If the first generation of Skins, meaning series 1 and 2, was graded A, the second generation would be a B, possibly B+. I was unsure if I would like it when I started watching, but thanks to characters that were both complex and complicated I really enjoyed it. Although it didn’t quite live up to the first generation, it was very entertaining and sometimes deeply moving. I will admit that I cried at more than one time while watching it, especially large parts of series 4.
I already discussed what makes this show so good and fun to watch in my last Skins review, so I will only write about what makes this generation specifically stand out. It’s hard to pinpoint, but this feels like a darker generation. There are a lot of moments you can sit and laugh at, but the themes that keep the show going in series 5 are among other things death, suicide, mental instability, murder and heartbreak. This makes for great storytelling, and it also makes the fluctuation between the very happy and very sad moments a lot more dramatic. As a result you really feel for the characters when they hit rock bottom and feel just as proud of them when they pick themselves up off the ground to continue fighting. It’s the perfect mix of tragedy and comedy, and while it doesn’t always let its character have happy endings, they let them embrace their situations and make the best of them.
Just like the last generation, I felt connected to every character by the end of the show. I was unsure about what I would think of Effie when she no longer was the mysterious little sister who never spoke, but having watched it all I think she is one of my favourite characters. I think Kaya does a great job portraying her, and I could not help but feel for her as she spirals downwards and struggles with how she sees the world.
The other character that stuck out to me was Cook. I became really interested in his character in the premiere because he was easy-going and fun. After his episode very early in the season I was a little on the fence about him. He has a lot of issues, and although you don’t get a clear answer to what those are in his episode, you get an early sense of them from his interaction with his friends. As his arc continued I got a lot more on board with his character, and somewhere between the series 3 finale and the end of the generation he became my favourite character. He is incredibly well acted, and even though his character annoyed the hell out of me several times, I never thought he was a bad person, which is indicative of the actor’s skills.
Lastly, I really like Emily and Naomi. Their characters on their own were a lot of what made this generation great, and I liked how their relationship was written. It was a great balance between flawed and sweet, and I think that despite everything that happens throughout the two series they were handled really well, and the ending to their story was great.
The reasons why this generation gets a grade lower than the first is mostly a result of the love I have for the first one and the fact that I watched it so recently. However, I also think that this series was a little too dark at times, and I’m not sure how I feel about what they did to Freddie’s character in the end. As a whole, the series 4 finale was a little confusing and left a little too much unresolved.
All in all, it was a great generation as a whole. I have started the third generation and will write a review soon. I miss the old characters, but I hope that by the end it makes me so invested in their world that I don’t think about it.