Racy 'Skins' prompts Parents Television Council to call for investigation

Fox's "American Idol" kicks off its tenth season with a nearly all-new lineup of judges, including Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and weekly mentor Jimmy Iovine.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 21, 2011

The Parents Television Council has fired off a letter calling upon the chairman of the U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committees, and the Department of Justice, to investigate whether MTV's new scripted series "Skins" is actually kiddie porn in sheep's clothing.

Some of the cast members in the sexy teen drama, which debuted Monday, are as young as 15 - and others are younger than 18, which is the danger age in child porn.

The Los Angeles-based TV watchdog group said in its letter that leaving aside the sexual content on the show, it counted 42 depictions of and references to drugs and alcohol in the 41-minute premiere episode, which has to be some kind of record.

Before the show even debuted, the PTC had already crowned "Skins" the "most dangerous program that has ever been foisted on your children," which has to have boosted the teen (a.k.a. 12-to-17-year-old viewers) ratings for the premiere by at least 5 percent.

MTV ran the premiere with a TV-MA content rating, meaning it's not suitable for viewers younger than 17, which has to have boosted its 12-to-24-year-old guy ratings by at least 4 percent.

A story in Thursday's New York Times detailed a meeting we wish we'd been invited to, in which MTV suits regaled themselves with speculation as to which of them could wind up in the hoosegow if future episodes aired as delivered to MTV by the producers, which is sure to boost teen-chick ratings by - oh wait, teen chicks don't read newspapers. Too bad.

The MTV suits seemed particularly exercised by Episode 3, set to air Jan. 31 - mark it on your calendar - in which a 17-year-old-in-real-life actor, playing a high school student who has taken a strong anti-clothing principle and simultaneously experimented with erectile dysfunction drugs, is seen running down a street; the sky's the limit on what that will do for the show's pre-teen numbers.

Is this what "Skins" executive producer Bryan Elsley meant in that letter he sent to TV critics last month noting that the show's young, unknown actors "are making the characters their own and demanding that their voices be heard"?

Taco Bell told the Hollywood Reporter on Thursday that "upon further review, we've decided that the show is not a fit for our brand and have moved our advertising to other MTV programming," which is so going to increase next week's young-guy ratings by about 2 percent.

Yes, Taco Bell: too classy for "Skins."

"On January 17, the Viacom-owned cable network MTV aired a teenager-based drama, 'Skins.' The episode included all manner of foul language, illegal drug use, illegal activity as well as thoroughly pervasive sexual content. Moreover, future episodes promise much more of the same," PTC said in a yeasty letter it claims to have "sent to Committee Chairmen Patrick Leahy and Lamar Smith" as well as "the rest of the Judiciary Committee members, Attorney General Eric Holder and Federal Communications Committee Chairman Julius Genachowski."

"It is clear," the PTC continued, "that Viacom has knowingly produced material that may well be in violation of any or all of the following federal statutes:

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2011 The Washington Post Company