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British TV Blog

'Skins': Is this week's episode the most violent ever?

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Skins, Franky, Luke (Joe Cole)

© Channel 4

Skins has always been a controversial show. It's hard to remember these days, but the series provoked endless headlines with its sex and drugs when it hit our screens back in 2007.

Remember all those sudden stories about "Skins parties", when really teenagers across the country had been holding noisy, alcohol-fuelled bashes while their parents were away on holiday since time immemorial?

Since the premiere, all kinds of issues have been touched on in the show - mental illness, eating disorders, sexuality, brain tumours. And we've also had some violence, with, for example, Effy's drug-fuelled attack on Katie.

We even had some pretty shocking brutality with Freddie's death-by-baseball-bat in series four, though that was at least largely kept off-screen (and in our imaginations). Whereas in this week's episode, 'Franky', things get very aggressive indeed.

Skins, Franky, Nick

© Channel 4



Briefly, the episode focuses on what happens when Franky (Dakota Blue Richards), wracked with grief and guilt over the death of her friend Grace (Jess Sula), turns to a rather unsuitable young man for comfort.

This isn't a new storyline - unsuitable young men have been linchpins of drama, and especially teen drama, for years. But what Franky is searching for is someone without limits, and Luke - played by the wonderful Joe Cole - is the person for her.

Perhaps what's most shocking about the episode, which features graphic, bloody Fight Club-style moments, is the fact that the violence isn't outright condemned. As part of the context of the instalment, it's clear that Franky's got herself into an awful situation, but there's a sense of exhilaration, thrill and excitement about the beatings.


What's more is that the violence isn't confined to a brawl in a car park. In fact, there's an aggressive undercurrent running throughout the episode, and one scene in particular - without giving anything away - is incredibly uncomfortable to watch.

That's not necessarily a bad thing; Skins has established a reputation for itself by taking risks and ignoring taboos. In fact, I'm impressed that the show's been brave enough to create an episode of television like this, with simmering tensions and explosions of anger.

Even Franky's fledgling relationship with Luke - her apparent inability to escape from his dangerous clutches - is something of a risk. The show obviously doesn't hold this up as the idea of a perfect romance, but to have a teenage girl involved in such a severely dysfunctional relationship is surely pretty courageous stuff.

Admittedly, when I first watched the episode it didn't really occur to me just how shocking it really is - I suppose we're a bit desensitised to the world of Skins. But really, it's quite a surprising hour of television - let us know if you agree when the episode airs tomorrow night!

Skins airs on Monday at 10pm on E4.

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