-life realism, unflinching approach to youth issues and quirky comic edge that made it such a breath of fresh air – a punch in the face of staid ‘youth’ programming.

Increasingly the quirk was replaced by overbearing angst and drama, focusing purely on the turmoil of the characters lives, until a limp two-series run with the third generation that felt like a try-hard attempt and being ‘controversial’ and ‘cutting-edge’. An empty shell of a programme, this felt like nail in the coffin of the Skins legacy.

When series seven was announced with the creators (and best writers) back in tow, and bringing in back characters from the show’s better days it felt like Skins had another chance to leave in the same way it entered the world – with a bang.

And in many ways the three, two-episodes have gone some way to mend the legacy. They were Skins at its most polished, with great acting, well-placed cameos, stunning cinematography and a big-budget sheen.

It has dealt with issues – Effy’s story arch covered amongst other issues; banker’s greed, cancer, excessive drug use and regret without moralising or let them overpower the narrative.

But bellow the shiny brilliance of the visual aspects, the narrative at the show’s beating heart, failed to show any. These episodes lacked the realism and warmth that made these characters so identifiable in the first place, making them little more than ghosts walking through the narrative.

This is none more apparent in the vapid episodes focusing on Cassie (played brilliantly by Hannah Murray). Maybe the emptiness of the episodes intended to mirror the emptiness that her character was feeling in her life, but none of it felt believable or real. In the past her kooky nature and problems – her eating disorder and self-involved parents - had a real-life edge that made it work.

Cook’s episodes worked best, and had an air of Nicolas Winding Refn's brilliant film Drive about them – a lone anti-hero dealing with his demons and forced to reveal his true nature when confronted with a dark past.

These episodes would have also benefited from tying in the narratives of other characters from the past and how their current lives intertwine with the present. For example, how did Freddie’s death and the actions Cook took in revenge affect the group and the dynamic moving forward – this is touched upon but left largely untouched.

All in all Skins seven is a near return to form, that whilst visually stunning lacks that special something that made the series such a hit in the first place.

Skins Series 7 and Skins Series 1-7 Boxset out on 4DVD on 12th August.




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