Many people have expressed outraged that Skins has managed to take two anti-establishment characters like Franky and Rich and destroy them by turning them mainstream. I think to understand these changes we must understand the entire point of Skins, but also understand the characters themselves. People get so bogged down in labels that they end up stifling their own personal growth or understanding the personal growth of others. Franky and Rich are on a journey and their clothes don’t matter.
Macro-Argument (Big Picture/Societal)
The entire point of Skins is that sometimes we misjudge people by their appearances. We may jump to conclusions based on how people dress, people act on the surface, and who they hang out with. In many ways clothes are a distraction to the individual that actually exists inside of someone. Also, being a metalhead, being a hipster, being punk, being goth, or any other counter-culture subgroup is just a different kind of conformity. You are all deciding to dress the same to make a statement. Everyone conforms and people influence us all the time. We are not islands and we were never supposed to be. When we are younger we tend to go from group to group changing our style often. It is part of being a young person we try out many different hats in order to figure out who we really are.
Rich – The Metal Man
The entire development of Rich is overcoming stubborn, immature, and a stifling narrow definition of himself. He is obsessed with a label. “I’m metal.” “I’m a metalhead.” He uses that label to keep himself at a distance from those who may have picked on him or judged him for being a bit different. He uses it as a shield to keep his world narrow afraid to actually let anything new in. With the help of Grace he learns that by being so obsessed with labels he is actually short changing himself. He could have missed out on a transformative love by being so one-track minded about his label. That’s the ENTIRE purpose of Rich. To learn to widen his viewpoints and let a more diverse group of people into his world and by doing that new influences come into your world. You are changed. Not because you want to fit in and not because you want to be mainstream, but by the art of interacting. All of my friends who were metalheads, punks, and goths have grown up and met new people. All of them have stopped wearing their old clothes. It is part of maturing.
Rich is still Rich. He is just more mature. His girlfriend died and that changes you completely. Before Grace died he was still wearing his metal clothes and afterwards he stopped. I think partly because it brings up too many Grace memories that he is just not ready to handle. However I think the overwhelming reality of his fashion change stems from him growing up. Losing Grace monumentally changed him, because there is no way it couldn’t. He had to grow up faster than his friends and because of his metal head ways he has such a great foundation to survive with. Metal heads are empowered people with a great sense of self. This is VERY Rich. They are people of action. VERY Rich. They are people who fight for what they love and never back down from saying their opinion. VERY Rich. The clothes were never suppose to define Rich. Only Rich defines Rich. He is metal to the core he is just growing up. He is maturing.
As you get older you realize that the world is made up of three camps. People who try to hard to fit a label. People who try to hard to run from a label only to run into another one. Then there are the adults in the world who say “fuck labels…be you.” That is the coolest and most different thing you could possibly be. Because no one does you like you. No one does Rich like Rich. He’s Rich.
The main thing with Franky is that people misunderstand her brand of androgyny. There is the sexual kind in which the androgyny ties into how you view yourself sexually and how you interact with the world sexually. There is also gender confusion androgyny you are not sure where you fall in terms gender. Then you have Franky’s androgyny which is tied into the fact that Franky has no idea who she is or who she is supposed to be. She has not had many female influences in her life until recently and the only thing she knows is that she didn’t want to change, because she wanted to fit in. She was successful in that. Through her new friendships, her loving fathers, and her new opportunity to explore who Franky really is she is able to experiment. Frankybluerichards has noticed and also the fashion guru of Skins has stated that Franky changes her outfit according to mood. The main point I have to make is…Franky’s identity was never androgynous she is in the process of defining who she is right now. The Franky we met in Series 5 was scared and trying to be invisible. The Franky we know now is in tons of pain and trying to fight her way into figuring out who she is.
Growing up and changing is an extremely realistic thing to do. I have no problems with the fashion changes for either of these characters. One is defining who she is and the other learned to stop defining himself so severely. None of them compromised their values to impress someone else. They both changed, because they were learning from different people and choosing to change for their own personal reasons. Both of them are themselves to their core and that is all anyone can ask for from individualists. Not to make decisions based on labels…but to make decisions based on who you are. Rich and Franky are the ONLY two characters in Generation 3 who have never made a decision in order to be cool or to impress someone. That is what makes them strong individualists whether they are metal, androgynous, naked, or somewhere between. They are still a different brand of Skins character.