“Skins” retro recap 3.09: Katie and Emily

There’s a joke my friends and family make 10 times a day about how I cry when I get to the bottom of a bowl of cereal because I don’t want the things I love to end. And it’s so true. Every holiday break, my roomie/bestie and I marathon a show we’ve never watched and by the time we get to that last set of DVDs — if the show’s any good — I’ll make every excuse under the sun not to watch them. Gotta organize the Tupperware, do a blind taste test of every single brand of peanut butter, catalog my comic books, refurbish that antique gumball machine that’s been sitting in the garage since 2003. I hate when things are over; I just want to know there’s more.

I’ve been staring at a blank page for several hours trying to write the last Skins retro-recap, and I can’t decide if I just don’t want it to end, or if I’ve really said everything I want to say about Naomily. If Google Docs are to be believed, I’ve written 100,000 words about Skins this year, which is half of a New Testament. I started 2010 with a Skins recap, and I’m ending 2010 with a Skins recap — and it’s fitting. It’s so fitting. Because 2010 was the Year of Naomily.

When Dr. Ann-Marie Cook interviewed me about her Noamily book, the strongest point I wanted to make was that you have to contextualize Skins to really understand how impressive the whole Naomily phenomenon has been.

Naomi and Emily topped our all-time Top 50 Lesbian and Bisexual characters poll. Lily Loveless and Kathryn Prescott both ranked in the top 10 in our 2010 Hot 100. And Skins owned the 2010 Visibility Awards, sweeping every category they were nominated in: Best Drama, Best Lesbian/Bi character (Emily), Favorite TV Actress (Loveless), and best couple. (And let’s not forget that Meg Prescott and Kaya Scodelario showed strong in the Hot 100, too.)

That’s impressive, sure; but it’s astounding when you put it into context. The majority of AfterEllen.com readers are Americans. Our site is staffed mostly by Americans. Skins is a British show that airs on E4. It’s not readily available to most of us. It’s not even something we see advertised to us. Fox spends one gazillion dollars year to make, say, Glee more popular than God; they export it to every country under the sun. Anyone, almost anywhere in the world, can watch Glee. But you’ve got to want to watch Skins if you live outside the UK. You’ve got to dig for it and beg for it and bribe for it, and sometimes obtain it via — ahem — questionable means. We do whatever it takes to get our hands on Skins and then we love it so much we choose it over big-budget American network shows and A-list Hollywood celebrities and epic lesbian couples that have been around for ages. (And by “we” I mean “you and me,” the fans. Not “we,” the AE staff.)

If American network shows are the blue whales of the TV ocean, Skins is a clownfish. (“You think you can do these things, Nemo, but you can’t!”) (But he can!) It is the small guy, but it is also the very best guy. Naomily, specifically, was a perfect storm of writing and acting and costuming and directing and music. Skins deserved every accolade we gave it this year.

In Ratatouille Anton Ego has this great epiphany that pretty much sums The Year of Naomily for me:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.

Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.

I’ve written 100,000 words about Skins this year, but really they’ve all been superfluous. Picasso said art is lie that tells the truth, and Skins is the embodiment of that maxim. This recap of 3.09 isn’t going to be super long or super detailed because I’ve run out of time. And anyway, Skins has always spoken for itself, Naomi and Emily — and Katie F–king Fitch — most of all.

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