You Can All Relax: MTV Cancels Controversial Skins (Our Take)

In news that comes as no surprise to anyone, MTV has canceled the controversial drama, Skins and it will not be returning for a second-season. The American adaptation of the popular British show of the same title came under fire from parents’ groups for its graphic depictions of no-consequence teen drug and alcohol use and promiscuity. The watchdog group the Parents Television Council, was the most vocal in its campaign against the show, proclaiming it as possibly, “…the most dangerous television show for children that we have ever seen,” and urged the FBI to begin an investigation of MTV and the show’s producers for possible child pornography because of the depictions in the show by the actors in the cast, many of whom were under 18.

Now, as loathed as we are to agree with the PTC and other such similar groups as we believe that it is ultimately the responsibility of the parent to monitor and control their children’s viewing habits and no one else’s, they were right on this one.  Now, we don’t necessarily agree with the contention that the show was engaged in the production of child pornography, but we do agree that it is by far the most vulgar and inappropriate show ever aired on basic cable.

We certainly aren’t in favor of censorship, however, there are certain standards that the networks agree to abide by even if they aren’t explicitly required by the FCC and those standards are pretty universal and are different for the over-the-air major networks, basic cable networks and premium cable networks.  MTV violated those standards by airing this show that should have never been on basic cable because of the content.  The fact is that, although the networks are under no obligation to be the guardians of our children, we’ve come to expect them for the most part to at least not go out of their way to make it difficult for us and we’ve known what to expect from them based on the venue.

Normally, we wouldn’t even assign any responsibility to a network over objectionable content, because as we noted, parents need to monitor their kids but there are two mitigating factors at play here: one, the noted violation of the “unwritten rule” and two, MTV and the cast actually defended Skins as “…a show that addresses real-world issues confronting teens in a frank way,” and that parents who have a problem with the content have “serious trust issues,” so, MTV has taken a position that they know what’s best for your children better than you do and therefore needed to be called out for it. Their argument fails miserably for a few reasons. First, not all kids are engaging in this kind of behavior to begin with and certainly not to the extent as depicted in such an exaggerated sense on this show.  We were all young once and God knows that we engaged in our share of self-destructive behavior, however, one of the bigger problems that this show has is that these kids face ZERO consequences for any of this behavior and there’s nothing real about that.  Furthermore, whether or not this behavior by teens is a reality or not is irrelevant.  It’s the duty of every parent to do what they can to keep their children from making bad choices and engaging in self-destructive behavior and it’s offensive and absurd that MTV’s position is that parents just need to accept that this behavior is happening whether they like it or not.  We’re not suggesting that MTV or any network needs to take a parenting role with our children, just don’t go out of your way to undermine us and make our jobs more difficult.  Also, any parent who trusts their teen is a f*cking moron.

As repulsive as the content was, we would have had no problem with it having been aired on a premium cable network such as Showtime or HBO.  It did not belong on a basic cable network and although the show was rated TV-MA DLS it was far worse than your standard TV-MA DLS fare and oddly, the show seemed to be specifically targeting minors and promoting the behavior depicted on the show.  If you don’t believe us, check out the Skins webpage and in particular click on the map in the upper right-hand corner labeled “Where It All Went Down” where teens are encouraged to:

Leave your mark on where it all happened! Browse and share the places where memories were made – and the scattered pieces of nights you can’t really remember. Post the truth about the biggest parties, heartbreak, friends, sex, and every kind of trouble.

…And they didn’t expect parents’ groups to be up in arms over a show that promotes this behavior? Where it gets tricky for us is that it appears that MTV was primarily intentionally trying to push these behaviors as a primary goal of the show because if the primary goal of the airing the show was to make money, they wouldn’t be marketing it towards children.  As we’ve noted several times before, advertisers are interested in one thing and one thing only:  the 18 – 49 demographic.  They don’t pay for advertising minutes based on youth viewership (unless we’re talking Nickelodeon or another children’s network).  So, the only conclusion that can be logically arrived at was that, at the time, MTV placed more of a value promoting this agenda than they did in having the show be successful and profitable. That’s not just bizarre… that’s just plain creepy.

Despite the noted content issues we had with it, its undoing was the fact that it really wasn’t a very good show.  We watched it, found the characters and situations to be completely unrealistic and overall the show had nothing but a negative, pessimistic view of life in general.  The characters were completely unlikable and unrelatable and left the viewer with no reason to want to return the next week.

The ratings, although sharply declining over the course of the first season weren’t that awful by MTV’s standards for the timeslot, and any other show probably could have survived for a second season but the PTC raised so much of a stink contacting advertisers that within two weeks of the premiere lost six major advertisers including Taco Bell, GM, Wrigley, Subway, H & R Block and Schick.  With the word out on the street that advertisers were running away from the very controversial content on this show, there was ZERO chance for a second season.

We say, “good riddance” and maybe MTV will think twice next time about putting such an inappropriate show on their network and marketing it toward kids. If you never watched the show, here’s a small sample of what you missed, and this is just the trailer so it’s tame compared to what was actually on the show.