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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Before MTV's scandalous new series "Skins" premiered on Jan. 17, commercials teased audiences with clips of sex, drugs and crazily behaved teenagers - all factors that seemed to make its U.K. counterpart a hit.

And despite other U.S. Shows adapted from their British counterparts, the U.S. Version of "Skins" is more than a little similar to its predecessor. In fact, some parts are practically word-for-word, minus the British slang.

As the notes of Animal Collective's "My Girls" bubble in the background, the show's pilot, "Tony," opens. A girl, wearing enough smeared makeup to give Gene Simmons a run for his money, approaches her house in the early morning. Her brother Tony blares his music to distract their father so she can sneak back in.

While the situation proves to be comedic with an irate boxer-clad dad, the show began to disappoint shortly thereafter.

While the plot never deviates from the British version, the episode doesn't seem as believable. The Bristol kids attend college, or "sixth form," at 17, yet the American kids still attend high school. It makes sense that the British have more independence and a more lax schedule. But the reboot comes across as unbelievable, even in comparison with the likes of CW shows "Gossip Girl" and "One Tree Hill."

"Skins" is just one of many American adaptations of popular British programs. "The Office" for example, originated with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's BBC version.

Both of the first episodes include a stapler encased in yellow Jell-O. Although the characters and their basic situations are similar, the American version took the show and expanded.

Sure, Tim and Jim may fall in love with their respective receptionists, Dawn and Pam, but the stories on how they get there differ.

Hopefully Skins will follow a similar pattern and develop some flair of its own.

As Leslie Gornstein of E! Online points out, there are strategic reasons for remaking shows instead of just bringing them "across the pond." Cultural compatibility and creator's licensing fees make the notion to recreate tempting.

Another British program that got a U.S. makeover was "Coupling," which ran for four seasons. The American version quickly flopped, getting canceled after less than a season. Even though it was closely reproduced like "Skins," it received criticism for seeming like a "Friends" rip-off.

Although "Skins" has been under fire since its debut, some reviews have brought up positive aspects of the show, like in Todd VanDerWerff's article for The Onion's A.V. Club.

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"But something is so strong about the original concept and the original structure of Skins that it doesn't matter, even if you've seen the original series," VanDerWerff wrote.

However, UF graduate student Katie Smith, who tuned into last week's U.S. premiere, said the U.K. version was more shocking and included full-frontal nudity.

When she and friend Abigail O'Connell found out about the adaptation, they decided to start watching the original version on Netflix.

"It was just kind of disappointing, I guess," she said. "I guess I didn't like it as much because I had already seen the story before."

Smith said she does not plan on watching the U.S. version anymore but will continue to watch the U.K. version.

"You might as well watch the one that can go farther," she said.

"Skins" airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on MTV.

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