So, can we now officially call this experiment a failure? MTV's remake of the popular British series Skins — which as of now has only aired one episode — is already being told by network executives that it must tone down the racy content of the show. Why are they only getting around to this warning now, after several episodes are in the can and since that's kind of the point anyway? Oh, just because they're worried about running afoul of some child pornography laws! From the New York Times:
They are particularly concerned about the third episode of the series, which is to be broadcast Jan. 31. In an early version, a naked seventeen-year-old actor is shown from behind as he runs down a street. The actor, Jesse Carere, plays Chris, a high school student whose erection — assisted by erectile dysfunction pills — is a punch line throughout the episode…
Child pornography is defined by the United States as any visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. In some cases, “a picture of a naked child may constitute illegal child pornography if it is sufficiently sexually suggestive,” according to the Justice Department’s legal guidance. Anyone younger than eighteen is considered to be a minor.
The youngest cast member on “Skins” is fifteen.
Now, I am not a legal expert, so I don't want to get too into any sort of argument about whether or not MTV's concerns are ridiculous, or whether or not the show is actually breaking these laws, or if the laws aren't specific enough, etc. From where I sit, I can understand MTV executives' concerns based on the definition of "child pornography" in the US. On the other hand, I would assume that character's naked run through the street is being played for laughs and not meant to be super-hot. But, like I said — this is a thorny little matter and above my pay grade.
My real issue here is this: MTV, if you are going to do a remake of Skins, you need to do it right. We all know why the original Skins was popular; it was over-the-top and fun and a bit silly, and it showed teenagers the social lives they maybe wish they could have and adults the youth they maybe wish they could have had. (Not that I would actually want to be any of these characters, but some of those parties do look fun in an I'm-sixteen-years-old way.)
So if you expected issues of mature content to come into play, you should never have remade the series in the first place. Now you have a show that was already called a tepid imitation of the original and might still get you in legal trouble. In the end, the only one who loses is you, MTV.
Oh, and me. Because I watched that first episode.