BAKER: MTV’s “Skins” shows too much skin

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Katelyn Baker

Like everyone else, I have my guilty little pleasures. Mine come mainly in the form of Bravo TV.

Camille Grammer’s antics are hard to resist on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” and the sheer awfulness of Kim Zolciak’s voice on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” has me coming back for every episode.

There is something so satisfying about watching drama that doesn’t exist in my life play out in these women’s so-called “lives.” I have never been so thankful for my modest Milwaukee lifestyle as when I watch the women of Beverly Hills ripping out each other’s hair and gossiping about Taylor’s fake lips.

So I, like the other 3.3 million viewers, was admittedly a little excited about the “Skins” premiere on MTV a couple weeks back. Here, I was thinking, “Yes, a new shallow show to watch after a couple hours of economics homework!” I had read about the show, based off an enormously popular British TV show of the same name, in the January issue of Nylon. I was excited to get wrapped up in the lives of these crazy teenagers, adding the show to my weekly Hulu lineup.

But about 15 minutes in, I must have had a deer in the headlights look on my face as I shut my computer and let out a huge sigh. Now I see why advertisers are pulling out faster than a client on “Million Dollar Listings.” There is something disconcerting about the raw presentation of 16-year-old high school kids buying weed to bring to a party where the goal of the evening is jaw-dropping sex. Even in this day and age.

MTV has always been known for its racy content — content that put it on the “off limits channel list” at the Baker household while I was growing up. With shows like “Teen Mom” that I believe have an impact on young girls across the nation, MTV propagates a culture that I hope my youngest sister will never be a part of.

If I ever came home and found my sister rolling in with her friends at 3 a.m. with makeup dripping down her cheeks and clothes torn in all the wrong places, I would pass out. It seems as though “Skins” promotes the behavior that has older generations rolling their eyes and shaking their heads. Quite frankly, I don’t blame them.

I grew up on PBS shows like “Wishbone” and “Arthur.” So, it took me a while to see any positive aspects of a show like “Skins,” but I think I’ve finally found it: It shows the possible outcome of miscreant behavior in urban teens.

Perhaps “Skins’” shock value actually has some hidden potential to deter irresponsible behavior beneath layers of binge drinking, random hook-ups and drug use. At the end of the first episode, when the car sinks and the weed is lost and all seems hopeless, the message I got was that the 40 minutes of promiscuous behavior was all in vain. Nobody got laid, nobody got high and now everybody is miserable.

So yes, there is shockingly inappropriate behavior, but it doesn’t actually get these teens anywhere, at least not in their pilot episode. And that’s enough for me, and hopefully everyone else who will probably keep watching the show, to never give in to that degrading lifestyle. So, while I think MTV is portraying something that could be labeled as “child pornography,” (and has been by the Parents Television Council), it is not necessarily promoted — at least not yet.

While I’ve only seen the first episode due to my lack of shallow TV time this week, I am still interested in following the show. I want to see whether it keeps making me feel grateful for my boring college life, or whether the lives of these kids’ actually go somewhere because of their questionable behavior — for better or for worse.

Because as soon as the plot starts rewarding 16-year-olds for their crazy behavior, I think that is when we have a problem. Until then, I’ll maintain my opinion that the way MTV portrays them, the characters cannot be nearly as happy as I am, and therefore their behavior is obviously not all it’s cracked up to be.

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