If you thought Skins Fire was going to bring us some closure to the lives of Effy, Naomi and Emily, you might be a bit disappointed.
Sure, the premiere of this seventh season of Skins picks up a couple of years where season four left off. Effy has left her demons – and memories of Cook and Freddie apparently – behind and is now working at a trading firm serving up coffee and sneaking smoke breaks with some new friends, namely Dom the infatuated and Jane the seriously plain.
But rather than bringing Effy’s story to a close, the series opens up new questions (no spoilers here) about this new tiger print knee-length dress-wearing twenty-something.
Not that it’s a bad thing. Skins has always had a penchant for portraying the grit of real life, and it’s only apt that this new season would do the same thing – how often do we get closure in life only for new wounds to open up?
Now that our favourite characters have hit twenty, Effy is no longer interested in drugs, sex and alcohol – not entirely anyway. She’s young, she’s ambitious and she wants in on trading millions of dollars worth of investments.
But underneath her new wardrobe, Effy Stonem is still the same – a girl who doesn’t give a fuck and does what she wants. And as always, she chooses to lose herself in a glitzy fantasy world rather than face the painful reality – even if her bestfriend is dying of cancer.
And as usual, there’s a price to pay for her hedonism. The last time, Freddie paid the ultimate price for her. This time, though, she pays her own price, in a different way, which displays a new maturity in the cat-eyed brunette, something we’d never have seen in her in the previous seasons.
It’s rather disconcerting to see the kids we once loved and cried with acting all mature against a corporate backdrop, but perhaps it was precisely the intention of creators Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain to juxtapose these rather damaged characters against the cold, clean-looking corporate world.
The result is a feeling of discomfort watching these characters in a new environment, which perhaps mirrors the discomfort they feel themselves.
Naomi, on the other hand, is now a stand-up comedian hopeful and Effy’s one link to her old life – the constant to compare against Effy’s fast changing life.
The blonde hair we know from season three and four is replaced with a dirty brown and she is basically the same as she was before when she was on the cusp of losing Emily – smoking pot, drinking copious amounts of booze and being a bit of an idiot. Emily is still around, though, except working in New York City, which is perhaps the reason Naomi is a bit off again.
I was a bit surprised that Naomi’s life didn’t turn out well – I always thought Naomi would do best in life out of Generation 2, though, seeing that she usually had a firm head on her shoulders, did really well for her A’s and seemed a little more sane than the others. At least, when she wasn’t worried about losing Emily.
Episode one bordered on boring, I felt. Too much talking and focus on the mundane – we don’t want to know about the intricacies of how trading works and etc. We just want to see the characters getting down and dirty (not necessarily sexually), because, well, it’s skins and our main character is a magnet for the illegal.
Thankfully,the second episode fared a lot better, probably since all the boring plot build up bits were dealt with in the first.
The contrast between Effy’s sparkling trader’s life and her old drug-pilled one was more pronounced, and snippets of the old Effy began to emerge. There is the sex, of course, but instead of getting her high from drugs and alcohol, she’s getting it from watching her stocks climb and cash coming in.
And everything sort of makes sense. Of course, Effy would start an affair with her boss: it’s a very typical thing for the femme fatale in her to do. And of course, she’d find a fast track to making money – at the expense of a boy’s feelings at that. Like I said, our main character is a magnet for the illegal – and breaking boys’ hearts.
It was in episode two that the familiar rawness and grit of the old Skins really shone through. The sins were more typical of those in the working world but the issues no less real – and that’s precisely the heart and soul of Skins that made it so popular in the first place.
I thought it was great that the creators had kept Naomi around to bring some kind of balance to Effy’s story. And that they kept the typical Skins notion of how everything may seem fine and glittery and beautiful – but nothing comes easy in this world, and there is always hell to pay.
The introduction of Victoria, played by Lara Pulver (from Sherlock) was a nice touch as well. Made up to an uncanny resemblance to Effy, Victoria was essentially Effy’s future: they both were ambitious, intelligent, beautiful and determined. Which in a way brought a different sort of closure to Effy’s story – that Effy was looking at her own future, and may make the option of going that way or, if she so wished, another.
Of Skins Generations 1 and 2, I was most interested in how the lives of Cassie and Cook played out, so I’m a lot more excited for Skins Pure and Skins Rise. But I must say that Episode Two was a fantastic throwback into the world of Skins, and it was kind of emotional to see Effy, Naomi and Emily a bit older and dealing with more grown up issues, much as I am too :/
As usual, the series – or the story, rather – ends with a rather melancholic note. But this time, there is no sense of ambiguity and the last shot is a significant one: Effy’s smile – without a hint of her usual mystery.
Was it a good round-up to Effy’s life? I wasn’t entirely happy with the way it panned out – mostly because I felt a bit sad at the outcome and not because the story sucked (it didn’t) – but old fans might appreciate seeing how the characters fared in the adult world. We spent our teens with these kids, so entering adulthood with them seems rather fitting too.
Thanks for reading!