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'Skins' on 'Skins': UK vs US

By and Chris Allen
Hmmmm, the Skins US trailer got a bit of a mixed response didn’t it? Well, Digital Spy have been lucky enough to have a sneak peek at episodes one and five of MTV’s version of the show so read on to find out what we thought...

The Style

Skins USA logo
In an effort to keep the “Skins brand” alive, they’ve copied the UK version’s credit sequence style (flashy images, colours, sexy bits), logo and ad-break bumpers. But the music’s new – it has lyrics alongside tinkly piano. As for the style of the show itself, you’ll be pleased to hear it’s just as gritty and youthful as the original, although there is a saddening lack of proper nudity and the swears are bleeped. The f**kers.

The Story

Stanley gets his balls squeezed
Those of you that have seen the trailer will know that the plot of episode one is the same – a deliberate move on the part of creator Bryan Elsley to lay the foundations himself before introducing a host of new American writing talent later in the season. Everything you remember from ep one in the UK is there – squeezed balls, trampolines, a car in a lake – sometimes word-for-word or shot-for-shot. But stick with it, because episode five is more original. Written by new writer Mark Hammer, it sees the characters hit broadly similar plot points to the UK version but by taking a very different journey involving Stanley's dad's prized car, an army base and an amazingly annoying teacher, whose best line is: "Drugs? No thanks - I'm high on life."

The Characters

Tony from Skins USA
Tony from Skins
Tony: He’s still called Tony and he still is Tony: he's ridiculously charming, uses sex as a weapon and is as cocky as ever. But new star (and amateur boxer) James Newman is more rugged, macho and well, American. Think Nick Hoult’s Tony mixed with last season's Cook if you will. Although his duvet cover's not as good as UK Tony's.

Michelle from Skins USA
Michelle from Skins
Michelle: Tony still calls her Nips and she still hates it, but just like in the UK series, she can’t quit him. Although she retains her frisson with Stanley/Sid, the US version is more spunky and a better cat-fighter. Out of all of them, she’s the most similar.

Stanley from Skins USA
Sid from Skins
Stanley / Sid: The loveable nerd becomes a lazy bum in the transition but he's still the hapless virgin who you root for. Less Ron Weasley and more Michael-Cera-as-Scott-Pilgrim in the looks department, he’s still at the command of Tony and desperately in love with Michelle.

Tea from Skins USA
Maxxie from Skins
Tea / Maxxie: Yikes! They made the gay dancer a lesbian cheerleader? This might be controversial as Maxxie was so well loved, but we reckon that feisty Tea should be given a chance. She’s strong and stands up to Tony, but their complicated relationship might just cause tension later on (now where have we seen that before….?)

Chris from Skins USA
Chris from Skins
Chris: Full disclosure: we can’t remember if we always loved the UK Chris as much as we do now we know he dies horribly, but we weren’t as enamoured with the Stateside version. Maybe it’s because he’s a bit rougher, more of a skinhead – but we think you’ll see a softer side come out. He’s still in love with his emotionally wonky teacher after all.

Cadie from Skins USA
Cassie from Skins
Cadie / Cassie: From pale and wan Hannah Murray to wild and creepy Britne Oldford, Cadie is just as weird but in a very different way. She makes erotic sculptures – out of vegetables – and she loves knives. She’s still Tony’s choice to pop Stanley’s cherry and still ODs on a trampoline, but she replaces Cassie’s floatiness with a deadpan menace. Barring Maxxie's gender-swap, she's the most changed character.

The Rest: And fear not, fans of other characters – they’re all still there, we just didn’t get enough of a feel for them to judge. Jal becomes Daisy (and her clarinet becomes a trumpet); Anwar is now Abbud, and he still struggles to balance Islam with partying; and Effy is reincarnated as Eura, who looks a lot like Cassie, but remains as enigmatic and impassive as Kaya Scodelario’s version.

The cast of Skins USA season 1
The cast of Skins season 1
The Bottom Line

To be honest, if you’ve seen ep one of the UK Skins, you may be a little bored of the opener to the MTV series, but don’t give up too quickly, because from what we’ve seen, there’s lots of humour, emotion and conflict to come in the new episodes. And with Bryan Elsley’s plan to eventually make this a completely new version of Skins, coupled with a very promising new cast, we think this is one to watch.

Are you excited about the US series of Skins? Leave your comments below!

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