October, 2011
Issue 27.1:Occupy Apple
Posted: October 20, 2011

SLiDE: Basically Skins Lite with a Healthy Tan

Grace Rosen

The young and beautiful cast of SLiDE, the Australian Skins knock-off. From left: Scarlet, Ed, Luke, Eva, and Tammy

After MTV kindly put Skins (US) out of its misery, I found myself looking for a new teen dramedy to fill the hole left by my tragically stable teenage years. While stumbling around the internet, I saw a reference to a new Australian Skins knock off called SLiDE . Intrigued by its down-under exotic flair and Brenton Thwates' abs, I dove into the wild lives of five Brisbane teens.

The original British Skins set the standards for sexy, drugged up high school programming. It took Degrassi, My So-Called Life, and Freaks and Geeks, threw in some coke, condoms, and electronic music and coughed up a few near perfect seasons of television. Its "edgy" subject matter and amazing writing did not translate in the American version, which wound up looking stilted, amateurish, and a little pathetic.

As a huge fan of the original, though, I was willing to give this Australian version a try. After I got past the annoyingly stylized capitalization in the title, I proceeded to watch the first three episodes in one sitting.

Like Skins, SLiDE features an unlikely group of friends learning lessons and stirring up trouble in a second tier city while listening to music that you wish you'd discovered yourself. Unlike American shows of a similar genre (Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill), Skins and SLiDE use relatively unknown actors of an appropriate age. SLiDE stars Aussie soap star Brenton Thwaites and a bunch of slightly less attractive people. Thwaites plays the secretly sensitive pretty boy Luke with a messed up home life who somehow falls for the unpopular girl with curly hair. That girl, Tammy, is the sarcastic voice of reason in the room who is always accompanied by her horny, nerdy, boy-next-door best friend Ed.

Sounding a little familiar? That's because while SLiDE is really fun to watch, it is certainly nothing new. You've also got the spoiled rich slut Scarlet and the rebellious tough-girl Eva who sports pink hair and a devil-may-care attitude. Really groundbreaking stuff. Part of what made Skins amazing is that it really broke from these standards but perhaps SLiDE will get more complicated as the season goes on.

The stories are likewise fairly standard (broken homes, pregnancy scares, skipping school) but I keep watching. The characters are incredibly well written and Eva and Luke in particular are already breaking out of their stereotyped rolls. Unlike Skins (US), where the dialogue sounded a bunch of middle aged guys set google translate to "slang," SLiDE is much more subtle. With the exception of Scarlet, whose Australian Valley Girl affect is a little grating, they sound like people who I wouldn't hate to have a conversation with.

The other thing that really makes the show is the music. Skins (UK)'s blend of heartfelt indie and hard core house music was the perfect soundtrack for a rollercoaster of sex, drugs, and feelings. SL iDE 's soundtrack is almost as good, though is slightly less frenetic, sticking to a poppy middle ground that suits the less wild show.

If I'm being perfectly honest, another reason this show appeals to me is that I am a disgusting hipster when it comes to tv. I love being the one who knows a show before it hits the mainstream. Now that everyone watches Skins and Doctor Who, you have to go to Australia to find something no one else watches. This show isn't nearly the first imdb result when you search "slide" and it doesn't even have an image. Be still my beating heart.

Though the acting and edginess does not quite reach Skins (UK) levels, SLiDE is a delightful snack to tide me over until season 6 premieres in January.

SLiDE is available to US viewers through a number of illegal channels including streaming via sidereel.com and torrenting.