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The British Teen Drama Hidden Gem Series You Can Stream On Hulu

Not all hit British shows are about aristocrats in crumbling mansions, their army of servants, and their champagne (or high tea) problems. In 2007, a certain demographic of the British population became obsessed with a series about a group of teens whose lives were closer to Trainspotting than Downton Abbey.

Flashback to the mid-'00s — no frosted tips or low-rise jeans required. In America, teens were watching rich-kid drama play out in the mansions and townhouses of The O.C., One Tree Hill, and Gossip Girl. Sure, some bad stuff happened, but the glossy veneer of designer clothes, sports cars, and American dentistry made it all seem far-removed and unrealistic.

Meanwhile, the hot British teen drama of the era was undeniably Skins. The teenagers in this show were handed a litany of problems, including drug overdoses, anorexia, depression, self-harm, and parental abandonment. But in place of the California sunshine and New York glamour was, er, Bristol. The teens weren't rich or especially talented. They were heightened versions of people you might know.

If you missed Skins the first time, the good news is that it's back on Hulu. Here's why it may be worth watching.

Skins was a massive success in the UK

For at least its first few seasons, Skins managed to be massively popular while maintaining a cult feel. Its grittiness made it subversive compared to, say The O.C., and adult compared to British gross-out teen comedy series The Inbetweeners. (If you know that show, you also know why Sherlock Holmes from The Irregulars looks so familiar.)

The people who watched Skins weren't total outsiders, but they likely weren't cool either. They probably owned a pair of slip-on Vans covered in handwritten song lyrics and cut their hair into a side fringe. The show didn't shy away from heavy issues, which made it seem edgy. In teen logic, that made the people who watched it feel edgy too, even when their lives were nothing like the ones on screen. 

As with anything involving TV teens behaving like, well, teenagers, Skins provoked wringing of hands and cries of "Think of the children." And to be fair, even though Skins could never hope to recreate the gloss of American dramas if it wanted to, the show did glamorize some of the issues it sought to address. That's the risk you run when you take charismatic, good-looking teenagers and backdrop their lives with angsty soundtracks. But at the same time, openly addressing taboo topics like self-harm, eating disorders, and emotional abuse may have normalized talking about these topics in a positive way. Plus, it made for storylines you couldn't see anywhere else on teen-targeted TV.

You'll recognize a lot of the Skins cast

Skins wasn't just a big deal for its audience. Watch the series now and you'll be amazed how many members of the young cast have gone on to have major careers. (The adult cast was impressive too, including small roles for Peter Capaldi and Olivia Colman, among many others.)

When Skins started, the most famous cast member was Nicholas Hoult, a former child star thanks to his appearance opposite Hugh Grant in About a Boy when he was 12. His role as Tony made it very clear that the cute little kid was now in his teenage phase. Hoult has since gone on to star in, among other things, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Favourite, and Hulu's The Great. But animation fans may know him as Patrick from Crossing Swords.

Skins also kickstarted the careers of several other actors. Joe Dempsie, aka Gendry from Game of Thrones, starred in the first two seasons. Kaya Scodelario played fan-favorite Effy before going on to become Teresa From The Maze Runner and appearing in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. And It's a Sin/Skins fans may remember that Olly Alexander had a short, but memorable two-episode arc as a stalker.

Two members of the cast even have Oscar nods. Dev Patel left Skins after season 2, and his next project was a little movie called Slumdog Millionaire. (The Oscar nod was for Lion in 2017.) And Daniel Kaluuya — of Get Out and Judas and the Black Messiah fame — not only played a minor character, he also wrote for the show. So even if the idea of returning to an escalated version of teenage debauchery doesn't appeal, the chance to watch the early work of superstars might make Skins a must-see.