Oh, Skins. It's truly a love/hate relationship. I jumped on the Skins bandwagon when I was about 16 years old. I was genuinely interested in the concept: a teen drama set in the U.K. with awesome music and cinematography. Oh, and the fact that the U.K. has much less censorship compared to our American shows (which I still appreciate, thank you E4!). But with most things, the Skins fandom got out of control via Tumblr. Cassie in particular became part of an aesthetic in the eating disorder community, even though her character was a bit more multifaceted than perceived, at least towards the end of the series. In my last year of high school, I could tell who had and who hadn't seen Skins, because those who had were trying to replicate their lives like they were starring in the show themselves. "Oh, wow" actually started popping up in conversations. Barfaroni, right?
Skins had become cult-ish, but it seemed like people only skimmed over the series' intent.
What I liked about Skins as a series is that it focused on the complex issues that some teens go through. Seeing Effy transition from season to season was probably one of the best bridges built by television as a whole. Yes, the characters are romanticized and flawed, but they made the show what it is. We saw the destruction of the characters and we felt their pain. But with the glamorization by the fandom, I was worried about the three follow up episodes Jamie Brittain planned on releasing after the finale of the show.
Today, I'm talking about Skins "Pure" (Cassie's episode). Let me be clear, I am not a Cassie fan. I never latched on to her character, in fact, I thought the writers really watered her down (cue in the Manic Pixie Dream Girl discussion). In the first season, she was the ditsy comedic relief, making sexual innuendos and exuding her "airiness" that everyone loved. She later turned out to be manipulative, selfish, and just plain mean. But that was when I started to respect the writers more, because they gave her depth and highlighted what eating disorders and mental illnesses can do to people. What I really disliked was the glamorization of Cassie in general.
Skins "Pure" is soft. We see Cassie without her ditziness. We hardly even see her smile. She is grown and hardened. With the passing of her mother, we see her step up and put her alcoholic father in place. We see her as a nurturing figure to her brother, instead of a destructive and manipulative friend who flee's to New York.
What I liked most about "Pure" wasn't actually Cassie per say, it was Olly Alexander's performance who plays Jakob. In him, we see a mirror image of the former Cassie. He, like she was, is manic and living in his own world. Most people were ranting about how creepy it was that he was stalking her, and ranting even more about how she befriended him after finding out. If you are viewing them as relatively normal people, then yes, that is freaky. But this episode was about voyeurism and mania, at least in my eyes. Cassie and Jakob shared a manic love that ended (like most do) horribly. Cassie for the first time sees the destruction that someone else has caused instead of her.
"Don't spoil it Jakob, we have to remember the good times"
Jakob is the manic (pixie) dream boy that we all fall in love with, as much as we shouldn't. He is shy, introverted, a bit off, but also controlling. He is Tate Langdon from American Horror Story. He is Billy from Buffalo '66. He loves her so much that he doesn't even realize the pain he is causing (Cassie and Sid relationship, remember?). If anything, this episode was about Cassie's struggle of facing her past illnesses and demons, while still trying to get by in a world that wants so much of her.
I surprisingly really identify with these issues. Being a film lover, voyeurism and manic behavior goes hand in hand - or at least is more digestible to us. If I hadn't been so conditioned to it, I probably would have dismissed this episode like so many others. But I think the writers did such a great job of revisiting a character, and not dismissing her past like they did in Effy's "Fire" episode. Overall, I'd recommend it to those who love Cassie as well as those who hate her, you might find something worthwhile in it.
Keep it Cool,