Skins hits Germany. And fails horribly.

TV channel Fox started airing Skins on German TV recently. Skins, which was only available as download via BitTorrent or DVD import to Non-UK residents for a good while, became an insiders’ secret for gay teenagers all over the world but  the German perversion of dubbing foreign series turns it into a disaster.

Tony and Maxxie from Skins, season 1 | Photo via The Bats Nest

The BAFTA-winning teen drama that follows a group of teenagers in Bristol, South West England as they grow up is one of the most popular TV series in the United Kingdom and fans, as well as critics, appreciate its authenticity, humour and the sentimentality of puberty it shows. But the German version cut out too much of that. Not only is it hard to stand the desperate attempt to translate English youth slang into German which is moreover presented by bored, 40 year old voice actors but even the carefully selected original soundtrack of the series was replaced with mainstream soap trash.

Worst of all: In the original version Skins uses a loose but correct way of referring to homosexuality. In the German version ‘tho, the Gay character Maxxie sounds like the worst cliché of a nancy boy; and right in the first scene of the first episode Maxxie’s father is insulting him as a “little faggot” – nothing like that happens in the Original series. German TV has managed to turn a show that has a respectful approach to homosexuality into an amplifier of homophobic language and behaviour.[via]


34 thoughts on “Skins hits Germany. And fails horribly.”

  1. Ah, well the problem is often the translation. It happened to the best series from the states as well. Dexter and Californication were showed so late and badly promoted. And I do dare saying that some series are simply to smart for the average viewer that still prefers ‘hausmeister krause’. I hadn’t even notice that Skin was running in german TV at all. Again bad promotion. Also i refuse to watched dubbed version as they always suck.

    1. It’s on Pay TV, that might be the reason you didn’t notice.

      I prefer originals too, the only show I watch on German is House because all these medical terms are a bit over the top. And the dubbing is ok too.

      1. Oh, i hate the house dubbing as his voice doesn’t sound good compared to his original voice. I’m usually either ignoring medical or technical terms or look them up later.

        IT’S NOT LUPUS! ;)

      1. It means that they have done a good dubbing (maybe because it was broadcast on pay-tv…).

    1. Yeah, “just learn English” on a whim in order to watch a show. That’s not stupid at all.

  2. How come I missed that TV show? I hate dubbing myself and good it’s not popular here except for movies for kids. My english is not perfect and watching movies and TV series in original is one of way of learning it. I used to watch ER in original even if I couldn’t understand all the medical terms. Not to mention that all TV series are at least one year behind in airing than in USA and some would never be shown in here. So thanks for torrents I can watch them.

  3. Wow, it’s available in many countries through the usual channels: Aired on TV in France (Canal Plus), they have their own DVD edition in the U.S. I imported the first season DVD and soundtrack CD from the UK to make a gift, but I bought the second season U.S. DVD.

  4. It is a shame that Skins on German tv suffered at the hands of the dubbers. Maxie’s charachter was one of the first tv gay roles that was shown in a positive light rather than the usual negative stereotype role that we always have to put up with.
    Of course for European fans of the show it would be better to order the original english dvd’s. But dont get too excited about the last series (series 3). It was a let down, especially without the gorgeous Mitch Hewer in it. I abandoned it after two episodes. The new leading character is so over the top it just became annoying to watch.

  5. Skins is and has been available in the U.S. on the BBCA channel, about one year behind Britian, I’d have to agree that the new lead character is a bit unbelievable, however, as I understand it there was never an intention to keep the same characters for more then 2 years, makes more sense then having them go on after they get so old that they’re not believable, a good example of that was “That 70s Show” they had actors in their 30s playing high school students by the time that show finally got put out of it’s misery. It’s too bad that the German dubbing changed the relationship between Maxxie and his father, in the original his father supported him all the way except that he wanted him to stay and work in the familly business instead of going to London to persue a career as a dancer.

  6. Ygh… I hate dubbing. I don’t understand why the German TV insists on doing it, even though a lot of people have already indicated that they prefer the original version with subtitles. Not only is it highly annoying because it just sounds silly most of the times, it keeps people from learning better English too

    So yeah, I just download the English versions of stuff I want to see.

  7. So much for German efficiency. i wonder who is responsable for the translation side.
    The skins series is more than just stories it’s more like a art work.
    even in Australia we got the 1st and 2nd series on tv but have to wait for ever for the 3rd, so downloaded it insted, think they did a good job with the 3rd series..

  8. Skins was shown on Finnish TV more than a year ago. The two first seasons were also rerun before the third season, which I have not seen.

    It was quite popular here, among both gays and straights. We just mostly subtitle here, dubbing is too expensive. Dubbing is only done for kids’ shows.

  9. Good god. Skins is one of my favourite shows, as I’ve mentioned on my blog and to all the friends I’ve gotten addicted to it, mainly because it follows an entertaining and realistic story and handles homosexuality with class and care – icing on the cake is that the homosexual character is actually really hot and not a cliche gay – and to see it perverted by terrible translation and butchery is quite disturbing.

    By the way, the Skins DVDs are available in Canada, as my friend has both the first and second series discs.

      1. Ummm.. the last time I checked dubbing is rather expensive. How come it is done there if the customers do not want it? (or at least the the tv channels think that is wanted)

        1. Because it’s a huge market (Germany is the biggest country in Europe) so I guess they just assume it’s worth the money. And dubbing isn’t that expensive. Maybe a few thousand € per episode, That doesn’t really make a difference compared to the license fees you pay anyways as a TV station on one side and the money you earn with ads on the other.

  10. i feel so lucky 2 hav seen the original as soon as it first came out… btw, id recommend not watching series 3 guys

  11. It’s really sad to read his, specially the bit about Maxxie. His charachter in the series is so well formed, he’s gay and a teen and a friend and he laughs and sulks and does what we all do, being gay is part of what he is and thats the way it is for all of us. Shame adult TV execs never get that.
    Really like the site btw.
    Thanks for all the time you must invest into it.

  12. oh what a shame. I love Skins! Im only on season 2 though. I recommend that if you speak English, download it.

    Yeah nothing like that happened to Maxxie. At least not in the first season. The only bad thing that happened to him about his homosexuality was his best friend saying that it was “sick” or whatever.

  13. Sorry to say I find the original series utterly unwatchable. It’s trash imho. Watch Shameless instead, it’s a million times better, it’s run for 6 brilliant seasons, and if you want a sensitive portrayal of a gay teenager it has that too.

  14. TV is scared of real teenage life: what was shocking about Skins was how many taboos it broke to show the reality of education (what a joke), parties (brief awakenings from the nightmare), love, sex, power, death, and what they all feel like when you’re 16, in Bristol, now.

    I personally don’t think Maxxie is a very insightful portrayal of a gay character, at least not by Skins standards. Maxxie is a brilliant dancer, and he’s played by Mitch Hewer, a perfect twink: not a role model, but a tantalizing caricature of what most gay boys can never hope to be.

    Not only is he a dreamboy, but he has a surprisingly trouble-free life – the only sour notes are some homophobic chavs and minor parent trouble in Series 2 episode 1, but he takes these in his stride: he always knows who he is and what he wants, and the people who matter – his m8s – are with him 100% Unlike with other characters whose struggles we get to understand much better (think of Cassie or Chris, for example) we get no idea of how he reached this blissful state, it seems to have happened by magic. No sign of the traumas of coming out, or of being out and proud at high school (a far cry from being out at sixth form college, which is where we find Maxxie). Is it surprising that most people I know think of Maxxie as being pretty but bland?

  15. Personally, I love “Skins”, all three series that have been aired so far. There is no question that the first two with the original set of characters was the best one, but the third is also good.

    It makes a nice change, living in the UK, to have a show that we get before the rest of the world! It seems to me that it’s usually America that get the better shows and movies that we have to wait for!

    Anyway, my Uncle works in Bristol and in Television, and was part of the directing team for “Skins” series one, two, three, and is now finishing filming four. I spoke to him and he said that Channel 4 (who produce “Skins”) sell the episodes to other television stations world-wide, and the other stations are responsible for the dubbing. He also said, however, that there is a Channel 4 team that checks the dubbing done by other countries before they are allowed to air it.

  16. I live 20 minutes from Bristol in Gloucester and I have to give credit for how accurate the programme is. I don’t think the new characters are as good as the originals but still a good watch. I don’t think there’s a gay character in the new series but it does give an accurat representation of the youth of the West Country border.

    By the way, in Bristol at the moment the council are having a vote on street art if anyone is interested. If anyone’s familiar with the work of Banksy take a look and you can vote on which graffitti art in Bristol can stay and which ones are gonna be cleaned off. Great idea!

  17. Series III takes an interesting turn, but it may not be to everyone’s taste. One of the main characters has no boundaries, at all, so his behavior can be very bizarre. I guess you could call it experimental TV. So far I’ve found it very interesting.

  18. Much love for ‘Skins’ especially seasons 1 & 2. Love this shot of Mitch Hewer and Nicholas Hoult. Brilliant!!!

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