"Skins" may be MTV's new juggernaut but the network is not letting it loose creatively. The executives over at the music channel have commanded the producers to tone down an episode which is due to air on January 31 for fear that it may break child pornography laws.
Like in its British version, there will be a Chris-centric episode in which the actor behind the character is told to go butt-naked. Jesse Carere is shown from behind as he runs down the street with an erection resulting from erectile dysfunction pills. MTV is afraid that the show pushes it too far this time.
Child pornography in the United States prevents any visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. In other words, "a picture of a naked child may constitute illegal child pornography if it is sufficiently sexually suggestive". Now Carere is 17-year-old, meaning he is one year away from graduating as a minor. The youngest cast member on the show is 15.
MTV refuses to give a comment on this, saying it's a progressive work. Spokeswoman, Jeannie Kedas, said to NY Times " 'Skins' is a show that addresses real-world issues confronting teens in a frank way. We review all of our shows and work with all of our producers on an ongoing basis to ensure our shows comply with laws and community standards. We are confident that the episodes of 'Skins' will not only comply with all applicable legal requirements, but also with our responsibilities to our viewers."
With drugs, sex, booze and high-school students as the theme, "Skins" is easily the target of criticism. Nevertheless, MTV has said that the show is "specifically designed to be viewed by adults" and accepted TV-MA rating which is good for people older than 17. The show is also not airing before 10/9c.
And what about the cast? Apparently, parents of the young actors are not concerned. Sofia Black-D'Elia, who plays Tea, said once, "For the most part, our parents are really just proud of us. So, maybe we do some crazy things on the show, maybe they're going to watch us take lots of fake drugs, but at the end of the day, they're also seeing us work our butts off, and do everything that we really wanted to do with this career. So far, my parents are personally so proud of me."
"Skins", which debuted to 3.3 million viewers, airs on Mondays.