Before I write about what I'm going to write about, I want to let you all know that tomorrow I'll be hosting the amazing Michelle McLean on the blog. Her book Homework Helpers: Essays & Term Papers is out now so she'll be stopping by with a guest post about how to jazz up non-fiction. Michelle rocks so stop by tomorrow and show her some love!
So here it is: The Happy Days....not so happy. Charles wasn't always in charge. That Full House was full of lies. Prime time family shows are bullshit.
There. I said it.
This is a difficult post for me to write because it involves the new MTV version of Skins, a brilliant British import. It's difficult because the remake was horrible. It was a helpless, hapless ghost of the original. And yet, I feel the need to support it for two reasons. The first is that I hope it finds its voice and becomes at least as good as the original. The second is that there is a need for shows like it on the air.
A show likes Skins is not.
The kids in Skins are written by and portrayed by kids their age. 16-18 year-olds. They're kids I could have known in high school. They're kids, your kids probably know. That's what makes them so scary. You watch them getting high and screwing their brains out and, as an adult, a little voice in your head SCREAMS that kids shouldn't be seeing this.
But you're wrong.
Because kids aren't just seeing it. They're DOING it.
Not all of them. Kids are as diverse and varied as crayons. I didn't experiment until I was out of HS, and I know people who have never tried drugs. I know some who tried them all in HS and are now as straight as arrows.
But shows like Skins along with books that provide honest, frank depictions of teenagers (books by the likes of Hannah Moskowitz and Andrew Smith and Ellen Hopkins) are essential. Pretending that kids don't do those things, or putting them in bubbles, doesn't actually protect them. In fact, I'd argue that it does more harm than good.
I'm not going to argue that the show doesn't glorify some things that shouldn't be glorified but that's what honesty is about. I know there's this idea that if you see a kid doing something they ought not be doing on TV that they should subsequently be punished in some way. But that's just not how life works.
The reality of Young Adulthood is that it's fucking messy. Kids are stupid. They do stupid things. They experiment with sex and drugs. They're absurdly reckless. Sometimes that leads down dark, terrible paths. But more often than not, those kids grow up and go on to be your real estate agent or tax preparer or your kids' teacher.
So before you condemn a show like Skins, watch it. Watch it WITH your kids no matter how uncomfortable it makes you. Talk about it. Understand that your kid and ALL the kids don't live in a PG world. You may not like shows like Skins, but your kids probably do. And if it helps them relate to their world, you should be for it too.