Ryan Sheely, Jordan Stokes, and Matthew Wrather begin TFT Summer School by starting on British TV series Skins, covering Series 1, episodes 1 and 2, including: race, class, Britain and America; accents; Tony’s political style; art and audience; the moral responsibility of art; and (shock!) The Wire.
There will be no spoiler warnings and there will be many naughty words. If either of those things bothers you, don’t click!
→ Download TFT Episode 21 (MP3)
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Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea
Chester I. Barnard, The Functions of the Executive
Neil LaBute, The Shape of Things: The Play and The Movie
Zadie Smith, White Teeth: A Novel
Slate Magazine, My Dad Lives in a Downtown Hotel: The Subtle Brilliance of After School Specials
Harmony Korine: Kids, Gummo, and The Trash Humpers
Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs Du Mal
Karl Marx and Frederich Engels, The Communist Manifesto
Man, Communism, Accents and a show I’ve watched?! Downloading now…
I *did* man the fuck up, dude. Calm the fuck down. Ahem.
Sartre: A lifestyle choice, or a homework one. It’s a public school, but they may have more advanced classes than what we’re used to.
I guess Cheney was a *great* executive, then, yeah?
I lean more toward Tony’s maneuvering as political- why *shouldn’t* we believe him when he says he can’t be friends with a virgin? True, maybe nobody else cares, but he does, so even if it’s just in his head, he has a particular belief about sex and what’s necessary or proper- so he goes after Sid because Sid doesn’t fit the mold he feels gives himself the most powerful position.
I thought it was rather interesting how bored the first batch of “our” kids looked when they first entered the party. All of them looked a little overwhelmed by the house, but how each took it was a little different. Tony and his girlfriend threw caution out the window and started grinding, Sid remained awkward and uncomfortable the whole time, and Cassie had my favorite reaction. She seems in a slight reverie at first, taken aback by all of the beautiful stuff in the house, particularly the massive amounts of food. But the food is all wrong, so she fixes it, organizing and categorizing it all as is proper. Her reaction is subtle commentary on wealth: the upper classes have all of this stuff (food), but they don’t know how to manage it or take care of it, and they squander it, instead (by keeping it unorganized). But if you put it in the hands of a lower-class citizen (girl with eating disorder), they’d take excellent care of it (organization) because it’s more precious to them (in a kind of twisted way, yes).
I immediately thought of _Avatar_as a morally responsible and good show, but that’s probably more a *kid* show than teen one.
Re: Sartre – When it comes to teenagers reading Sartre in life, you are absolutely right. But for teenagers reading Sartre on TV…
Re: Tony being political – the only reason not to believe him is that he doesn’t actually drop Sid, or get upset when the plan goes south, or really do anything that makes it seem like he’s invested in the results. But it’s early in the series yet… you could well turn out to be right.
Re: Food, haves, have-nots – I too was really taken with Cass’s reaction, although my take on it was a bit more cynical. In my notes on the episode, I wrote something like “It is the business of the wealthy to eat food, the business of the poor is to arrange it.” It suddenly turns into one of those upstairs-downstairs dramas, with the posh kids living it up in the ballroom while the butler and the chambermaid (Sid and Cass) putter about in the kitchen.
Re: Avatar – since you call it a show, I assume you mean the one with airbending, which I’ve never seen. Is that worth watching? Should we be excited for the movie?
Oh, Avatar is an awesome little show, and I’ve been streaming it the past few days since first getting Netflix (ahem). I’d definitely say it’s worth watching, if as an adult you kept in mind it’s meant for young teens and older kids (the Y7 rating is spot on). But it’s not like it’s boring for an adult, either, nor that the only thing keeping it from seeming totally juvenile is the magic and battle scenes. It has some great storytelling and character development going on for it, and the supporting/guest characters that show up are almost always interesting and believable.
I’m excited for the movie for myriad reasons, but if nothing else, I’d say non-fans of the show should be interested in it because it’s such a different kind of project for Shymalan as opposed to his previous works. This is a movie with a lot of emphasis on special effects (and that fits with the show, btw- literally creating tornadoes and rockslides and shooting fireballs happens all the time), and it’s based around a story he didn’t come up with himself. Knowing he *can* tell a good story (even if he hasn’t always) and seeing how he tells this one will be a neat exercise in observation and analysis, I’m sure.
Hey team, I listened to this and was marginally frustrated to be out of the country so I couldn’t reply, but if you have equal confusion about British issues, I’ve been dreaming of, like Lady Penelope in Thunderbirds, being an occasional British agent for the OTI team (hey, dream big, huh?). Key points are voices and vocab choice are key for showing class – esp. as the Posh kids go to the Cathedral School which marks their families as having say £10,000 a year for education, which gains them a lot of (deserved? I’m biased) attention. I watched this when the characters were my exact contemporaries, it was agreed by everyone I knew that no-one was really like this – it was at best an exaggeration, and at worst a fabrication. Supplementarily, it is widely considered that very different E4/Channel 4 show The Inbetweeners is the dorky more accurate representation of Sixth Former life. Though, telling my brother this today, he claims the new Oxford Uni slang is to call a party ‘a Skins party’ when it becomes especially wild.
@Timothy – we are always, always looking for quality guest posts, and if they happen to have a unique cultural slant (such as, although not limited to, Britishness), so much the better. Work something up and send it in! We look forward to reading it.
In terms of Skins being unrealistic – is it a “no one lives like this, but they’re dealing with issues I can still relate to” thing, or a “this show is an escapist journey into a fictional culture and only relates to my actual life allegorically, sort of like Star Trek with Strongbow and Viagra in the place of forehead ridges and warp drives?”
Well, I feel a little less dumb now, because I constantly find myself shrieking in my head, “Oh, come *on*, who would actually *do* that?” while watching. So I do think it’s interesting to wonder what kind of un-reality they’re going for. I think it’s more like the former in your suggestions, Stokes, but I base that more on minor characters than main ones. The supporting characters come across more like charicatures, actually, especially ones with authority over the teens (teachers, parents). I wonder if maybe we’re getting reality as perceived by the teens- maybe Dad doesn’t really swear *that* much, maybe Mom and Dad don’t really have sex *that* often, but it *feels* like it to the teen observing, the teen we’re seeing things through.
@Stokes – well, I already did a Star Wars one, and have been thinking about (now I’ve finished my finals) doing one on Gerry Anderson and female empowerment…
@Gab – fantastic idea! Teens always see things with a heightened significance, and indeed that’s what I believe the film Brick is all about – not noir in a high school, but high school in film noir – i.e. that teenagers see cinematic scope in events we would not afford them… so thanks for showing me that Skins might just be that way too!