Great LezBritain: Interview with “Skins” writer Ed Hime

 
 

AE: Did you feel extra responsibility to portray Naomily positively
and fairly because there are so few representations of lesbian couples
on TV and they meant so much to their fans?

EH: I didn’t really think about them as lesbians for quite a
while but then when Naomily started kicking off, the people on the show
realised that they had a total phenomenon on their hands.

I felt that my only real duty was to explore them as people and tell an
emotionally honest story about them and not to think about what it was
saying in a wider cultural context. I think you comment on it by not
commenting on it, by just treating them like everyone else in the show
and treating their story as equally valid.


AE: Which is quite a lot of pressure for you as a writer?

EH: Yes, I was pretty terrified and really nervous. The spine of
series 3 was Effy, Freddy and Cook but the characters that really landed
with people were Naomi and Emily, and the degree of the admiration for
them was certainly a welcome shock.

AE: We spoke to Lily and Kat just before series 4 kicked off and they
thought that in series 3 they were going to be a side story and the
subsequent attention they had was quite surprising to them. Was it a
surprise to everyone?

EH: I think quite a few people knew that something big was going
to happen. In retrospect it’s easy to think that they were going to be
big, but they were so pure and so innocent compared to the Effy, Freddy
and Cook storyline, which I do love but it was so nihilist and grinding.
The motivations of those characters were a little obscure, but with
Emily and Naomi, you knew that they were supposed to be together and
Emily really recognized something in Naomi that no one else did.

AE: What do you think that was?
EH: That she was desperate to be loved and desperate to be needed
but was terrified to ask for that. I think she fancied her and spent
ages staring at her until she eventually figured her out.

AE: Was it their innocence and vulnerability in season 3 that made
you want to take them on a much darker route in series 4?

EH: There is a Skins tradition to show what is awesome
about the characters in the first series and then in the second series
to really test them. I mean, those two feelings are flip sides of the
same coin and are totally necessary because what you are exploring are
Naomi’s fears and that goes to the core of her character. I know that
people were so furious that they only had half an episode of actually
being happy together and I sympathize with that, but it is a drama and I
couldn’t just write Naomi and Emily sat in the park having a lovely
time.


AE: I think a fair few people would have loved that though. [Both
laugh.]


EH: I know but things are never easy in the world of Skins.


AE: You said people were furious at them only having half an episode of
happiness in series 4, how did you gauge that reaction?

EH: There is a real interface between Skins and the fans
online, but I have to say the fans on AfterEllen were the most positive
in the immediate aftermath of Emily and Naomi splitting up, and Heather Hogan’s recaps were
brilliant. You dream of someone taking the time to digest an emotional
response and not going through an episode with some knee-jerk reaction. I
read them religiously because she had a mighty understanding of
story-telling and I’d like to say that everything she said was planned,
but she saw some stuff that we were lucky to have attributed to us.


AE: Do you think it was out of character for Naomi to cheat on Emily
like many of the fans did?

EH: I saw it as a form of self-defense for Naomi to sabotage her
happiness on that level. I think she could see how far she could fall if
it all f–ked up, so it was a preemptive strike from her. I think it
is quite easy for many people to relate to this but it may be difficult
for others to understand her motivations. For me it was totally within
character for Naomi to have done this and in retrospect after you have
seen episode 8, I think you get what was going on.

AE: So you felt that the storyline had to arc out until the end of
the season? The issues couldn’t be resolved in Emily’s episode?

EH: That episode was about Emily realizing that the worst
possible thing that could happen to her has happened and not wanting to
realise it. We didn’t think that episode should be about Naomi
explaining herself.

AE: I suppose if you were trying to just keep everyone happy, it
would have been difficult for you to write the story in the context of a
drama series?

EH: I always felt in my head that it would be okay with Emily and
Naomi before I knew how it ended. I never doubted that it was true
love. I knew they would find a way, but they would just have to go
through hell to get there.

AE: And that in itself is a more powerful story because if you go
through hell and come out the other side of it, then it’s a deeper love?

EH: Yes, it is then enduring love. I mean this series was
basically Emily and Naomi beating the s–t out of each other nearly the
whole time. They were bloody and bruised but saying "I still love you."
It’s beautiful to know that as a couple you have been tested in that way
and come through it.


AE: In the goggles scene when Naomi cries, is it because she loves Emily
so much or that she is guilty?

EH: It is a bit of both I think. She is obviously guilty but it’s
strange at that point because you don’t know why. I love that bit when
she gives her the goggles.

AE: Emily wearing the goggles with Naomi on the bike has become a very
iconic Skins image – that must make you feel proud?

EH: Yes, it does and once I got it in my head I thought it would
look f–king great. I loved the scene with them on the bikes in series 3
so I wanted to say in one image that they have just had the best summer
of their lives and saying they got a bike together takes it up a
level.


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