Citation Berridge S (2013) Doing it for the kids?: The discursive construction of the teenager and teenage sexuality in E4’s Skins. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 10 (4), pp. 785-801. https://doi.org/10.3366/jbctv.2013.0175
Abstract The teen series is often regarded by television scholars as an inherently American genre. Indeed, the genre is marked by US constructs, such as the cheerleader, jock, homecoming dance and prom and, in turn, teen television scholarship has focused almost exclusively on US texts. However, more recent years have seen the emergence of British teen drama series, most notably Skins (E4, 2007-), which has been so successful that it has spawned an (albeit short-lived) US version which aired on MTV. In an attempt to redress the dearth of academic study of British teen dramas, this article explores Skins in more detail. Journalistic discourse on the programme has frequently emphasised the series' nihilism in contrast to the didacticism that characterises its US generic counterparts, which the series' creators justify by claims for its authenticity. This article moves beyond the authentic/inauthentic debate to explore instead the discursive construction of the teenager and teenage sexuality in the specific context of broadcasting in the UK. Thus, after situating Skins in relation to the history of youth programming in Britain and, specifically, on Channel 4, the article will explore issue-led storylines involving teenage sexuality in more detail. It will argue that despite the programme's nihilistic ethos, Skins is underpinned by more conservative ideologies, particularly regarding the depiction of gender and sexuality. In turn, this ambivalence makes it difficult to discern the programme's ideological stance on sexual issues.
Keywords Britain; Channel 4; representation; sexuality; teen drama; teenager; television
Journal Journal of British Cinema and Television: Volume 10, Issue 4