I watched the first ep of Skins on Monday night (10pm on SBS) and I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun watching telly. Half a dozen young hotties drink booze, take drugs and exchange witticisms while trying to shag each other. What’s not to love?

Skins, essentially, is another in the line of OC-style shows about s-xy teenagers doing s-xy teenage things. In the case of Skins, though, the kids aren’t the impeccably-groomed offspring of (often alcoholic) millionaires, but tough kids from Bristol who, as a character mentions (in Italian – just go with it), “go to a school where you don’t have to pay”.

The fact that Skins chooses as its setting the tougher, poorer streets of Bristol places it firmly in a long line of British drama built around working-class people struggling with working-class problems – Coronation Street, EastEnders, Shameless. Compare them to their American equivalents – The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of Our Lives, Dallas – and it’s clear that while Americans love aspiring to glamorous, bejewelled lives in fashion or oil or whatever, the English prefer to look down the class chain to their working-class roots. And in Australia? Our dramas are generally right in the middle – Neighbours, Home and Away, SeaChange. We want to see us, but a more interesting us. And with a nicer kitchen.

The stories in Skins are an interesting mix of your standard teen fodder – I want to lose my virginity, I’m in love with my best friend’s girlfriend, I’ve got a crush on my hot teacher – and your, well, not-so-standard – I’ve just lost three ounces of dope that I bought on credit from a deranged and moustachioed dealer at a suburban knock-shop who will cut my balls off if I don’t pay.

Its writers claim that the stories are a realistic portrayal of teen life, that for once, a teen TV show has the guts to tell it like it really is. Its critics argue that it unnecessarily glamorises drug use, unsafe s-x etc etc.

Frankly, I don’t care. When six sixteen year-olds prang a stolen Merc into a canal after a night on the tiles; when a character talks about his mate losing his virginity as “presenting Mr Happy with the keys to the furry city”; and when the same callous, wicked and manipulative character is actually a choirboy, it’s pretty clear we’re in some sort of magically ridiculous fantasy world.

And I, for one, am all for it.