When the first series of In My Skin came out in 2018, it became a critical hit and a multiple Welsh Bafta winner because of how deftly it offset the classic coming-of-age themes of first crushes, minor rebellions, faux bravado and deep insecurities with something much darker.
Based on writer Kayleigh Llewellyn’s own experiences of growing up with a mother with bipolar disorder, In My Skin tells the story of Bethan, a 16-year-old for whom life is a constant balancing act.
Played with a believable patchwork of vulnerability and faux bravado by Gabrielle Creevy, Bethan is always ready with a convincing lie, desperate to deflect attention from what’s really going on at home: a mother with severe mental health issues and a drunk, deadbeat father.
This time around though, things seem to be looking up. Her mum Trina (a jaw-dropping performance by Jo Hartley as a mother capable of both deep love and staggering cruelty) appears to be in a good place: out of hospital and working at the bingo hall. Meanwhile Bethan is head girl and, as her loving nan couldn’t stop boasting, destined for university. She even managed some successful flirting with Cam, the new girl at school.
In My Skin plays on how precarious life can be and a tender first kiss with Cam was immediately tainted by the discovery of her mum in a cinch with another man. It’s a show that jerks you around emotionally, unafraid to offer its heroine – and its audience – hope and heartbreak in equal measure.
But what In My Skin does beautifully is that it allows Beth to be a teenager as much as it does a victim of circumstance, without ever losing sight of how high the stakes are for her.
There isn’t another show on television like this and it continues to be as gritty and gorgeous as ever.
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