Quicklet on Skins: Season 1 (British)

by Elspeth Michaels

What's in the book?

Quicklets: Your reading sidekick!

    • Season 1 Summary
    • Episode-by-Episode Synopsis
    • Character List
    • Key Terms and Definitions
    • Major Themes and Symbols
    • Interesting Related Facts
    • Additional Reading



Skins, a British teen dramedy set in Bristol, England, chronicles the lives of a core group of friends at Roundview College. Often heralded as the best, the original ensemble is an eclectic bunch, transcending Breakfast Club stereotypes, and even the rigid clique systems of high school. Named after the slang for rolling paper, the show heavily features the pursuit and use of drugs. From the beginning, the series has incited a lot of controversy through its depiction of teen sexuality, mental illness, underage drinking and drug use. The term “Skins Party,” was coined shortly after the show’s debut, referring to the phenomenon of out-of-control parties in the U.K. and France, inspired by the show’s portrayals of reckless behavior and cheap, sexy fun. (Seriously, where are the parents?!) While partying, drugs and sex are central themes to the series, the show strives to stay true to the issues that many of its young viewers face. To the critics who have accused the show of being too exaggerated or sensational, creator Bryan Elsley defends the series saying, “[Skins] tries to tell the truth. Sometimes that truth can be a little painful to adults and parents.”[2] Written by young writers and told from the perspective of teenagers, the series has found a niche in the zeitgeist of British youth culture. Although it arguably glamorizes sex and drugs and promotes excessive partying, Skins has been used in anti-drug campaigns and helped many teens broach difficult subjects with teachers and parents.


After graduating with a degree in art history from the University of Chicago, Elspeth taught English in Saga, Japan, a rural prefecture famous for two things—mudskippers and an International Hot-Air Balloon Fiesta. She loves to travel, and writing about her misadventures has always been a passion for her. Relatively new to San Francisco, she frequents karaoke bars, trains for races, and explores the city like a flaneur, minus the top hat (not that she has anything against them). She has a lot of pretentious-sounding hobbies, like analog photography and ranking the best sushi-speriences of her life, but is genuine in her interests. Last year, she published an article about her teaching experiences in Eureka, a journal for English teachers in Japan, and won a Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award for a song she co-wrote. You can and should follow her on Twitter @WhereEls.


The scenes where Tony is an academic context parallel his interests in manipulating and controlling others.

In Episode 5, he helps Sid with his history report, typing this opening sentence: “The USSR model could be described as a model of control and manipulation…”  The model in which he establishes his friendships could also be described as such.

In Episode 7, his presentation in Psychology class is called “The Role of Sex in Power Relationships,” an intended jab to an already wounded Michelle. He reads, “Power is the single most important force in the universe. Money and good looks mean nothing except for the power they give us. The second most important is sex. So sex, plus power, equals fun.” Relationships are a game to Tony, and his end goal is to sustain his own fun and interest.

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