US “Skins” recap (1.02): Leave The Gun, Take the Cannoli


Betty is working hard to keep it from turning into a walk of shame when Tea’s dad comes walking in the front door, home from one of his 30 jobs and exhibiting some Keith Mars-like mannerisms that make me love him immediately. He doesn’t ask, but Tea likes her inside jokes, so she tells him Betty dropped by last night to “chew some things over.” He’s confused about the day of the week, maybe. Or the season. Or Tea’s age. He goes, “You have … school?” She like, “Yeah, Dad.” He says education is important; don’t screw around with it. And Betty just shouts “SCREW!” like one of those people who got hypnotized at a magic show on vacation one time, and now when the doorbell rings they holler, “CHICKEN!” (People with whom I’m smitten #3: Betty. I’m making a list. You can play too if you want.)

Tea’s dad suddenly remembers that Betty is ol’ so-and-so’s kid from down the block, and he drags her into the kitchen under the pretense of showing her off to Tea’s mom, but really so we can know what she meant earlier when she said, “Jesus, how many people live here?!”

Answer: Mom; Dad; generic asshole brother straight out of like a Kohl’s catalog, which is a bummer because even horrible Skins siblings are usually awesome; pregnant sister; niece and nephew; and Nana with dymentia playing Solitaire and rambling with great authority about President Kennedy’s dick. Betty, it is safe to say, is three seconds from hyperventilating. Tea’s mom harps to Betty about how lazy Tea is, and Tea’s sister goes, “Aren’t you the tomboy that used to climb trees?” (Possibly my favorite line of the episode.) It’s raucous, is what what I’m saying, until the doorbell rings and Tea’s brother announces, “Hey, it’s the lesbian!”

Daisy wanders in to the tune of Tea’s mom shouting about, “You have got to talk to him about that! We don’t use the L word; you know it upsets grandma!” (You’re not alone, Nana; The L Word upsets everyone.)

Outside, Daisy says, “Are you going to tell them I’m not a lesbian any time soon?” And it reminds me so very much of Naomi saying to Emily, “Are you going to tell people you’re gay any time soon?” that I actually need a second to recover my composure. (It’s cool; Betty needs some time, too. Daisy just pointed out she’s got some hickey activity happening on her neck.)

Tea leans in for a goodbye kiss, and Betty’s brain just pops! like when you flip the switch and your light bulb is donezo. She stumbles and stutters about how Tea can’t tell anyone they slept together, and she’s calculating exactly how many people she’s going to have to kill now because you’ve got Tea who knows she’s gay, all those lezzers at Northern Soul, possibly the entire family in the kitchen, and now Tea’s best friend. As Betty sort of limps away, dumbfounded and mumbling to herself about hickeys, Tea calls out, “Scaredy cat!” Daisy goes, “Good night?” Tea says, “Eh, it was all right.” Smiles. “There was a lot of lickin’!”

Tea Marvelli, aren’t you something?

Tea’s dad hops off the front porch in his skivvies asking if she remembers their little conversation about how it would be good for the family if she went bowling and made nice with a boy, funny business optional. At first, I thought this was Tea’s dad acknowledging that she’s a lesbian, but that maybe the rest of her family isn’t really ready to hear about it. But no. It’s actually a mild prostitution/mob thing; an acquaintance-making endeavor, if you will. And Tea will. She says it’s cool, not to worry, and her dad looks shifty and reminds her not to mention Tony Soprano to her mother.

So Tea is totally out to her friends, not so much to her family. Maybe she thinks they should already know? Maybe they just can’t hear her saying it? The narrative parallels between Tea and her Nana are masterful, and it all started at the breakfast table earlier when Nana was saying a thousand things and no one was listening.

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