It’s 10 years today since the first Skins episode premiered
And it created totally unrealistic expectations of Bristol
Skins, the phenomenally successful E4 series of mid-noughties fame, turns 10 years old today, prompting dewy eyed tweets, insta posts and FB statuses from nostalgic millennials everywhere.
“Oh remember that episode where Jal moves in with Chris?” “That one in which Anwar comes to accept Maxxie’s sexuality?” “The god-awful final season in which the writers trashed their own legacy and steered it off a cliff?”
But although there were some brilliant moments of wit, drama, romance and comedy in the six year roller coaster, I will forever blame Skins for first raising, and then destroying, my expectations of what life in Bristol would be like.
I thought university here would be like the last days of Rome on speed, a heady mix of love, lust and LSD, with more highs and lows than Tony’s ecstasy trip in Season 2 Episode 1.
I thought wrong.
Turns out Bristol, lovely as it may be, was far more vanilla than the show implied.
Rather than freshers week being nothing but riotous house parties, massive raves and sessions at Uncle Keith’s pub, it was more of a jaegerbomb and Pam Pams affair, awkward conversation with strangers rather than teaming up with a bunch of randomers to trash the local warehouse.
The people here are nothing like as exotic, outrageous or sex crazed as the show made out. The cougar wife of the local headmaster sadly doesn’t perform an early morning strip tease at her window, nor do Eastern European students here whip their top offs and make out in the back of a moving car.
Posh Kenneth is sadly non existent – the rappers here are nowhere near as loveable and articulate- whilst the local drug dealers have far less impressive facial hair than the “Mad Twatter”.
Even the most trivial details depicted on the show are missing here. There’s no bacon butty van on College Green, casually serving pints at 9 in the morning.
All the UWE students and Banksy tourists make it near impossible to walk, let alone skateboard down Park Street. Meeting the love of your life in Brandon Hill Park is nowhere near as romantic as Sid and Cassie make it look to be, given the park’s magnetic attraction for lost tourists and muggers.
Some differences, I’ll admit are for the best.
Fortunately, the mental health services team here seem much less likely to batter their patient’s boyfriend to death with a baseball bat. Nor are you likely to run into Mackenzie Crook-esque villains tied up in S&M parlours.
Indecent exposure to a lecture hall a la Cook would probably land you in the hands of the local police, who in my experience are far more competent than the strawberry cornetto scoffing bicycled bobby shown in the third Season.
But overall, if you’re hoping to come to Bristol based on the back of this series, it’d be worth thinking again.
To put it simply, Skins is basically idealistic whilst Inbetweeners is closer to the actual reality.