Wednesday 11 April 2012

Skins - I’m not really home, am I?

Skins: 6x10 Finale.
You took a heart with so much room for love
and filled it with hatred and rage
until there was nothing left but for it to shrivel up and die.
People will tell you that if you don't love your neighbor, then you don't love God,
but no god of mine would put light in such unrighteous eyes.
Now the way we hold each other so tight
would look more like a noose if held up to the light
because we betray each other in dreams every night.
Now let's never speak of it again, all right? 
Titus Andronicus: Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ

Let’s start this review with something positive, because how else will I get through the episode that finishes off this utterly dreadful season of Skins
How did I fall in love with this show? It’s a question I’ve asked myself a couple of times – because I don’t remember a specific moment when that decision to review Skins was made, it just sort of happened and reasonably short essays soon turned into rambling questionably structured messes. I think going back to the beginnings will maybe help to shed light at why I found some aspects of this season (also, season four…) problematic and unsatisfying, but I should also point out, because perhaps I haven’t often enough before, that this is my subjective experience of the show. 
So, Naomi. It’s my very first episode, and one that is still my favourite. There are so many moments that are obviously wonderful, but one that I don’t see mentioned very often is when Emily confronts Naomi in front of Roundview after they’ve just spent that night together and Naomi is rude and stand-offish, until Emily hands her these ridiculous flyers for her campaign (when did she even have time to make them?) and says, “I made these in anticipation”. It’s my favourite tiny thing, not just because of the smile on Naomi’s face afterwards (before season four retconned all of Naomi’s emotional history, I saw this as one of the central moments – this is when she starts to realize that she is falling in love), but because it’s everything that Emily isn’t in season four. She knows how important political activism is to Naomi, and she knows her well enough to realize that she needs a bit of a push to actually overcome her fear of being hurt by people who don’t care as much as she does. This passion for causes, at least to me, has always been one of the things that Emily loves about Naomi, and seeing Naomi’s entire attitude, her activism, her frustration and anger about the carelessness of others, dismissed as some kind of protective mechanism against being in love (“I learned how to become a sarcastic bitch”), was one of the things that I disliked the most in Naomi’s speech. 
I probably wouldn’t be so adamant about this detail if it weren’t a pattern that started in season four and continued in season six. The characters were introduced as complex individuals with passions and talents and issues – Naomi was an activist, Franky was an artist, Mini was on the verge of turning her interest in fashion into something real with Franky’s help, Rich was passionate about music, Grace was a dancer – and the following season dismissed their passions and focused entirely on their issues, going as far as to argue that their passions were nothing but the expression of some childish passing infatuation with no relevance for their future lives, or worse, a protective armour that needed to be removed (I found this particularly grating with Rich, because that’s not what his season five episode was about at all, it was about figuring out how to share this thing he loves – and the decision to completely change Franky’s wardrobe is an expression of the same flawed idea). Now, I’m not saying that everybody sticks with the things they love doing when they are seventeen or eighteen – that teenagers never lose interest in something they used to love – but some of them don’t. Remember season two? Maxxie’s entire story was about realizing his dream of becoming a dancer against the wishes of his dad. Jal went to the audition, disgusted with the formalities of applying to the conservatory but driven enough by her love for music that she went there while struggling with another massive decision about the rest of her life. I’ve seen some of my friends at that moment in their lives when they had to decide between doing the reasonable, ordinary thing and pursuing the thing they truly loved, making that leap of faith, taking that risk, and it’s magical to see that bravery in someone you adore, and surely makes for a just as, if not more, compelling story than an ill-conceived spur-of-the-moment love triangle between three people that was apparently decided upon by drawing straws or throwing darts. 
But, you may say, wasn’t the moment at the end of Mini’s episode exactly that? Mini sees the ultrasound and suddenly, she can imagine a future that has this child in it. And I’ve spent a lot of time examining my reasons for not enjoying the teenage pregnancy storyline (and calling it that alone feels weird when I talk about Skins – because in a way, I’ve never actually thought about something the show did like this – the “dead parent” storyline, the “sexual identity” storyline etc. – but somehow, this felt like THE teenage pregnancy storyline, and Jal’s never ever did). I stopped caring about Alo after his episode. I didn’t like the way the baby magically became the one thing that drew these people who had been distant with each other for most of this year back together. I loved Mini for her complexity and contradictions, and regardless of how incredible Freya Mavor was in the role, the previous season established so many interesting potential stories to tell about her character that I don’t really understand why anyone thought scrapping all of them for the sake of this one was a good idea. 
 This ties in with another issue: the theme of the finale was quite obviously “family” and the different things that loaded word can mean, which would have been absolutely perfect for the final season of Skins (I know it might technically not be the final season of Skins but I’ll get to that later on), because in a way, the show has always been about finding a family when your biological one doesn’t provide what you need. It’s so perfect that I wish they’d shared the theme with the other writers of the season instead of just bringing it up in the finale and making it all the more obvious and literal. Maybe, if the rest of the season had been different, the finale might have worked: at the end of season five, the group figured out how to be with each other and share their happiness in the face of a ridiculous, occasionally hostile world – and now, most of them are united to provide a make-shift family for the new born baby.
Meanwhile, Franky comes to terms with her past and realizes that her mother never truly abandoned her and still has her in her heart. She is painting endless pictures of her, trying to come to terms with her loss. It’s the closure Franky needs to realize that she is truly loved by the parents she has, that there is nothing defective or wrong about her that makes people leave. 
Matty and Nick realize how important their love for each other is, that they must be able to rely on each other, considering their chronically absent father, and I wish I could truly enjoy their last moment together before Matty walks into the police station (“Have I ever told you I love you?” / “Every day. Mate. Every day since we were born.”) – because it’s beautifully written and acted – but I just can’t because of all the awful and horrible things they do before while creepily stalking Franky. 
This is the issue I have with the finale. I think Georgia Lester did a fantastic job, but there wasn’t much she could have done to salvage the characters from the utter destruction of the previous episodes. I want to feel Alo’s excitement over finally facing his responsibility and bringing up a child with someone he loves, but I can’t because only a couple of episodes before he was a creepy statutory rapist with a Peter Pan complex and awfully unlikeable. I want to be happy with the Alo that I sincerely felt for in season five, the boy who had to grow up quickly in a limited amount of time and carry a burden none of his friends understood, but I can’t since the show forgot about his development entirely because apparently it was easier to tell a story with a regressed version of his character than with the person he had become by the end of his own episode. I think I made peace with the fact that Franky in season six has barely anything to do with Franky in season five, but the objectively interesting story about her struggle with her abandonment issues and her attempt to face them by finding her mother were hindered by the fact that the doomed love story reared its ugly head towards the end to remind us how utterly ridiculous this season has been in its random coupling of characters previously almost unacquainted. There is no coming back from “I installed a tracking device on Franky’s phone because she won’t talk to me”, especially not after the same idea – of a creepily overprotective and possessive parent tracking every movement – was already used in the season before. If you thought that David Blood was creepy and weird (yet hilarious) when he tracked Grace, there is really no way to find Nick and Matty’s actions in this episode remotely romantic, especially not after what happened with Luke (even though, and this is one of my biggest qualms with season six, the abusive relationship was never mentioned, but hey, have some slut shaming from otherwise likeable – and therefore mournfully rare - characters instead!!). 
Arguably, the episode provided the best possible solution, by solving the issue before the final scene and making it about Franky’s attempt to find a home and Nick and Matty’s struggle to be with each other without causing pain. Grace tells Franky to face her fears and stop running away “or you’ll never really live at all” and to “tell the truth an all will be hunky dory”, so she does, and the truth, in case you did not guess because it’s not exactly obvious from previous scripts or the acting or, like, the previous season, is that Franky loves both Nick and Matty but realizes that both of them have sort of questionable reasons for loving her (Nick wants to save her from… something, Matty doesn’t want to deal with his issues with the law, both of them don’t want to accept that they really love each other), so she tells them she can’t be with them and it’s more important for them to be with each other anyway while she goes away to finally find out the truth about her biological mother. 

Georgia Lester succeeded (because truly, I would rather talk about the things that I liked instead of pondering what I disliked) in bringing back some of my favourite relationships of the previous season. The episode starts with Liv by Mini’s hospital bed, reading magazines to her as if they were stories, desperately trying to convey how sorry she is to someone who is seemingly unconscious. I could have watched a season of just Mini and Liv’s friendship and never grown tired of it – their devotion to each other, the way they know each other better than anyone else, but also the complications, the mutual jealousy, Mini’s at Liv’s confidence, Liv’s at the kind of attention Mini gets automatically, and the weird kind of rift that’s sort of been there for a couple of years now. I wish their attempts to negotiate their relationship now that Grace, who has always worked as a buffer between them, a mediator, had been given more time to play out. I was more invested in their friendship than in Mini’s relationship with Alo, but the solution to portray all of them as a potential make-shift family for the new-born baby was the best possible way out of it? 

And then there’s Franky, probably the most haunted among them, who fled from her safe home in order to track down someone who is only a distant memory because she can’t figure out what else to do to get rid of her demons. Instead of a mother, she finds a sister she barely remembers, in an abandoned house that works as a perfect representation of how Franky currently feels.
Clara: We’re better off without her. All she did was hurt people.
Franky: Did she hurt you too, Clara?
Clara: Don’t. I don’t know you.
Franky: Yes, you do! You know me better than anyone in the world. I just don’t remember which is hardly fair.
Clara: Fair?
Franky: So I need some stuff from you.
Clara: Fine. What would you like to know?  
Again, disregarding the complex person Franky Fitzgerald was in season five, the kind of girl trying to find a community despite having been so horribly abused before, struggling against her own instinct to lash out whenever she thought she was in danger: I liked this story. Franky desperately tries to figure out what is wrong with her, why people keep abandoning her, and Clara is dealing with her own issues (issues we don’t know, because Clara is merely a newly introduced supporting characters), and there seems to be no way to make both of these things work. Franky needs to know why her mother left her, and Clara is stuck somewhere between hating her mother and loving her too much to share what is left of her (and she is unable to re-live those horrible parts of her life, exactly those parts Franky is asking about), enough to tell a lie about her death. And fairness – fairness has nothing to do with it (it’s a beautiful reminder of what Franky said to Matty at the beginning of the season), because this cuts deeper than kindness, this is about the essence of who they are. 
If someone has a working theory of how this fits in with Franky’s inability to choose between Matty and Nick, I am honestly listening, because this is something I cannot make sense of. Liv blames her for “mugging them off” once Franky is returned to Bristol and the hospital Mini is in, but this isn’t actually what happened this season, is it? Franky broke up with Matty, Matty disappeared, Franky started a relationship with pretty clearly stated boundaries with Nick, and no matter how often Liv disregards the fact that Luke is the drug-dealing psychopath who is actually to blame for all of it just to shame Franky into feeling guilty (“You’ve been fucking everyone over all year.”), this is not what happened, and Mini’s successful attempt to stop them from fighting – arguing that her pregnancy magically puts everything into perspective, because babies are totally cute and stuff – isn’t necessary. Franky is not guilty of the thing Liv – and, honestly, this season of Skins – blames her for, and the ultimately frustrating thing is that there seems to be this underlying notion about the characters and what happened that is simply wrong, and inexplicable, because the only way to explain it would be to assume that the writers haven’t actually watched all the episodes. 
Mini: I’m having a baby, Liv. It doesn’t matter who fucks who over.
Liv: Don’t you understand? Grace would still be here if…
Mini: Being a bitch doesn’t help us.
Liv: Tell her that.
[Liv leaves]
Mini: The moment I met you I knew you’d be trouble. You need to sort your shit out there, Franks. You know, before our lives change and we’re not together anymore.
This is my favourite moment in the episode, and I hate it at the same time because the context is wrong. This is what Skins is also about – the celebration of finally getting out of school and starting a new life, and the anxiety and fear that comes with it – and the scary thought that there is a chance that the people you’ve spent so much time and meaningful moments with will not fit into that new life, and eventually drift away. This is why I’ve always liked the idea that Skins would follow its characters for two years and then leave everything to the imagination of the viewers – because it fits the content of the show. Maybe this isn’t everyone’s experience, but I personally felt like this after school, even though it was a gradual process since most of my friends at least stayed in the same city instead of moving away. The brutal and beautiful thing about school is that it forces people to be together, and once that bond is gone, some of the relationships fall apart as well. I’m not entirely sure if Mini should be quite as conscious of that possibility yet, because it tends to be more of an unspoken truth than something that is usually explicitly stated, but “before our lives change” definitely resonated with me. Sometimes, these passions – figuring out what you want to do with your life, what you’re good at – drives people apart, both geographically and mentally. 
It starts to happen to Liv and Alex almost immediately, when Alex wants to go to Thailand to party and Liv realizes that she’ll probably spend the summer hoping to get into a good University and win a scholarship (“Nobody wants me. Nobody stays.”). The question of belonging comes up, and the idea of rifts that weren’t as obvious before people started thinking about what to do after their grades arrived (or their acceptance letters into prestigious colleges – Rich is going to read English in Cambridge!). I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Anwar’s path in season two, because sometimes, loving your best friend enough to stick around for their dreams is a good plan, at least for some time – but ultimately, and this is really well-handled in this episode, this isn’t a plan that works long-term, so Liv has to move out and Alex has to get on that bus to the airport alone. 

Season six, in conclusion, to me, is a sorry tale about all the stories that were not told. Some of them are alluded to, but most of them are forgotten, lost in the empty void between seasons, the things that could have been but weren’t. 

Random notes: 

Jfc what a pretty episode, regardless of everything!!

If there's anything I left out, please ask about it in the comments. I know, this is awfully structured, but I couldn't really make it work any other way. 

I was debating on whether to mention this in the review but my dad has been in the hospital for a couple of weeks and struggling with health problems for the better part of this year so it seems only fair to mention that this probably increased my frustration with some of the upsetting aspects of this season (because… I don’t know, this seems so ridiculous, but I was kind of hoping that this season would make me feel as gleeful and elated and happy as the last one did?). I am really grateful for all the messages and comments. I never ever thought anyone would read my reviews, or take the time to respond to them. 

Sorry about the “review” for Mini and Franky. I couldn’t conceive of any other way to deal with my frustration. It was a stupid decision, because that format and my lack of command of it made it impossible to point out the poignant moments in that episode. I’d never felt this way about an episode of Skins before, so utterly angry and sad that I couldn’t even muster the energy to at least write a couple of more-or-less cohesive sentences; not even after the most discouraging and depressing moments during season four, and it was the worst way to prepare myself for the finale.

Hm. I tried to write the review without saying this, but there definitely is a part of me that isn’t exactly optimistic or enthusiastic about the idea of two teenagers without a family that is able to help them raising a child together, regardless of the awesome uncles and aunts, and as some people have pointed out, Mini did drink excessively during the first months of the pregnancy. And their plan is to raise their baby in a barn. Like, I’m not really a cynical person, but…

Franky’s adoption files are in a box labelled “sex toys” that contains exactly one condom. Personally, I am of the opinion that giving your adopted kid as much information as possible is a pretty good policy but I also understand why Geoff and Jeff didn’t necessarily want to give Franky the opportunity to hunt down her biological mother (and I have absolutely no experience with people who’ve been adopted when they were older).

As much as I liked Alex’ episode (and I know a lot of people didn’t, and probably with good reason), Matty would have deserved and desperately needed an episode of his own instead of just functioning in whatever way the respective writer needed him to in other people’s episode. I think in the hands of a competent writer, the story of his guilt, of his struggle with coming to terms with leaving Grace and Liv behind, would have been compelling, and apparently, nobody really bothered to figure out what to do with Alex after his episode. 

Matty just determinedly walking out of the café to steal a car cracked me up though. DO WE NEED MONEY?

Also, this came up while I wrote the final draft of the review. 

Um… good music choices? Burial, Sharon Van Etten, Black Keys, Titus Andronicus… sometimes I really think the music supervisor of Skins is in my head. 

Sharon Van Etten’s Give Out is perfect for Alex and Liv. 
You're the reason why I'll move to the city
you're why I'll need to leave
Nick, while stalkishly driving his stalker car to stalk Franky with his stalker phone: What the fuck are we doing? 
Look, it’s a GPOY for season six!!

I sort of really, really liked Clara? The idea that she would get out of this shitty situation by trying to be the opposite of her mother (just the contrast between her apartment and her mum’s house), and still be so fiercely protective of her and of her attention that she would tell that horrible lie to Franky just so she could keep her all to herself, because there is probably a part of her that hates the fact that her mother still paints pictures of Franky when she’s the one that stayed and took care of everything? This is a recurring theme with Skins as well, kids who try everything not to repeat the mistakes their parents made (and… perhaps… going to extremes that aren’t necessarily healthy). Leave it to Georgia Lester to introduce a character in the final episode and make her more interesting and complex than some of the regulars. And Georgia King did an incredible job at portraying her. 

Rich: I have never been more grateful to be an only child.


Franks and Mini watch a “stupid bitch shouldn’t go down there” movie in matching pyjamas. “Who wants a party when you can watch some well-choreographed torture instead”. This sort of sums up all my teenage years, tbh. 

I wish we’d have more insight into Rich after Grace’s death. He’s somehow found peace because Grace is still there, all the time. He gets the last words of the episode – Bye. And in a way, I wish these were the last words of the show, because I would rather imagine what happened to the characters than have is spelled out to me. 

Several characters said “it will be fine” in the episode, it kind of structures it, and I guess the point is that it is, at the end, because everyone, at least temporarily, has found a place in whatever family they belong to, be it an actual biological or an emotional family? But remember Doug, who didn’t want to tell that lie, and honestly, it always is a lie. It won’t be. All you can do is try and prepare yourself and surround yourself with people who will help, and I always thought that’s what Skins was about – not “it will be fine” but “there will be people who will be there for you if it isn’t”.  
Mini: Here we are again, sitting on a rank floor, danced out with blisters on our feet.
Liv: I thought you were only supposed to stay one hour at this party.
Mini: I never do what I’m told.
Liv: Some things never change.
Mini: I’m fucking terrified.
Liv: It’s fine. I’m terrified too. But I’m not going anywhere. I’m like shit on your stiletto. 


Anonymous said...

I'm glad Georgia Lester wrote this episode, because despite the cracks still showing I think she managed to coalesce it into the best possible finale given the material. Crossing my fingers she's involved with the proposed series 7 specials.

With it all over, I feel such a complicated relationship to this season. Much like 4, I see some of the beats and thematic elements they were trying to reach for, and I find them interesting, but the execution is just ridiculous. Part of me is still trying to find a way to explain the season away, because I really think this gen had become my favorites. I think a lot of these issues could have worked too had they not basically erased series 5 in terms of the characters progression and personality and perhaps paced it all better.

As much as I love the darker turn in the second part of a gen it unfortunately seems coupled with losing the character drive focus and becoming more plot driven and forcing the characters to fit the plot. Such as Nick and the phone tracking, which is a betrayal to his character, and really if they needed to get Nick and Matty to where Franky was they could have explained it away in a less creepy fashion.

Anyway, I suppose much as many things pain me about this season I should focus on the good elements. As always the cinematography is amazing, the music is impeccable, and I loved the Franky running sequence at the pool party despite it being slightly over the top. Matty despite being defined by his obsession and on the sidelines, otherwise felt consistent as a character--he always seems mysterious but is revealed to be quite ordinary and just a frightened kid like everyone else. Rich's characterization seemed fine as well, despite him being largely absent, which I guess preserved him. I don't mind his shift away from the metal dressing as it seemed gradual and he was still the same person in spirit. I also think, the rest of the messed up drama aside, Franky choosing neither Levan was a good beat rather than forcing some sort of pairing. Liv stayed mostly likeable and the voice of reason throughout the series, a few strange moments of Franky-hating aside.

It's probably the best it could have ended, but its still a letdown (and its strange that ive seen a lot of people bored by series 5 loving this series so who knows, maybe its just not for me).

Sorry for rambling haha. And its really none of my business, but for what its worth, I'm sorry about your dad. I hope everything turns out okay. I know that doesn't really help anything, but, yeah.

Oh, which reminds me, Franky's dads. I loved them. Everytime they showed up they remained real, and patient, and understanding. They were a bright spot in the season for me.

cathy leaves said...

I think this was the best possible finale for the season, and I'd love for Georgia Lester to write one of the three episodes, should they ever happen (it would also be fabulous if they could bring Jack Thorne back in... would be a small comfort after The Fades was cancelled...)
Regarding the themes of the season... I probably should have paid more attention earlier, but to me, analysing the themes of the season was difficult because it felt like most of the things that actually happened in the individual episodes were negated in the very next one? I guess 'family' is an important issue that is dealt with in every episode - Nick's struggle to come to terms with Matty, Alex saying goodbye to his grandmother, Franky's relationship with her dads and Mini's entire arc... but then there's the fact that Nick and Matty's entire story, the finale being the exception (thanks to Georgia Lester) was about Franky, Alex disappeared, Mini and Franky disregarded what happened at the end of Franky's episode, and Mini's struggle was mostly about Alo.
The other theme - guilt... Matty's struggle could have been such an interesting story, and yet, it was never portrayed on screen (instead, we get one tiny scene with Rich?!). Franky's was mostly reduced to Liv's comments (which is all the more painful because Liv is one of the few characters this season I liked, but she always missed the point with Franky), because nothing that happened in her episode was ever addressed again.
I think you point about this season being plot- rather than character-driven is spot-on. I went into this season expecting it to be the very last one, but I guess this was an attempt to gain more viewers to get renewed? The criticism that season five - for me, personally, the best season so far - was "too boring" has always baffled me. I've honestly not bothered to find opinions by people who've enjoyed this season - getting a perspective radically different from my own might have helped.
And my frustration with this season wasn't about the darkness and seriousness (I do love Emily, after all!). I think there's a difference between addressing serious issues and risking, to quote Joss Whedon, not giving the audience what it wants, and edginess for the sake of it and without the guts or skills or whatever was missing to figure out how to do it with the established characters instead of entirely new ones wearing the same faces.

Okay, some things I love about this season: Franky's conversation with her dad (and YES, her dads in general, probably the best parents on Skins ever), the bits and pieces of Liv and Mini, the acting (because regardless of the writing, the cast was brilliant and I sincerely hope that those who want to pursue acting are successful), Liv's episode, David Blood and Rich talking about Grace, ghost!Grace (this is maybe controversial but I thought it worked for the most part), the cinematography (mostly), the music (mostly), Josie Long (because I'm always happy to see her).

I guess all that's left to do now is to imagine the best possible scenario for those three episodes and just hope that the people involved in making them are just as emotionally invested as we are?

Btw, if this is you "rambling", congratulations, this sounded considerably more coherent than anything I've managed to write about this season. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

Julieta said...

So I’m from Buenos Aires, and I’ll tell you how I got to your blog – globalization magic? – ‘cause I see that you like stories.

I started watching Skins online three weeks ago (before my holidays ended and I had to focus on College yet again) and watched two to five episodes almost every day till I finished with gen 3 last... Monday, i think – yeah, I’m a little vicarious when I enjoy a book, a film, a tv series, so I’ve been “living” in Bristol for three weeks. I guess I’m just really passionate and get easily involved when something is incredibly well done to the point that I can almost feel it, or maybe it’s just a way of numbing myself out of reality by being empathetic with fictional characters... (i’m still figuring out how this works, but it’s a coping mechanism), anyway, I go through life picking up quotes – a process that helps me order my thoughts and have a shared or dissenting POV regarding... well, everything – and looking for some Skins’ quotes, Google kept sending me back to your blog, until one day (Grace’s episode) I decided to read your entire review and find out that you were very funny and insightful, so basically from that point onwards you went through all series 6 with me. Gen 3 is the one to which I felt more disconnected to, so I needed the ‘support’. I liked how Franky was introduced, such a powerful promise, but when the Mean Girls appeared, I was a bit disappointed (I actually liked the film, Mean Girls, as absurd as one may think it is, ‘cause it uses comedy to adress major issues – that is, if you care to see them, since as in most things you just have to care enough to pierce the veil and learn something). For the first part of series 5, the characters seemed too stereotypical (unlike ALL previous characters – yes, you could stereotype them if you wanted too but, from moment 1, you could see there was something else behind each and every one of them). Fortunately, little by little, I saw them getting out of the void cases until they became interesting enough (although, I never really lost interest ‘cause, as you many times pointed out, Skins if beautifully written, acted, and the music and cinematography are truly compelling, so I just knew it would eventually get somewhere – even if it was that place where you don’t actually know what happened to the character and it’s irritating yet amazing not to know). Maybe it’s because I had such high hopes and Skins had gained such high esteem from me that even when I did not like the clichéd storylines in series 6, I could still see why those characters were where they were. I could see why Franky was behaving as if she were a different person (as if she had lost or find her true self in the desert of Matty's devotion). I could see why Rich was so out of sight (I still wonder if in the final episode he said ‘bye’ to us or to Grace). I could see why Alo went back to where he was before moving the rock (“Man is the only animal that trips twice [or over and over again] over the same stone”). I could see why Nick and Matty clung to the idea of Franky (notice I said ‘the idea of’ her, instead of just ‘Franky’). I could see why Mini’s vulnerability was latent in every breath and at the same time overly exposed. I could see why Liv was the only one struggling with everyone’s ghosts. I chose to see them through the filter of their personalities as they were first introduced; you and Anonymous up here said series 5 was character-driven and series 6 was plot-driven, and come to think of it, that can be said of all generations, I believe it is Skins dynamics: they present you with the characters so that in their second season you can see them deal with different conflicts through the prism they handed out to you in the first place. Lastly, I could see...

Julieta said...

...I could see why Alex’s freedom was so important, and this is the one character I’d like to unfold: do you remember this passage from Parks and Recreation you mentioned about this character who vacationed in people’s lives? well, from my perspective, that is exactly what Alex was doing here, but positively so, entering their lives as a breath of fresh air and leaving when every chess piece of grief had been moved – almost as if Grace had sent him, which may sound silly but the magnetism and strengh of Skins, to me, has been that it is incredibly grounded, shocks you from time to time with sth you don’t expect (sth dramatic, sometimes the exact opposite to grounded) and yet manages to make it fit ‘cause there’s always a turn to go back to Earth (except perhaps where Mini loves Alo, and Franky’s mum is alive and loves her – BTW, I totally loved what you did with Mini & Franky’s episode, it was hilarious! do you write professionally? ‘cause you should!).

All in all, SKINS is vitriolic, mordacious, fucking amazing. Or maybe it’s just me, maybe I was predisposed to be amazed by it from the moment Chris died (or maybe, from Effy’s very first episode, I’m not sure).

I am yet to read your comments on the previous seasons, I don’t have that much free time right now but I’m looking forward to it ‘cause you had expressed here and there that you felt disgruntled by series 4 and... s4 is the one I liked the most! But it is a good thing that you didn’t liked it as much as I did, your reviews may help me notice things I didn’t see and/or reinforce my views on it or make me ask myself why I understand some bits of it the way I understand them – I’m using Skins as catharsis, as you might have noticed. I’m just going through one of those times in your life when you just stand still and look around, you know what I mean?

I don’t usually pay attention to blogs but yours deserved it, so I’m sorry for the extension of this (rather messy) comment, but I thought I owed you some words since I have been reading (and enjoying) yours. And also, thank you.

Hope your dad is okay.


P.S. I think you'd like Freaks&Geeks.

cathy leaves said...

First of all, thanks for the comment. Like I said above, I would have loved hearing dissenting voices during the run of the season, and hearing your perspective on the characters in season six actually made me want to re-watch all of it, which isn't a feeling I've ever had before since the finale.
Sometimes I wonder what my reaction to season six would have been if I hadn't gone into it as enthusiastically and optimistically as I did. I never ever expected to care about season five as much as I did - and even though I love all the other generations as well, I hadn't really cared about ALL the characters as much before, in almost equal measure. Maybe it was my frustration with how insular the characters seemed in season four that contributed to how much I connected with this incredible feeling of community by the end of the fifth season - and seeing that come apart so violently at the beginning of the next season, and not just because of the traumatic accident and death (something felt off to me right from the start, the way Franky and Matty entered the scene, the way every else was behaving), overshadowed the rest of the season for me. I think by itself, the season would probably be pretty solid - it's dark, and profoundly about obsessions and people dealing with grief and guilt differently, and ultimately falling apart (and finally coming together, in a way) - but to me, I just didn't recognize the characters anymore. The point you make about character-driven and plot-driven is really good, and it definitely applies to season four as well (and maybe it comes naturally with how Skins is structured, with the fact that we really only get to spend very little time with these characters if you really think about it), but it always felt to me like a lot of future conflicts and issues were well-established in season five and then never ever picked up again (especially Mini's eating disorder!). Take Alo, who was established as a character who cares so deeply about his friendship with Rich that he would choose not to share his troubles with him realizing he would put a damper on one of the happiest moments in his life, and then was an absolutely terrible friend to him in the next season (and I just can't help but feel that his story in season six took something away from the powerful resolution of his episode in season five, which was one of my favourites - even if I absolutely agree that people don't always move forward, that they sometimes regress and that big symbolic gestures aren't the same as genuine growth).
But what I think I'll do is watch all of season six again, with a healthy distance, and re-assess it. Loved your comment about Skins as catharsis, because yes, this show is fucking amazing, and this is exactly how I first got into it (early into season three) - my life had just changed dramatically and my best friend had moved away and even though I'd been out of school a while, it did something strange to my memories or my feelings about the past that I can't quite explain. It definitely wasn't nostalgia, maybe more like having some kind of new point of view or filter to interpret my own history.

(and my dad is doing much better now, thanks! He was in the hospital for most of the season and maybe that's part of the reason why I've never gone back, because Skins, to me, has also always been incredibly personal, and there's barely any other show where I know exactly what was happening in my life when I first watched the episodes)

Globalization magic is a great way of putting it. I've experienced a lot of it with this blog, so thanks for sharing your story as well as your interpretation!

Greetings from Vienna,

btw, I DO like Freaks and Geeks! Also because I've made a resolution to get as many people as possible into this show, I highly recommend My Mad Fat Diary.