Adapting British series for American audiences has become all the rage. I have no real qualms about American producers cashing in on British success. As long as they adhere to the original's fundamental themes, it's a way to expose quality programming to new audiences.

Adapting British series for American audiences has become all the rage. I have no real qualms about American producers cashing in on British success. As long as they adhere to the original's fundamental themes, it's a way to expose quality programming to new audiences.

With that said, I had serious doubts about MTV's adaptation of the highly acclaimed "Skins," a shockingly realistic look at the trials and tribulations of teenagers. The original is a riveting and truthful portrayal of teen issues (sex, drugs, individuality, friendship), mostly because co-creator Bryan Elsley enlisted his 19-year-old son to co-author.

Well, most of my reservations about MTV's "Skins" disappeared by the second episode. Elsley is on board as executive producer, and the show maintains much of the original's foundation and style.

Each episode focuses on a character, but the pilot also serves as a broad introduction to this group of young troublemakers. Centering on stud Tony (James Newman), the first episode lacks the heart of the British version. It's more like a bunch of snapshots of partying, sex and partial nudity.

But the second episode, titled "Tea" (centering on the character played by Sofia Black-D'Elia), is a wonderful look inside the life of a young lesbian who's wrestling with openness and her sexuality. And the third - about Chris (Jesse Carere), a fearless, carefree funny guy - is powerfully sad, as he is left seemingly abandoned by his parents.

The young and inexperienced cast deserves praise. Their work is heartfelt, funny and raw, even when the sex-crazed-teen aspect gets heavy-handed.

Although the risque factor is toned down on MTV - the original "Skins" was filled with graphic nudity, drug use and violence - it's a vivid representation of teen shenanigans, depicting adolescents with the kind of reality seen in "Kids," only with less darkness and no AIDS.

Also, kudos to MTV for a soundtrack that omits generic pop and instead exposes young Americans to 1960s northern soul.