Skins Recap: “Chris”

This is the infamous “kiddie porn” episode. It’s also another episode that is a veritable carbon copy of its UK counterpart, complete with opening sight gags related to pissing on Viagra and everything. Once you get past that baggage, though, it becomes a pretty well done episode about a kid who only knows how to be a kid living with a mother who is suffering with a mental illness.

Chris, the dimwitted hooligan wakes up to find that his mother has left him an envelope with $1000 and a note saying “Be gone a few days – be good!” He seems less than thrilled about it, but after some gentle persuasion from Tony, he decides that the best thing to do is throw an amazing party, which Chris invites his teacher to under the guide of a parent-teacher conference. She comes, but when she realizes that it’s not the best place to be, tries to leave. Chris persuades her to dance with him and she finally does leave when she gets put off by his erection (going on 14 hours).

Some of the gang expresses questions about where Chris’ mom went to, especially Daisy, who shares a sweet moment with him in the morning. When Chris needs to scrounge up a few more dollars for pizza, he goes upstairs to check in her room and finds… nothing. All the drawers and the wardrobe are empty. As this sinks in, Chris sits in the wardrobe, realizing that she’s not coming back. Stan tries to help Chris sell the stereo he bought for the party back, but since it’s got a Pop-Tart in the CD drive, they’re not buying. Sometime later (is it really only a day?), Chris wakes up to find his whole house graffitied and a homeless guy living in his tub. After trying to kick the guy out, Chris gets locked out of his house… naked. He walks to school where his friends supply him with clothes.

Daisy takes Chris to his dad’s house, where his stepmom is home and nervously welcomes them in. She asks how his mom is and if she “did another one of those things,” but Chris lies and says she’s fine, “getting better.” She shows off pictures of Chris as a baby, but Chris points out that that’s not him – it’s Peter, his brother. Chris’ dad comes home and is much less welcoming to Chris, prompting him to run away. Daisy follows him to a cemetery: he’s at his brother Peter’s grave. He tells Daisy a story about how great Peter was as an older brother and reveals that his mom is still around – she left flowers on his grave. He asks her not to tell the others about the “nonsense stuff.”

The episode ends with Chris going to his teacher, Tina’s, who agrees to let him stay there. Also in this episode, Tony (who is still fixated on Tea) is a complete douche to Michelle, which prompts her to show her breasts to Stan to get a complement on them, Cadie wants Stan to take her on a date and Tea shows her breasts to the gang.

While we don’t know exactly what’s happened with Chris’ mom, we get the impression that Chris’ brother died, he possibly had something to do with it, and that his potentially had a depressive or psychotic break afterwards. Many kids live with the spectre of parents who are fighting demons of their own and I’m glad that MTV didn’t shy away from this aspect of the storyline.  The young actors, especially Jesse Carere as Chris, really step up the plate with their performances, too. He conveys the understated expected blindsideness of the situation extremely well while never overacting.

While I hope Skins going into this plot more in the future, for those interested in more perspectives on living with mentally ill parents, please check out these great articles by Anonymous and Olivia Marudin.

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Crystal Coleman

Florida girl living on the west coast. During the day, I consult in social media and community management. I have a really cute puppy (Elphaba) and a British husband (I keep him for his accent) as well as an unhealthy relationship with parentheses.

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