Images of sex, drugs, and drinking are definitely not a new or rare occurrence on television (think “Jersey Shore” or “Gossip Girl”) so what is it about MTV’s new show “Skins” that has so many people scandalized? According to the Parents Television Council the show actually crosses the line from racy entertainment to child pornography because many of the young actors are underage. The PTC has gone so far as to urge Congress and the Department of Justice to investigate MTV and its parent company Viacom saying, “We call upon your committees to immediately investigate Viacom and MTV for the production of this material. Furthermore, we urge you in the strongest possible terms to compel the attorney general to mount an investigation by the Department of Justice into whether the production of ‘Skins’ has violated federal law meant to protect minors from exploitation.”
While all of the buzz will probably cause more people to tune in (the first episode drew 3.3 million viewers, the majority of which were in the 12-34 year old age range), the controversy has advertisers running in the other direction. To date, Taco Bell, GM, Wrigley’s, and Subway have all withdrawn their ads from the show. MTV responded by saying that “We have an ongoing dialogue with our advertising partners about the best fit for them across our diverse lineup of shows. We know that not every show works for every advertiser. That said, we are confident that ‘Skins’ will continue to connect with the audience it was created for and that advertisers will take advantage of the opportunity to reach them.”
“Skins” is based on an award-winning British tv show and was adapted for an American audience. In a statement on MTV’s website, creator Bryan Elsley defended the show saying that it “is written from the perspective of teenagers” and “reflects their world view”. He also notes that “Skins” tries to tell the truth and that “Sometimes that truth can be a little painful to adults and parents.”
Time will tell if MTV decides to make any changes to upcoming episodes or stands firm against their critics. What do you think: are the show’s storylines accurate or sensationalized?