Friday, 10 June 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #743: MTV No Longer Has Skins In The Game

MTV has canceled it's soft-core melodrama about hard core high schoolers Skins after its first season due to low ratings.

If you're like me, and the majority of North Americans, and didn't watch the show, here's a little precis for you. The series was an Americanized remake of a British show of the same name. Both series can be summed up as the cautionary melodrama of Degrassi cranked up to 11. Basically teens surrounded by a non-stop litany of sex, drugs, alcohol, abuse, mental illness, and any other social / sexual / psychological problem the writers can think of.

Now those who claim to be in the know are saying that America was too prudish to take the "truth" that the show dealt with, but I, as a know it all, have to differ. There were several reasons behind the show's failure.

1. Sex Doesn't Mean Sexy, & Doesn't Always Sell. TV executives are obsessed with the notion that "sex sells." If it ain't "sexy" they don't want to touch it. Yet they don't seem to realize that the audience is onto them, and now see attempts at being "sexy" as a sign that the show isn't going to deliver in the story department. Lord knows how many times I changed the channel on a pilot when they have the leads have some sort of "racy" sexual encounter in the first five minutes. It's the sign that the show was written for executives, but not the audience. I'm not the only one who does that, considering the amount of failed pilots every year.

Skins not only had that strike against it, but also the fact that not only was the show set among high schoolers, it starred high schoolers. Thus the hyper-sexual hype that surrounded the show salted it with a soupcon of pedophilia. The might as well called it "Jailbait Theater."

2. Teens Found Its "Realism" Boring. Teens took one look at the unending litany of melodrama, and the reports that this was "real" and said: "That ain't me." The majority of teens, despite what the panic prone media say, aren't screwing like rabbits while hopped up on a veritable pharmacopia of mind-bending substances, even if they wanted to. Instead, they're just trying to survive the usually petty, and un-melodramatic trials of high school life. Sure, the stuff on the show happens, but not to everyone.

Then add all the self-importance the producers and broadcasters couched with their "realism" and teens see the show as a lecture, not an entertainment. If they're going to see teens acting irresponsibly, they prefer to see 20 something, model pretty, faux teens do it in candy colored consumerist fantasy lands like
Glee or Gossip Girl.

3. It Served Its Purpose. The real reason for MTV to do the show was to get the MTV Brand out in the mainstream media. The surest way to do that would be to do a show guaranteed to get media's self-proclaimed watchdogs all hepped up. What better than a show full of sex and drugs starring real high schoolers? Well, one starring real elementary school kids, but the unions rules wouldn't let them do it.

MTV markets itself as TV's home for youthful rebellion and "edgy" entertainment. Only it's version of "edgy" is basically to do lots of cheap "reality" shows about unlikeable people with loads of product placement. Real edge could cost them sponsors, so they aim for faux edge, something just obnoxious enough to get them the publicity they crave. My favorite story about MTV was about a Canadian TV show about a group of foul mouthed pot dealers and petty thieves. MTV said that they loved everything about the show, and wanted to buy it, just get rid of the coarse language, the drugs, and the petty crimes.

The show in that story wouldn't have generated the artificial controversy / publicity they wanted, so they wanted it sanitized to the point of being a completely different show they can slather with product placements.

That's MTV, and those are the real reasons why Skins was doomed to fail.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if it is because I have gotten older but I do not even FIND MTV even watchable or even having a purpose on TV anymore.

    I am 35 and find there is better TV on NICK and DISNEY.

    MTV is pretty much trying to be edgy to teens while gasping for air in a much thinner cultural atmosphere.

    Here are some bullet points, about MTV's current problems.

    Bullet Point 1. It's not about teens anymore it about TWEENS. Disney has hit this nerve with High School Musical, Hannah Montana and the Jo Bros. We say this a few years ago when Russel Brand was going on about purity rings when he was hosting a show about music awards on Music Television where all the big music acts came from DISNEY.

    Bullet Point 2. Teens do not need MTV anymore when it comes to music videos. I remember when MTV was young in the 80's. If you wanted to see a new video you had to wait for the WORLD PREMIER on MTV. Now the hot acts of our decade premier their videos on YOUTUBE, Myspace VEVO or whatever. Then you can watch it over and over until your eyes bleed. Not wait for hours for MTV to decide to play your fav video.

    MTV is basically entered an era where they are both irrelevant and useless. Probably why they are getting Mike Judge to bring back Beavis and Butthead and took music your of their logo. Disney captured lghtng n a bottle with Miley, Selena, Demi and the Jonas Bros. All what MTV has is the Situtation and Snooki.