Is MTV showing too much skin?

Here and Now

This story was originally covered by PRI’s Here and Now. For more, listen to the audio above.

“The most dangerous television show for children” is MTV’s new drama, “Skins,” according to the Parents Television Council. The show is about high school students doing drugs, having sex, and — so far — not suffering bad consequences. “Skins” has received attention for its controversial content, and has lost many of it’s original sponsors including Taco Bell, L’Oreal, Wrigley, and Schick.

Though critics have attacked it, the show debuted with more than 3 million viewers, a high for a new series on MTV. It was especially popular in the key the audience demographic of 12-34 year-olds. Bob Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, believes the critics are being overly hard on the new teen drama.

“I actually find it a very compelling show. I think it does a lot of stuff, and goes into a lot of dramaturgical territory that other programs haven’t done before,” Thompson says. He goes on to say that although the characters may be behaving badly, the show succeeds in making the characters relatable and appealing. Time Magazine has praised “Skins” for depicting the real lives of kids, and portraying characters less seen in this genre, like openly gay students. Thompson continues, “At the same time, I’m really understanding of why a lot of parents would be made very nervous about this.”

While it’s nothing new for a show to portray teens rebelling and participating in morally ambiguous activities, “Skins” is breaking the moral creed that if teens make bad decisions in programming, they will experience consequences. Thompson responds to the uproar about this break from the rules, “I think a lot of adults complaining about this probably had a period of their life that, at least in some ways, may have resembled this show. They don’t advocate it now, but it didn’t necessarily turn them into monsters or dead.”


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