Skins Creator Defends Shows as Advertisers Bail
That's to be expected, and after reading his appraisal of the show and the consequences of its content, it's hard to see what all the fuss is about.
His contention that characters on "Skins" must deal with the consequences of their actions sounds like learned experience.
In other words, he knew a show that deals - explicitly to some - with teens, school, drugs, alcohol, love and parents would be a talker and he's prepared to deal with the fallout.
In a blog in the Huffington Post, he writes, "In the UK, viewers and commentators very quickly realized that although there are some sensational aspects to the show, 'Skins' is actually a very serious attempt to get to the roots of young people's lives.... It is just that these are characterized from the point of view of the many young people who write the show and has a very straightforward approach to their experiences; it tries to tell the truth. Sometimes that truth can be a little painful to adults and parents."
Elsley continues, "Consequences do flow from incorrect or selfish behavior but in the show, these are shown to be unexpected, hard to predict, and more to do with the loss of friendship than anything else, which in any context, is a disastrous outcome."
And really, if you've ever taken a New York City subway with teenagers just getting out of school for the day, nothing on "Skins" should surprise you.
But consequences of airing a show that makes people squirm are still rolling out. Late Monday, THR reported that a sixth advertiser, Schick, had pulled its ads from "Skins." For those keeping score, the other five advertisers who have bailed on the show are Subway, H&R Block, Taco Bell, Wrigley, and GM.
"Skins" began its 10-episode season on Jan. 17, 2011, on the wings of heavy promotion by MTV, generally positive reviews and high anticipation by its young target audience.
There was also a smattering of pre-opening outcry, mainly as an inevitable protest from the Parents Television Council, a TV watchdog group. It declared that "'Skins' may well be the most dangerous television show for children that we have ever seen," which had to be as welcome a critical rave as MTV could wish.
The premiere of "Skins" drew 3.3 million viewers, 1.2 million of them under 18, the Nielsen Co. reported. This was a robust turnout, though hardly in the league of "Jersey Shore," which, a week ago, seized 8.4 million viewers for its Season 3 debut.
On Thursday, a front-page story in The New York Times introduced the notion that "Skins" may -- with the emphasis on "may" -- be trafficking in kiddie porn.
"Skins" producers have boasted of its gritty realism. In that spirit, many of the teenage characters are played by actors who are 17 or younger, and therefore legally minors.
Executives at MTV "in recent days" have become concerned that some scenes "may violate federal child pornography statutes," the Times reported, without naming those executives.
Faced with the possibility that future episodes of the show may be breaking the law, those unnamed MTV executives "ordered the producers to make changes to tone down some of the most explicit content," the Times reported.
Oddly, the only potentially problematic scene the Times identified occurs in the third episode, airing Jan. 31. Jesse Carere, a 17-year-old actor playing the tragicomic character Chris, is shown from behind, naked, striding down the street. In the preview of that episode provided to critics, the played-for-laughs sequence lasts about 10 seconds, and it's impossible to tell whether Carere was really in the buff when shooting the scene.
In the face of brewing controversy, MTV said "Skins" is a show "that addresses real-world issues confronting teens in a frank way.
"We review all of our shows and work with all of our producers on an ongoing basis to ensure our shows comply with laws and community standards," the statement continued. "We are confident that the episodes of 'Skins' will not only comply with all applicable legal requirements, but also with our responsibilities to our viewers."
Any scenes that might leave MTV, well, exposed will be up to the lawyers to determine, if it comes to that. In the four episodes shared with critics, "Skins" shows almost no skin. Despite all the talk of sex, there is almost no explicit sex depicted.
Nonetheless, by raising the specter of kiddie porn, the Times story made "Skins" notorious with new urgency. And it gave the show's detractors a fresh new front for attack.
Within hours of the story, the PTC called for the U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committees and the Department of Justice to "immediately open an investigation regarding child pornography and exploitation on MTV's 'Skins'."
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