In its penultimate episode last week (3.9 "Katie and Emily"), British teen drama Skins brought a satisfying conclusion to its lesbian storyline — a noteworthy event given how few TV shows you can say that about (including The L Word).
The show’s development of a romantic relationship between lesbian teenager Emily (Kathryn Prescott) and probably bisexual teenager Naomi (Lily Loveless) was messy, full of missteps and misunderstandings, but it was honest, realistic (for TV), and organic (unlike, say, the finale webisode for South of Nowhere, which felt contrived and tacked on).
If you missed the episode, you can watch a preview of it here:
The story of Emily is also remarkable for what it isn’t: a coming-out story. At least, not primarily.
Emily struggles briefly in the beginning with accepting her sexuality. But everyone besides Emily’s parents and her twin sister Katie (Megan Prescott) react with not much more than a shrug to the fact that she’s gay. When she comes out to classmate Thomas (Merveille Lukeba) in this episode while they’re waiting for the bus, he’s mostly concerned with getting out of the cold, telling her, "That’s fine. Shall we get a taxi? I don’t think the bus is going to come anytime soon."
Emily falls in love with classmate Naomi early on in the season and embraces it, but it takes Naomi much longer to accept her feelings for Emily. When Naomi freaks out after they sleep together for the first time after a day at the lake, Emily begs her to "be brave and want me back." But their relationship vacillates between friendship and romance all season, causing Emily’s emotions to alternate between delight and despair.
This episode starts off with Naomi telling Emily at school that she’s leaving for the summer, then giving in and kissing her in the hall. They end up in bed together at Naomi’s, and for a few hours, everything is good again.
But when Naomi balks at going public with their relationship, Emily realizes, "we’re still holding hands through a cat flap, aren’t we?" and leaves, telling Naomi, "I’m not your f—ing experiment."
A tearful Emily later asks Thomas, "What do you do if someone you love lets you down?" and he tells her "you must try to stop loving them," which they both agree is really not possible.