Skins (2007-2013) was one of the most successful UK youth television dramas of all time. Created by father-and-son team Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain, its interwoven narratives focused on the lives of a group of 16-18-year olds attending a sixth form college in Bristol, in the west of England. This essay presents an analysis of Skins in the light of broader questions about ‘youth television’ – and in particular, the issue of authenticity. I explore how the programme claims to speak on behalf of youth, and how the youth audience is addressed and defined. I examine Skins’ claim to realism, and how this sits alongside elements of comedy and melodrama. I also look at how the producers attempted to draw in youthful audiences, especially through the use of social media. Ultimately, I argue that achieving authenticity in youth television is a precarious and challenging business – and perhaps ultimately impossible.
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