For all those who thought Tim Winter’s antics would serve as a better lead-in than Snooki for MTV’s original series Skins, you should have taken the Jersey Shore girl and the under. The way under.
Winters, the Parents Television Council president succeeded in stripping Skins of many of its top advertisers after its Jan. 17 premiere. And half its audience to boot.
The Jan. 24 installment attracted 1.6 million watchers, a 52% drop from the 3.3 million for its premiere the week before. More importantly, Monday night’s episode skidded among MTV’s core demo, dropping from a 3.4 rating and 2.7 million persons 12 to 34, the most ever for a series launch with MTV’s broad demo, to a 1.4, according to Nielsen data.
But the premiere benefited from a fresh episode of Jersey Shore, MTV’s top-rated original series ever, which drew 7.7 million who watched Snooki get arrested, after falling down drunk on the beach in Seaside Heights.
Featuring storylines about teen sex and drug and alcohol use, Skin’s subject matter was certain to titillate America’s oh so impressionable youth. Reports then began to surface that with the age of the actors, MTV might find itself rubbing up against childhood pornography laws.
Many believed that those elements in a moth to flame or Jon and Kate Gosselin kind of spectacle way, plus PTC’s protestations — it labeled the Americanized remake of the British series the “most dangerous” show for children in U.S. TV annals — would have more viewers peep in on the second episode of this show. Especially considering that Winter kept his group’s hype machine humming and the series in the news by getting Taco Bell, General Motors, Wrigley, H&R Block, Schick and L’Oreal to pull their ads from Skins. The advertisers confessed that Skins was no longer a righteous, er the right, place for their commercial messaging.
Well, for the studios/distributors behind No Strings Attached, The Mechanic, Just Go With It, Unknown, I Am Number Four, The Roommate, The Eagle, Sanctum, Drive Angry, The Rite and From Prada to Nada, energy drink Red Bull and pimple remedy Hot Spot, hawked by none other than Whitney Port of The Hills fame — all of which had spots in the Jan. 24 episode — their decisions would now seem to be as much about whether Skins can deliver enough audience to warrant future buys, as bearing PTC attacks should Winter’s group start warbling against them for supporting this MTV ode to teen turpitude.
Moreover, depending if the furor has died and the ratings decline further with it, MTV will have to wrangle about the show’s ultimate worth as well. But that call presumably won’t come before the network’s Feb. 3 New York upfront, whose e-invites include images of the actors, or the Jan. 31 episode, which could grab some prurient audience attention as a cast member is supposed to sport his drug-inspired member.
In the Viacom camp, the ratings’ masseuses noted that Skins’s 1.6 mark with the 12-to-34 set compared well with the second week of such scripted fare as HBO’s True Blood (1.6), The CW’s Gossip Girl (1.7), 90210 (1.5) and Vampire Diaries (1.5) and ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars (1.7)
They also pointed out that Skins beat its encored Jersey Shore lead-in by 33%, while improving MTV’s 2010 time slot (Mondays in the 10 p.m. hour) average of a 0.9 by 78%. Further, they said the second of episode of Skins built upon the network’s last scripted series The Hard Times of RJ Berger, which scored a 1.1 demo mark in its second week.
Still, the second episode of Skins had to prompt panting and preaching from more than a few parents and PTCers as it depicted lesbian Tea, via a series of quick-cuts, frolicking with a friend on the dance floor and later in her bedroom; taking a quick shot of a booze in the hallway at school; sharing a bottle of vodka with Tony on a playground merry-go-round; and pleasuring herself to a picture of Holly Golightly, before her nana interrupted matters by stepping into the wrong bed.
Oh, the kids these days. Then again, perhaps this show is already like so 2010 to them. Or maybe, after watching the pilot, they think Skins sucks and just didn’t bother to return.