'Skins': Cancellation 'Not Much of a Surprise' to Parents Television Council

MTV Skins - Episode 2 TV Still - 2011
Courtesy of MTV Networks

The Parents Television Council hailed MTV’s decision Thursday to cancel its racy teen drama Skins, noting that the series is an example of how controversy doesn’t always deliver an audience.

“It’s not always true that controversy simply draws an audience,” PTC director of corporate and government affairs Dan Isett told The Hollywood Reporter. “MTV’s decision to cancel Skins is not much of a surprise.”

The scripted series, adapted from the U.K. show of the same name, featured underage kids using drugs, drinking alcohol and having sex. Executives at MTV parent Viacom ordered producers of the TV-MA-rated series to tone it down the series’ content in January ahead of its premiere as they worried about violating child pornography laws.

Isett noted that virtually every episode in the series, which the PTC in January called “the most dangerous show for teens,” had something that parents and families were going to be “deeply concerned” about.

“We’re pleased that MTV has made a responsible decision,” Isett said. “That’s not something you can always say about MTV. These are things that could be avoidable if companies like MTV didn’t insist on pushing the envelope and took the concerns of parents and families seriously before they began production on such a thing.”

Advertisers including Taco Bell, General Motors and Wrigley gum pulled out of the series -- which the network officially canceled Thursday -- because of its controversial content. The series had staggered in the ratings after premiering strong following a fresh episode of Jersey Shore.

"Skins is a global television phenomenon that, unfortunately, didn’t connect with a U.S. audience as much as we had hoped,” MTV said in a statement Thursday. “We admire the work that the series’ creator Bryan Elsley did in adapting the show for MTV, and appreciate the core audience that embraced it."

Added Isett: “We’re certainly hopeful that this will be a message for future producers that there are some lines that shouldn’t be crossed.”

Skins represented MTV’s biggest push into scripted programming and was heavily marketed. Isett noted he was cautiously optimistic about MTV’s recent foray into scripted series with Teen Wolf. “They certainly got off to a bad start,” he said of Skins. “We’ll see what happens with Teen Wolf.”

“I think that MTV has long been the clichéd bad actor on television,” Isett noted. “It’s certainly the station that parents are concerned most about because it naturally appeals to kids and teenagers. They can produce quality material if they wanted to. The question is: Are they going want to and learn a lesson from Skins moving forward or are they going to put the same type of content in a different package and sell it differently?”

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com.