“Skins” Controversial Lesbian Storyline


Emily (Kathryn Prescott) and Naomi (Lily Loveless)

It’s been a difficult year for lesbians on television. When they haven’t been dying, they’ve been falling in line with the classic and highly offensive stereotype of hooking up with men.

So when the UK’s hugely popular Skins, a sometimes-far-fetched but always-racy teen drama, came along to portray a well-developed, realistic lesbian storyline that poignantly explores first love, it was like the Hallelujah Chorus blaring.

But then there was a record scratch and the jubilation stopped.

After being praised for the way it handled a gay male’s story previously, the show left many lesbians dumbfounded after Emily (Kathryn Prescott), a self-declared gay girl, helped social outcast JJ (Ollie Barbieri) lose his virginity in a “once-only charity event” — after making love to object of her affection Naomi (Lily Loveless) just one episode earlier.

While many viewers called it a plot contrivance that refuses to take Emily’s sexual orientation seriously, others have defended the show as equally allowing all characters, gay and straight, to make stupid decisions regarding sex.

For those unfamiliar, Skins is a bit like The O.C. It’s a primetime drama that has taken the UK teenage demographic by storm with its attractive but eccentric characters, angst-ridden histrionics and indie rock soundtrack — but it has enough foul language, drugs and sex to make The O.C. look like Sesame Street.

Skins, while sometimes guilty of using gimmicks and plot devices at times (MDMA brownies anyone?), is largely focused on character development, devoting each of the series’ ten episodes to one member of the core cast.

The show began its third season, which debuted Jan. 22, with a new batch of troublemakers beginning their two-year stint at Roundview College (the British equivalent to 11th and 12th grades in the States). Among them was Naomi who, brash and politically aware, apparently has some history with Emily, a twin who lets her boy-crazy and seemingly homophobic sister Katie (Megan Prescott) boss her around.

At new student orientation, we learned Katie hates Naomi because she thinks Naomi kissed Emily pre-Roundview. But it quickly became apparent Emily doesn’t share her sister’s disdain for Naomi.

Over the course of the season, Naomi insisted (unconvincingly) that she was straight, but the two girls developed a friendship permeated with romantic tension.

Naomi and Emily at a slumber party in episode 4


The tension reached a breaking point in the Feb. 26 episode, “Naomi.”

Naomi, who hides her loneliness with a rude, guarded exterior, found herself with three unlikely suitors: Kieran, her politics teacher who sees himself in Naomi but ultimately betrayed her trust by trying to kiss her; the obnoxious and crude Cook, who seems intrigued by Naomi’s aloofness and indifference toward him; and Emily, who sees someone special in Naomi.

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