I have a confession to make. Something happened to me, in between the airing of the pilot episode of (U.S.) Skins and the episode I plan to recap today . . . I discovered (U.K.) Skins and I watched it . . . all of it . . . well, at least the first two seasons. And, at some point, during those hours (and HOURS, and HOURS) spent watching the series, I fell in love . . . with Tony (the other Tony) . . .
. . . and
Stanley and Cadie Sid and Cassie . . .
. . . and the rest of that crew of crazy, loveable Brits — all of whom I would TOTALLY party with, if I was remotely cool enough to hang out with them (which, I suspect, I’m not).
While my newfound love affair with (U.K) Skins didn’t dampen my appreciation of THIS version, it DID make it a lot more difficult for me NOT to make endless comparisons between the two. So, I’m just going to put that out there as a warning. I will try my VERY hardest, not to bring up (U.K.) Skins in my (U.S.) Skins recaps.
(But that doesn’t mean I can’t talk about U.K. Skins in the Comments Section! Because I TOTALLY PLAN ON DOING SO! )
However, there is ONE scene from this week’s episode, where I think a comparison to the U.K. version will prove
SUPER HOT! extremely enlightening . . . from a sociocultural perspective. So, I will break my promise just a bit, during this recap, to discuss that scene. But not to worry U.K. Skins virgins, I fully plan to provide you with a YouTube video, for easy reference, when that time comes.
Well, that’s enough of THAT. Don’t you think? On with the recap . . .
Who says you can’t learn about musical history from watching Skins?
(Now, I know the Parent Teacher Council has their panties all in a bunch over some of the content of this show. But I wonder whether they’d think more kindly about it, if they knew that kids could actually learn something from it! Personally, I learned TWO things from watching “Tea,” the first of which I will get to in just a bit . . .)
So, when the episode begins, our titular character Tea is seen taking an exam of some sort. Of course, I use the term “taking” loosely, because she seems WAY more interested in eye f*&king the curly-haired chick, seated a few rows in front of her, than doing any sort of test-taking.
This curly-haired chick’s name is Betty. But I will be referring to her as Betty Boop, because she dresses like, and somewhat resembles, a cartoon character, throughout most of the episode.
After most likely flunking her exam, Tea rushes from class at the final bell, but not before leaving Betty Boop a little love note . . .
Thing I Learned from Skins #1: When I first saw this note, I assumed that it referred to the Lesbian Underground Dance Club where Tea and Betty (and eventually Tea and Tony) met up, during the episode. And I think I was correct in that assumption. But from later research, I ALSO learned that Northern Soul refers to an ENTIRE DANCE MOVEMENT — one that gained grounded in the U.K. back in the 1960s. In fact, many of the songs played during this episode — most notably Tony Clarke’s amazing Landslide (which got downloaded onto my iPod, moments after I finished watching the show) and Wade in the Water (which I WILL download, once I find the right version) — are examples of music that can be classified as Northern Soul. Who knew?
After school, Tea rushes home, flies past various members of her loud and boisterous family, and heads immediately to her room, where she casts aside her”binding” school clothes, and exchanges them for some Hoochie Girl Party Gear. (I mean no disrespect in saying this, of course. Hoochie Girl Party Gear is a must have in EVERY gal’s wardrobe!) Tea then heads immediately to an underground club filled with close-dancing females, that I can only assume is Northern Soul.
Once there, Tea really lets out her inner rock star — dancing alone, confidently, and un-self-consciously. You can tell immediately that the moments when Tea is dancing, are the ones when she feels the most free . . . the most “normal.” You can contrast Tea’s dancing, to the showy grindage, Tony and Michelle engaged in, during the pilot episode . . .
While Tony and Michelle dance to raise eyebrows, and be admired, Tea dances because she clearly loves it.
Within a few moments, Betty Boop has located Tea on the dance floor. But they don’t get to do much “dancing” together (or talking, or thinking . . . for that matter) . . .
Before you can say “Northern Soul,” Tea and Betty are up against the wall, making out like it’s going out of styl. Then they go back to Tea’s house, and it’s Screw Time!
We are then treated to a few censor-approved “tasteful” shots of the girls doing the horizontal mambo on the bed. And before you can say, “Parent Teacher Council,” it’s morning time in Skins World.
“There was a lotta lickin!”
Tea and Betty rush downstairs, but not before they are ambushed by Tea’s dad, who seems like a kinder, gentler, more blue-collar, version of Tony Soprano. So, of course, I love him ALREADY!
Awkward moments are a-plenty, as Tea’s dad and Tea start rattling off one sexual pun, after another — carelessly chatting about “chewing things over” and “screwing around,” as if they are discussing the day’s weather. Betty Boop is clearly not pleased to be there.
Things get even MORE awkward when Tea’s dad introduces Betty Boop to Tea’s massive family.
By far, the most interesting of this gaggle of relatives is Tea’s zany Nana, who rattles off hilarious lines about past presidents like “No more Tricky Dicky for a LONG TIME!” (They must hear this kind of stuff EVERY morning, because no one in the room laughs, or even seems to be listening, for that matter.)
Things get THREE times as awkward, when Tea’s straight girlfriend Daisy comes by, and the family refers to her as “The Gay One.” (Tea’s family clearly does not know that she’s a lesbian.) Daisy shows off her rack to the two lovers, and wonders out loud whether she has the tatas of a lesbian. This causes me to wonder what Lesbian Tatas look like, exactly. (Maybe they are rainbow-colored?)
Honestly, I couldn’t tell whether Betty Boop was all in a snit, because another woman was there, or because now all of Italy probably knows she spent the night getting naked with a female. Whatever it is, Betty starts acting like a major biatch, threatening Tea that she “better not tell anyone,” and sending Daisy death ray stares, every time the poor girl speaks. Daisy smugly notes that Betty has hickeys all over neck, which causes the enraged chica to Boop Boop Be Doop her way toward the Exit Stage Left. “How did it go?” Daisy asks, referring to the departed Betty.
“There was a lotta lickin'” Tea replies. (You’ll be pleased to know that this has just become my new favorite catchphrase)
Tea’s dad interrupts the love fest to tell Tea that he’s decided to pimp her out to some connected mob guy’s son, probably so that The Family can make the kids’ father “an offer he can’t refuse.” (Man, I LOVE Mob Stuff!) The two mafia-born kids will go “bowling” together the following evening. The good news is that Tea will be paid well for going on this date, and she doesn’t have to “do any funny stuff” with him, if she doesn’t want to do so.
On the bus on the way to school, Tea’s friend Abbud remarks on how funny it is that Tea has to go on a Mob Date. He also does a pretty good Brando impression (or maybe that was supposed to be Deniro . . . or Pacino . . . maybe it wasn’t such a good impression after all) “I come to you, to ask you this favor,” he rasps.
Abbud then spends the rest of the bus ride staring Tea’s boobs, which, I guess, have become kind of unofficial cast members, themselves, for all the time everyone spends staring at them, and talking about them . . .
Making Monkey and Getting Le Donged
It’s lunchtime now. And Tony has a proposition for Crazy Pill Popping Cadie, who seems way more mellow, ever since her meds have been adjusted . . .
Tony wants Cadie to pretend that she has been “making monkey” with his best bud Stanley. He claims that this would be a “sweet” thing to do, since it would save Stanley from the “embarrassment” of teen virginity. Cadie glances over at Stanley, who is currently looking pretty darn pathetic, with his sauce covered face, and sad puppy dog eyes . . .
“Well . . . he could look happier, now that we’re banging eachother,” notes Cadie perceptively.
“I’ll work on that,” promises Tony.
Oh, I bet you will, Tony.
“OK . . . I’ll do it . . . because it’s sweet, and I like that,” concludes Cadie, making me like HER a bit more than I did last week.
Tony’s happy too . . .
But his happiness seems to have less to do with “being sweet” to Stanley, and more to do with Tea’s Tatas. (See what I mean, about them being their own character.) When Tea arrives at the cafeteria, Tony reminds her of her promise to have a Wardrobe Malfunction a la Janet Jackson at the homecoming game, during half time, if Stanley got laid. And he DIDN’T. But Tony says he did . . . and if Tony says it, it must be true.
This love fest between Tony and Tea’s Tatas is interrupted by some school assembly, where some dorky looking teacher lectures the kids on how drugs, sex and partying are “bad stuff.” I suspect the scene was supposed to be “funny.” But it wasn’t. What was kind of funny, was when one of the “Guest Speakers” turned out to be Stanley’s drug dealer from the pilot, who bears the unfortunate last name of Le Dong.
Since last week, someone in the makeup department has obviously ramped up the Scare Factor on Le Dong’s mug, as he has clearly gone from Mildly Intimidating Old Dude to Zombie Crypt Keeper, in a matter of days. (Bad Trip, perhaps?) This guy needs to meet up with the Jersey Shore kids from some Gym, Tanning, Laundry STAT! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a face that color!
Anyway, Le Dong uses his guest speaking opportunity to make some thinly veiled threats to Stanley, who still owes him 900 smackers for the drugs he “bought on credit,” which are now probably being smoked by Little Nemo and his friends beneath the sea . . .
Hours and HOURS of making monkey aren’t going to lift Stanley’s spirits NOW! And his friends aren’t exactly much help, leaving the poor kid to rot in the unisex bathroom, while they rush off to class.
Not Measuring Up
As for Tea, she has her own problems, like the fact that she spotted her closeted new girlfriend hanging all over her fake boyfriend during lunch. And yet, strangely, Betty Boop, who earlier was telling Tea that she “better not tell anyone” about the fact that they banged, suddenly, seems ASTOUNDED by the notion that Tea doesn’t want to be in a relationship with her. “Nobody measures up to me,” remarks Tea confidently, when Betty asks her why she’s not interested in romantic relationships.
(Well, I don’t necessarily think that’s true, Tea. But Betty Boop certainly doesn’t seem to measure up. You can do better, Girlfriend!)
At dinner, Tea tries to come out to her family, but they are all carrying on so loudly, that nobody seems to notice. Then Tea’s sister’s water breaks, and everybody leaves . . . except for Tea’s poor Nana, of course.
Later that night, Tea has nobody to talk to, so she decides to chat up Audrey Hepburn . . . or, at least her poster . . .
Since, clearly none of the girls in her school “measure up” to Audrey Hepburn, Tea decides to “hook up” with the person she loves most . . . herself.
And then this happens . . .
The Awkward Moment when you are “entertaining yourself” under the covers, and your grandma climbs into bed with you . . .
Wade in the Water (and in Tony’s pants)
The next afternoon, Tea’s dad drops Tea off at her
prostitution gig date. And, wouldn’t you know it, her suitor is TONY! Tony remarks on how cool it is that both of them are working for the mob, how relieved he is that Tea isn’t a “dog,” and how his girlfriend Michelle wont’ care about what they’re doing, because it’s a “Paid Gig.” (Just keep telling yourself that, Romeo!)
Tony then offers to take Tea out for a drink. Of course, by “drink” he means ” a cheap bottle of vodka they can share,” and by “out” he means “to the local playground Sit ‘n Spin.” (As if Tea didn’t feel like enough of a hooker, already!)
The next scene takes place ENTIRELY on the Sit N’ Spin. So, the revolving camera gave me bad flashbacks to watching The Blair Witch Project, and gave me that distinct flavor of nausea that one only can get from watching more than 2 minutes of “Shaky Cam.”
Despite the fact that Tea, as Tony says, “worships the coochie shrine,” it is obvious that these two have a connection. They are both confident, to the point of being cocky, smart, to the point of being disaffected, blase about what life has to offer them, and most importantly, HIGHLY SEXUAL beings.
As for Tony, though, I think the real moment he falls in love with Tea, is when she pukes right in front of him, and still keeps drinking and flirting, as if it never happened. (Ahhhh . . . the wonders of Vomit Love!) “You don’t give a sh*t, do you?” Tony remarks, awestruck.
“No, I really don’t,” replies Tea.
Yoda Tony wisely notes that what makes Tea interesting is not that she’s a lesbian, but that she holds back, and doesn’t let anybody in. Tea doesn’t necessarily disagree with this assessment. And adds that she might have a “screw loose,” because she can’t fathom the concept of falling in love.
“Maybe it just needs tightening,” Tony jokes lasciviously. “I can match you. You’ve met your match,” he concludes, reminding us of Tea’s earlier words to Betty Boop, about nobody “measuring up.”
The now-completely sh*tfaced Tea and Tony head to the currently abandoned Northern Soul club. There, Tea puts on the song, Wade in the Water, and the two begin to dance. Again, Tea looks confident, carefree, and unself-conscious. The clearly smitten Tony, however, seems a bit less confident than he did during his sexualized boogie with Michelle, during the week prior.
Now, there’s no audience. Its just him, and Tea, and the music. And that makes things more difficult for him.He gets into it eventually, however. And the pair develop a rather nice rhythm to this blues-y song.
Then the dancing slows down, and things get a bit more sexually intense. Meaningful looks are exchanged (well, as meaningful as looks can be, after you’ve drank an entire bottle of vodka). Suddenly, the pair are making out, hardcore . . .
Tea pulls back, shocked at what she has just done. And Tony stumbles away for a moment, to prepare himself for what he knows that he is ABOUT TO DO . . .
And then . . . it happens, the sex. It is awkward, and drunken, and fumbling, yet oddly sexy, in its honesty. Because THIS is what drunk (sort of ) inexperienced teens look like, when they are experimenting sexually with one another. This is REAL. Most of the well-choreographed stuff you see on TV is just smoke and mirrors. It’s so real in fact, that Tea starts cracking up, when it’s all over (which is in less than a minute). Needless to say, it’s not QUITE the response that Tony was looking for.
“That was terrible,” giggles Tea
“Normal girls like it,” responds Tony, with a cute pout.
“They must be REALLY stupid,” Tea replies.
We feel your pain, Tony!
But despite his bruised ego, and broken heart, Tony is a good sport about the whole thing, which made me like him A LOT (even though he TOTALLY cheated on his girlfriend Michelle, with her best friend). After all, can’t all of us relate to wanting something we can’t have, PRECISELY because we can’t have it?
Now, I positively LOVED this scene! It was sexy, and complex, and extremely well-acted by both of it’s participants. And yet, knowing that, in the U.K. version, Tea was actually a homosexual boy named Maxxie, I couldn’t help but compare THIS sex scene gone awry to its British counterpart. Since, I can’t embed the video (click on it, you won’t be disappointed!), let’s post that sexy picture again, shall we?
It’s interesting how in BOTH scenes, Tony is the sexual aggressor –a confident guy who’s certain that he can seduce ANYONE, regardless of their sexual orientation. And, in both scenes, Tony FAILS in the Art of Seduction. And yet, in the British version, the sexual power, at least initially, belongs to Tony, because HE is straight, and therefore, not necessarily attracted to Maxxie, who’s obviously gay. Presumably, as far as Tony’s concerned, this sex act is merely an instance of sexual experimentation
Meanwhile, in the U.S. scene, the sexual power resides with Tea. SHE is the one who technically shouldn’t be attracted to Tony (whether she actually IS attracted to him is the subject of much debate on the message boards for this show). SHE is the one experimenting, thereby leaving Tony, who is obviously attracted to HER, in the more vulnerable position of the two. Talk about GIRL POWER!
Which brings me to . . .
The Lavendar Scare
Back at home, we learn that Drug Dealer Le Dong has been following Tea. He manhandles her, calls her a dyke, and threatens to do bad things to her, if she doesn’t give up her Poor Friend Stanley, who owes him money. Of course, Papa Tony Soprano 2.0 is watching. (Seriously, Drug Dealer Le Dong! Out of all Stanley’s friends, you chose to mess with the Mob Boss’ Daughter? MORON!)
Le Dong skulks away, and a highly distraught Tea runs into the house, and into her Nana’s bed. “Did you get scared?” Nana asks with concern.
“Yes . . . Nana, I did,” remarks Tea honestly.
It is during this sweet and powerful scene, that we learn that Tea’s nana is ALSO a lesbian. Apparently, she was forced to give up her lover, get married, and live a lie, in order to avoid persecution at the hands of Joseph McCarthy and The Lavender Scare (an event which is The Second Thing I Learned About From Watching Skins this Week). The two gay women hold hands and cry together in bed, and, in doing so, bridge the Generation Gap. And regardless of what your own sexual orientation may be, it’s impossible not to be moved by this scene.
“I Put My Truth on You”
The next day at lunch, Michelle is sitting with Tea, and asking about the details of her “date.” Tea is demure, and doesn’t rat out Tony. She does, however, admit that her “date” “tried something” with her before she “explained” her sexual orientation.
Michelle notes wistfully that it must be nice to “be jumped like that,” as Tony hasn’t exactly been a really “winner” in the loving department lately. This isn’t exactly a surprise given the longing looks Tony is throwing in Tea’s general direction, while the two friends are engaging in this conversation. This Eye F**k Fest is interrupted by Betty Boop, who plants a hot juicy kiss on Tea’s lips in front of the ENTIRE CAFETERIA, including Poor Tony, and Betty’s fake boyfriend, Bobby. (Betty Boop’s boyfriend’s name was Bobby. Now THAT’S Funny!)
“I put my truth on you,” says Betty slyly, before strutting out of the cafeteria. (PRETTY SMOOTH, Miss Boop!)
After school Tea’s dad picks her up, in a very crowded car that includes a bunch of his mob goons, and . . . get this . . . Le Dong . . . the drug dealer . . .
Tea’s dad wants Le Dong to swim with the fishes (and Stanley’s weed) because he THINKS that Le Dong called Tea, not what he ACTUALLY called her (dyke) but something that RHYMES with what he called her, and is a derogatory term for people of the Jewish faith. Tea tries to correct her father, but he won’t hear it. So, Tea simply tells her dad not to MURDER Le Dong. Tea’s dad nods, tells Tea that she is a “good person,” and then drives away . . .
Personally, I hope he killed him. Does that make me a Bad Person?
At the end of the episode, Tea gets a phone call from the clearly lovesick Tony, who tells her, “I matched you. I matched you good.”
OK . . . officially loving him, now. But who’s room is he in? Hopefully not Michelle’s!
At the same time, Tea also gets a phone call, from Betty Boop. But she ignores them both, and instead begins to dance to Wade in the Water, in a bedroom adorned with . . . you guessed it . . . lavender!
That’s it for this week’s episode. Based on the previews, next week’s Skin’s installment, “Chris,” looks like an almost shot-for-shot remake of the U.K. episode of the same name, which just so happens to be the first FULL episode of U.K. Skins that I watched. It will be interesting to see how this one translates . . .
See you then!