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Posted at 5:51 PM ET, 01/20/2011

MTV's 'Skins': child porn or not child porn -- that is the question

By Lisa de Moraes

Cast of "Skins" on MTV. (MTV)


The Parents Television Council has fired off a letter calling upon the chairman of the U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committees, AND the Department of Justice to investigate whether MTV's new scripted series "Skins" is actually kiddie porn in sheep's clothing.

Some of the cast members in the sexy teen drama, which debuted Monday, are as young as 15 - and others are also under age 18 which is the magic age, in re child porn.

The Los Angeles-based TV watchdog group said in its letter that in addition to the sexual content on the show, it counted 42 depictions and references to drugs and alcohol in the 41-minute premiere episode, which has to be some kind of record.

Before the show even debuted, PTC had already crowned "Skins" the "most dangerous program that has ever been foisted on your children," which has to have boosted the teen ratings for the premiere by at least 5 percent.

MTV ran the premiere on Monday with a TV-MA content rating, meaning it's not suitable for viewers under the age of 17, which has to have boosted its teen (aka 12-to-17-year-old viewers) rating by at least 4 percent.

A newspaper report came out Thursday - New York Times - which detailed a meeting we wish we'd been invited to, in which MTV suits regaled themselves with speculation as to which of them could wind up in the hoosegow if future episodes aired as delivered to MTV by the producers, which is sure to boost guy-teens ratings by - oh wait, guy teens don't read newspapers. Too bad.

The MTV suits seemed particularly exercised by Episode No. 3, airing January 31 - mark it on your calendar - in which a 17-year-old-in-real-life actor, playing a high school student who has taken a strong anti-clothing line and simultaneously experimented with erectile dysfunction drugs, is seen running down a street; the sky's the limit on what that will do for the show's pre-teen numbers.

Is this what "Skins" executive producer Bryan Elsley meant in that letter he sent to TV critics last month noting the show's young, unknown actors, "are making the characters their own and demanding that their voices to heard"?

Taco Bell told The Hollywood Reporter Thursday of "Skins" that "upon further review, we've decided that the show is not a fit for our brand and have moved our advertising to other MTV programming," which IS SO going to increase next week's young guy ratings by about 2 percent.

Yes, Taco Bell: too classy for "Skins."

"On January 17, the Viacom-owned cable network MTV aired a teenager-based drama, 'Skins.' The episode included all manner of foul language, illegal drug use, illegal activity as well as thoroughly pervasive sexual content. Moreover, future episodes promise much more of the same," PTC said in a yeasty letter is claims to have "sent to Committee Chairmen Patrick Leahy and Lamar Smith" as well as "the rest of the Judiciary Committee members, Attorney General Eric Holder and Federal Communications Committee Chairman Julius Genachowski."

"It is clear," PTC continued, "that Viacom has knowingly produced material that may well be in violation of any or all of the following federal statutes:

18 U.S.C. § 1466A (2008) Obscene Visual Representations of the Sexual Abuse of Children

18 U.S.C. § 2251 (2008) Sexual Exploitation of Children

18 U.S.C. § 2252 (2008) Relating to Material Involving the Sexual Exploitation of Minors

18 U.S.C. § 2252A (2008) Relating to Material Constituting or Containing Child Pornography."

By Lisa de Moraes  | January 20, 2011; 5:51 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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