Show Tracker

What you're watching

« Previous Post | Show Tracker Home | Next Post »

'Skins' recap: Home alone

February 1, 2011 |  7:00 am

Chris skins
It seems fitting that the hardest partying character on "Skins" should be at the center of the show's biggest controversy to date. Over a week ago, the New York Times cited an anonymous source who claimed MTV executives were panicking over scenes on the show that they feared violated child pornography laws. The particular moment that supposedly caused the most worry wasn't a steamy girl-on-girl sex scene -- it was a brief shot in this week's episode that showed Chris (played by 17-year-old Jesse Carere) running down the street, naked from the back, having been locked out of his house by a squatter.

Someone must have determined that showing Carere's backside does not, in fact, constitute child pornography, because it certainly wasn't edited out of the episode. As far as I'm concerned, this was the right decision. Amid all the hysteria over the way "Skins" sexualizes its teenage cast, the flap surrounding this "American Pie"-like moment seems particularly misguided. Although he also spends much of his screen time in this episode sporting an erection induced by too many Viagra-style prescription pills, this week's protagonist never comes across as objectified. These antics aren't supposed to be sexy; they're clearly some combination of funny and desperate, just like Chris, the designated sad clown of the "Skins" gang.

Chris wakes up to two surprises at the beginning of the episode: the aforementioned erection and an envelope full of cash from his single mother. She's left him the princely sum of $1,000, with a scrawled note saying she's gone out of town for a few days.

Of course, the first thing Chris does is call the whole crew over. He seems a bit dejected, as though he suspects his mom's journey might not be so brief after all. But Tony pulls Chris out of his funk by suggesting he use the cash to throw the biggest, craziest party of all time. 

So, instead of thinking about what his mother's disappearance really means, Chris jumps into a role he's more comfortable with -- the gregarious host. The party he throws is a teenager's fantasy (and a parent's nightmare): loud music, beer and drugs are all in ample supply. Chris clothes himself in a pimped-out white suit and an American flag, tied cape-like around his shoulders. 

And yet, amid all the debauchery, what makes Chris' night is the arrival of Tina, the young teacher he has a crush on. He's lured her to his house by telling her his mom wants to talk over dinner. Although she's angry at first, Tina seems to genuinely like (or, at least, be genuinely confused about her feelings for) Chris, and she lets him convince her to stay. They dance, until she notices the situation in his pants and runs out, disgusted. 

Meanwhile, the love pentagon comprising Cadie, Stanley, Michelle, Tony and Tea only grows more complicated at the party. Stanley tries to talk up a very drunk girl, who vomits on him. Tony tries to get a moment alone with Tea, but she sidesteps him. And, as Tony and Michelle are about to get into bed together in Chris' bedroom, just after Tony has started in on Michelle again about how one of her breasts is bigger than the other, Stanley walks in and Michelle asks for his opinion on her boobs. Later, as Cadie lies across his lap on the couch, Stanley frets out loud over whether he said the wrong thing to Michelle.

Everything looks bleaker in the hungover morning. Chris can only ignore his predicament for so long. Daisy asks him, "Where's your mom, Chris?" and he replies, "No idea, man." He orders pizza and realizes he spent so much money on the party that he can't even afford to pay for it. Then, he finally brings himself to enter his mother's bedroom, where he finds she's taken all of her belongings.

He and Stanley set about trying to raise some money: In a moment of much-needed comic relief, they try to return the sound system Chris bought for the party, only to encounter a nerdy clerk who points out that there is a toaster pastry in the CD tray. The only option is to bring it to Chris' crude, middle-aged drug dealer, who works at the junkyard. He won't buy the stereo either, but he does offer to trade some mysterious, psychedelic pills for their wheelbarrow. 

Once again, Chris attempts to trip the pain away. But when he wakes up and tries to take a shower, he finds a stranger sleeping in his tub. Chris tries to evict the squatter from his graffiti-filled home, only to find that his new "roommate" has locked him out. And this is where we cut to the infamous walking-naked-down-the-street shot. With nowhere else to turn, he goes to school, where Tina gives him a towel, and his friends quickly arrive with clothing to help Chris assemble an ill-fitting outfit. 

It comes out that Chris does have a father who lives nearby, but the family he and Daisy encounter when they go to his house is heartbreaking. Chris' stepmother looks like a housewife straight out of the '50s, complete with rubber cleaning gloves. She is surprised to see him, to say the least. "How's your mom?" she asks, and while Daisy looks at him expectantly, Chris only replies, "She's getting better." Their rough history, we realize, goes back much further than these last few days.

But Chris' stepmother is a saint compared to his father, who won't even come out to see him. "I don't care!" we hear his dad screaming as she beseeches him to acknowledge his son's presence. Hearing their argument, Chris can't take it anymore and runs away, with Daisy hot on his heels.

In the graveyard, they smoke a joint in front of his older brother Peter's grave. Chris tells Daisy about the time he peed his pants at Boy Scouts and Peter cleaned him up, kissed him and gave him his pants. "Best day of my life," Chris says. We don't find out why Peter died at only 13 years old (according to his headstone), but Chris does know that the fresh flowers at the grave site mean his mom can't be far away.

The episode ends on a bittersweet note, after Chris watches his friends -- who suddenly seem so much more innocent than him -- laugh and cuddle while he worries over what's going to become of him. It's Tina who finally takes him in, giving him a goldfish and a stuffed-animal-strewn girl's bedroom to sleep in. Although Chris seems back to his goofy self, experimentally popping a birth control pill he finds in her drawer and washing it down with goldfish water (ugh), Tina looks utterly tortured. Clearly both a surrogate mother figure and the object of Chris' affection, she must be deeply confused about -- and even scared of -- her feelings for him.

We've seen the hot-for-teacher story line on just about every teen drama from "Friday Night Lights" to "Gossip Girl." And it never seems to end well. Will "Skins" be any different?

Your weekly top five parental panic moments:

5. Tea flashes her breasts at her entire group of friends.

4. Chris dances with his teacher, Tina, while he's aroused.

3. Chris takes several erectile dysfunction pills and has a day-long erection.

2. Chris teaches an 8-year-old how to roll a joint.

1. Chris uses the $1,000 his mother left him to buy a bunch of booze and drugs and throws a wild party.

RELATED

'Skins' boss defends his racy show

Full Show Tracker coverage of "Skins"

-- Judy Berman

Photo: Jesse Carere as Chris. Credit: Jason Nocito

Comments 

Advertisement










Video