“Skins” boss Bryan Elsley: The lesbian character on American “Skins” is “going to be at the center of everything”


A couple of months ago, when two sets of contradicting casting sides (and two photos) leaked onto the Internet, Sapphic speculation started swirling around MTV’s forthcoming American adaptation of the UK teen drama Skins: Is the American version going to be a photocopy of the first season of UK Skins? Has gay guy Maxxie been replaced with gay guy Teo? Has Teo been replaced with a lesbian named Tea? Do these names mean anything to you if you haven’t watched the first two seasons of the British show? (Last answer: No.) (Bonus question: Why haven’t you watched the first two seasons of the British show?)

I’ve been chatting with Bryan Elsley — co-creator of Skins and big boss of the adaptation — for many weeks about his new characters, and I can now confirm for you that there is a lesbian on the upcoming American Skins. And yep, her name is Tea.

Several gay sites — including our brothers at AfterElton.com — have expressed disappointment over the loss of the Maxxie character, and here’s what Bryan had to say when I asked him about it:

Skins hasn’t "lost" a gay character, since lesbians are gay too, last I heard. Those who saw the first series of Skins might remember that poor old Maxxie was hardly in it. He only came into his own in series two. This new character (Tea) is going to be at the center of everything right from the get go. And, of course, there will be a range of textured gay characters, both male and female, right from the beginning of series one.

If Bryan were forced to sum up Tea in a few words — though let’s be fair: you can’t box-in any Skins character in just a few words — he would call her "messy, challenging and hopefully fascinating."

Making the leap across the pond and introducing a new lesbian into Skins-verse so soon after Naomily hijacked the hearts of the whole world is a brave move indeed. In our first conversation about Tea, Bryan said, "I better not screw it up."

He wasn’t joking.

So, that’s the good news out of the way. Another lesbian on Skins! Hurrah!

But now the hard question: Is the American adaptation going to make you throw your TV out the window and clutch your UK DVDs to your chest while you rock back and forth in the corner singing Temper Trap‘s "Sweet Disposition" over and over to yourself?

I don’t think so.

For starters, Bryan Elsley has taken it upon himself to write Tea’s season one episode. Maybe I can help you remember the punch of his pen by showing you these classic lesbian moments he wrote (and co-wrote):

"Careful, Katie, I might get confused and f–k you with my great big strap-on by mistake."

Oh, for f–k’s sake! She didn’t kiss me, OK? I kissed her. I was drunk and someone gave me MDMA and I felt like f–king kissing someone. Satisfied?

I want to have sex with girls. Yeah. I like girls. I like sex with girls. I like their rosey lips, their hard nipples, bums, soft thighs. I like tits and fanny, you know? There I said it!

I’ve loved you from the first time I saw you; I think I was 12.

(If you don’t know the rest of that speech by heart, go punch yourself in the face.)


(Sort of.)

Bryan tells me that, as with all Skins characters, Tea will also be rounded out with input and writing by authoritative, young female voices. (Maybe even by a lesbian recapper you’ve grown to know and love.)

US Skins will be coming at you in 2011. My love affair with the UK (in general) and Naomi and Emily (specifically) has been well documented here at AfterEllen. But I’m excited about Tea. And you know what? I think you should get excited too!

And while I have your full Skins attention, I hope to have a full interview with Bryan for you next week. Plus, the cast of the next generation of UK Skins will be revealed this Thursday, August 5th. I’m working on a little scoop from Jamie Brittain about another character you just might be interested in. And Skins movie news? Well, that’s not far off either.

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