In My Skin

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
In My Skin TV Poster Image
Welsh teen's coming-of-age tale is stunning and edgy.

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Positive Messages

Significant themes of compassion, empathy, courage arise as a young woman learns how to live a more authentic life and accept herself and others. The drama rewards perseverance and self-control as well. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bethan is a flawed character who learns to be more honest about herself and make more genuine connections with others. Lydia is reckless but also courageous and sensitive, while Travis is thoughtful, also always ready for a laugh. Poppy is a less well-drawn character who comes off as a bit of a stereotype. Bethan's mother's mental illness is presented thoughtfully, realistically. Some characters tell jokes that demean people with a larger body type and women; classmates are frequently very rude and insulting to each other. 

Violence

Violence is infrequent but characters sometimes threaten each other, like when an unbalanced store owner threatens to hit Bethan with a tennis racket because she's a "teen turd" who wants to steal from her. Bethan harbors anger against her dad and says she wants to stab him, but all she does is think about it.

Sex

Sexual content is often in the form of graphic talk, like when Travis tells a vulgar story about a girl who "f--ked" a "frozen sausage" and had it "snap off inside her." Bethan also tells a story about a classmate who discovers that her "dad had a wardrobe full of porno mags."

Language

Language is frequent: "f--k," "c--t," "s--t," "d--k," "bitch." Teens and even teachers talk very rudely to each other, calling each other things like "loser," "ape," "ugly," and "dykey."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Students drink whenever they can sneak alcohol, including a scene in which friends pass around a bottle of beer and then share benzodiazepine tablets, after which one of them vomits (Bethan palms her share, reasoning that "drugs are for mugs" and she doesn't want to be like her substance-abusing father). Teens have hangovers after drinking too much at a gathering, and they make mistakes when drunk. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that In My Skin is a British-made drama about a Welsh teen who makes up stories to cover up her depressing life. Though Bethan is a flawed character, over the course of the drama she learns to accept herself and others more, and to make and maintain more authentic connections with others. The show presents significant messages of empathy, compassion, and courage, as well as perseverance and self-control, particularly when dealing with mental illness. Bethan and her classmates curse frequently ( "f--k," "c--t," "s--t," "d--k," "bitch") and insult each other rudely, calling each other names like "loser," "ugly," and "dykey." They also relate sexual stories, like a bit of gossip about a classmate who supposedly masturbated with a sausage. Teens drink and share psychoactive pills, but Bethan only pretends to take them. One character vomits on-screen after indulging; others have hangovers after drinking and regret the things they did while drinking. Violence mostly takes the form of not-really-serious threats, like when Bethan talks about how she'd like to stab her unreliable father, and a shop owner threatens to hit Bethan with a tennis racket for stealing. Mental illness is presented realistically, as is the plight of a young person who must care for an older relative. 

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What's the story?

IN MY SKIN stars Gabrielle Creevy as 16-year-old Bethan Gwyndaf, a Welsh high schooler who attempts to pass as posh despite her tumultuous hand-to-mouth background. When a popular classmate is impressed by a poem Bethan wrote, Bethan hopes to make a new friend that will catapult her into the rarefied realms of her school's coolest kids. But will Bethan's wistful lies give her away, and come between those who love her just as she is? 

Is it any good?

Gabrielle Creevy is sensational and sad in this tale of a Welsh teen who spin fabulous lies about her bummer of a life, and makes you wish everything she said were true. When we meet Bethan in In My Skin, she's sassing her English teacher, who pooh-poohs Bethan's poem about airy-fairy love and a metaphorical seagull, explaining that what she's looking for is truth, and grit. But Bethan is unwilling to illuminate the real dark corners of her life, and as we get to know her better, we can see why. Her mom struggles with bipolar disorder; her dad is a substance abuser who hangs out on street corners with louts and every morning spits night-before phlegm into the sink until, Bethan tells us in a fierce voice-over, she wants to stab him. To death. 

At least at school Bethan has her two BFFs, quixotic and reckless Lydia (Poppy Lee Friar) and sweet, reliable Travis (James Wilbraham), neither of whom have any idea of Bethan's real home life, and are satisfied with their friend's excuses about why they can't come over after school. But when school queen Poppy (Zadeiah Campbell-Davies) takes an interest in Bethan, and Bethan convinces her that she's a fellow rich girl with a charmed life, viewers will get the sinking feeling that Bethan's house of cards has an expiration date. Thankfully, this British coming-of-age tale doesn't take any of its characters lightly, and Bethan is offered an unusually heroic path to right her past wrongs and forge more authentic relationships with the people in her life -- and you'll want to see it through with her. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether it's OK to show teen sexdrinking, and drug use on television. Do shows like this present a realistic view of teen life, or is anything exaggerated for entertainment? What would the real-life consequences of the characters' behavior be?

  • Aside from the accent, what sets British series apart from their American counterparts? Why is some content (swearing, nudity, smoking) more accepted in other countries?

  • Families can also talk about mental health. Does this show address it differently from other shows you've seen? How? 

  • How do the characters in In My Skin demonstrate compassionempathy, and courage? What about perseverance and self-control? Why are these important character strengths?

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