Skins ver 2.5 is now on the home stretch with the current line up all creeping up towards legal adulthood. But for now, Freddy and Effy’s luvvy duvvy happy couple funtime is under the microscope.
Freddy hasn’t really done much more than hang around in the background, looking confused and inducing comas to all around him this series. Sometimes he even makes sounds with his mouth which could be mistaken for words. At least that’s what I could pick up over my own yawning. He’s so blissfully content in his obliviousness that he even failed to react when Katie’s head landed up in his lap last week. Even his naked backside is flat.
Whereas Effy has always been portrayed as the cool, enigmatic aloof one throughout. A girl who’s so mysterious, the reasons for her mysterious facade are a mystery even to her. Unlike Freddy, she manages to get fully formed sentences out of her mouth. The kind of sentences that are supposed to sound clever and insightful instead of tedious and irrelevant. When WAG-wannabe Katie Fitch can sum you up as “such a fucking cliché”, you really should think about adopting a new persona.
Throughout this series, they’ve both been relegated to the background after hogging up so much screen time in series 3. After pretending she didn’t exist in episode 1, Freddy is now so wrapped in his world of Effy that he doesn’t see anything else anymore. They drink, take drugs and shag with aplomb all in the style of a chaste porn vid. Which turns out to be a bit of a problem when you’re in the middle of your A levels. His dad (played by the excellent Simon Day) isn’t best pleased and neither are his tutors! In comes anally retentive teacher T. Love to dish out some much needed tough love. When he’s not indulging in his creepy Michael Jackson fetish, that is.
But Freddy soon has a lot more on his mind when he returns to Effy’s pad and finds her acting a bit… odd. Happily cutting up newspapers and pasting them to her walls like a tribute to Se7en and ominously predicting her end as if she was in a scene from Heroes. Freddy turns to T. Love again for advice and gets no help at all. Considering the best he could articulate was “Things are fucked up, yeah?”, it’s no surprise, really. So, it’s up to him to do the research on Effy’s symptoms and it looks like Effy’s going through a manic episode.
He turns to his grandfather for advice and the big reveal about Freddy’s mother is she killed herself after going through manic depression herself. So, it seems to be a bit of history repeating when, after rescuing Effy from a party she threw, she attempts suicide. And this episode closes with Effy in hospital and Freddy in bits over the future.
Luke Pasqualino finally raises his performance beyond repeating what he’d just read. But the biggest flaw is not only Kaya Scodelario’s one note performance but the depiction of Effy’s downward spiral itself. Perpetuating the ‘depression is sexy’ image itself is downright distasteful. It’s a neat, sanitised version of psychotic depression (manic depression just didn’t sound punchy enough, I guess).
What’s even more distasteful is how Josie Long’s college counsellor, a highlight of the first two series, has been written out as having a breakdown and it’s treated like a punchline. Yeah, only the pretty people have serious problems! In the structure of a continuing series such as this, Effy’s sudden fall into mental illness just doesn’t make any sense and seems to have come out of nowhere.
And also, would this series stop thinking that constant angsting about relationships constitutes drama? In my day, it was all cheap cider and fumbling in the park. This lot never actually seem to ever enjoy their youthful romance! It’s all gotten to be more than a bit… depressing.
Check out our review of episode 4 here.