Each time she got closer to Emily, Naomi pulled back, struggling with the vulnerability that letting herself fall in love allows.
“I do want you,” Emily tells Naomi after they spend the night together, “so be brave, and want me back.”
In a scene that channeled ABC’s Once and Again when Jessie’s mother unwittingly helped her realize she can’t lose Katie (Mischa Barton), Naomi’s mother unknowingly advised her to go after Emily by telling Naomi, “The people who make us happy are never the people we expect. So when you find someone, you’ve got to cherish it.”
In a symbolic closing scene, Naomi went to talk to Emily after rejecting her earlier, but they spoke through the door and held hands through the cat flap. Both girls cried, hidden by the door between them, but Naomi finally let her guard down, telling Emily, “When I’m with you, I feel like I’m a better person; I feel happier; I feel less alone.”
Not since the superbly written Once and Again was canceled seven years ago have we seen such an honest and organic mainstream portrayal of a teenage lesbian love story, where it is explored as part of character’s core being, rather than an issue to later be ignored (One Tree Hill) or a ratings stunt (The O.C.).
Skins also managed to avoid the popular television cliché of focusing on others’ negative reactions when gay teenagers come out or begin relationships.
While we see Emily’s sister disapproving of her possibly being gay throughout the series, the other characters mostly regard it as a non-issue. Naomi’s revelation is represented to the audience as a positive event in which she realizes she is worthy of being loved – something that is worth the feeling of vulnerability.
After it aired, the Skins homepage at E4’s website declared, “The response has been overwhelming for Naomi’s ep.”
Indeed, Naomi’s episode has received more viewer comments than any so far, including some from viewers who said the episode helped them accept they are gay, or inspired them to come out to a friend.
But comments from lesbian viewers were much less positive by the next episode, which focused on socially awkward good guy JJ.