I remember exactly where I was when I first heard about Skins. Trapped during a Christmas blizzard in a rented A-frame that didn’t feel anything like home. Hunched over my laptop (the same one, a little worse for wear, I’m writing on now), getting on AfterEllen to try and tune out the sound of a fight downstairs. I don’t remember which of Heather Hogan’s recaps I read first, but I tore through all of them that night, pausing frequently so my reading the recaps and viewing the series mostly kept pace. And I don’t know; it was just exactly what I needed. It got to me in the way that you will understand if you have ever had the experience of the right story at the right time. “Believer” was the song I played on repeat for my first big breakup, and “Jump In” was the song I played on repeat when I was finally ready to put the broken pieces of my life back together. It reaffirmed my belief that bravery is the virtue that paves the way for all the other virtues, and maybe most importantly, Heather’s recaps are the reason I started writing recaps, and the reason you are reading this now. Skins changed my life.
And that’s why I have absolutely no intention of watching Skins Fire.
The concept of picking up an old story and resuming it years later is fraught with difficulties from the outset, but I was initially excited when I heard we would be seeing more Naomily. “Adulthood breaking your bones,” the new series’ tag line, could have been the tag line for my first couple of years out of college. I would have liked to hear the story of the people who were young harder than anyone else learning how to grow up. When you are young, the world is color-saturated, and every emotion, even pain, is honed to such a fine point that it achieves the quality of the exquisite. Everything is forbidden and you’re oppressed by your parents so every act of rebellion feels as delicious as stolen liquor and as epic as though you are the leader of your own private revolution (viva Cook, and all that).
And then you leave your parents’ home, and immediately the endlessly fascinating landscape of your emotions takes a back seat to your need to feed yourself. Leaving youth for adulthood is one of the hardest journeys to make, especially for people who were so good at being young. It is also one of the most rewarding. I mean, it broke my bones, it broke me down into my smallest parts, but it also built me back up again, into a person who is capable of keeping the best parts of childhood and childish wonder, and also (mostly) pay her bills. There are lots of good lessons and good stories in that time of life.
But those aren’t the stories that Skins Fire chose to tell. From what I can glean from the cries of anguish on Twitter, this is a story about the randomness and cruelty of the world. And don’t get me wrong: the world can be both random and cruel, but that’s not how I want this story to end. It means too much to me.
An ending is just a made-up idea, you know. For example:
Ending A: And they lived happily ever after, in a state of perpetual orgasmic bliss.
Ending B: Until one of them was tragically killed by a falling piano.
Ending C: Which inspired the surviving partner to invent a superior piano harness which eventually saved the life of the scientist who cured herpes.
You see? Life goes on and on even after we die, and an ending is just something a writer does because they are tired of writing.
I look back on The L Word, a show that also meant a lot to me, albeit in a very different way, and I wish I could take back watching that abomination of a final season, where everything good about it was slowly beaten to death by a sledgehammer. I do my best to forget it, but I can’t unsee it.
I can’t do that to Skins, and I don’t need to, because I already have my ending. It’s the one where Naomi and Emily are kissing in Freddy’s shed, the tickets to Goa safe in Naomi’s bag. The world is big and bright and imperfect and scary, but love is brave and merciful. If you need a refresher, go back and read Heather’s recap, you won’t regret it. That’s the ending I want to carry around in my heart.
I know some people will say I’m being a coward–will even quote Emily’s words about bravery back to me. And to them I say, go watch it. Be brave. But also be kind and gentle to your heart and your dreams and your memories.