Skins (US) 1.02 “Tea” Review

First and foremost, I would like to put one thing on the table before I officially start this review of the ‘Tea’ episode of MTV’s Skins. I’m trying my best to deviate away from 1) comparing MTV’s Skins with the original UK series and 2) not mention the “controversy” surrounding the content of the show in the past week since it’s premiere. The problem is that it’s extremely hard to do so, especially with this episode, because of a) this episode clearly helps make the American Skins it’s own show and b) the episode content is not what the PTC and other naysayers are claiming the show to be. In order to prove both sentiments, I have to compare and contrast the elements that are for and against this show. I promise to try harder to help give MTV’s Skins the identity it deserves by helping bring it out of its big brother’s shadow.

Now, enough yakking on my part. Let’s dissect ‘Tea.’

The Wild Card Has Been Played

Since seeing the episode a couple of weeks back, I’ve always pegged Tea as the character that could take MTV’s Skins down it’s own path. She is the most intriguing person of the group, basically being the only original character, despite being identifid as the stand in for the UK Maxxie. Despite both characters being gay and into some form of dance (Maxxie was a triple threat, Tea is a cheerleader), the similarities go off the rails and not just at their gender. You will see what I’m talking about a little later. Let’s analyze the episode and the girl in question first.

An Orientation in Sexual Orientation

As you know, Tea lives life happily as a lesbian, but is bored with her conquests. She just wants someone to “match her” personality wise as well as intellectually. What if that person someone you least expected? What if it’s someone of the opposite sex?

The revelation of Tony being Tea’s match is not all that surprising since Tea could be seen as a female version of Tony, in the sexual category that is. What was surprising is that instead of the typical “kid/person realizes they are gay” storyline, the tables have been turned in this scenario. Do I think Tea is still a lesbian? Yes… and no. Tony could be that guy who has the magnet to attract even the most unlikely of people, and Tea is the latest person caught up in that magnetic pull. It’s a serious case of ‘be careful what you wish for’ with Tony being the most unlikely person on so many levels to “match” what Tea’s looking for.

In the UK version, Tony “hooked up” with Maxxie, but there weren’t any lingering feelings afterwards between the two. At leastnot on Maxxie’s part. The tryst did destroy Michelle’s blinders when it came to Tony and she dumped him after decking him in front of their friends. In this version, it seems that Michelle will have to put in more “work” if she wants to keep Tony’s attention, because he’s set is eyes on a new prize, which will prove to be really hard to get.

It’s a sharp contrast from the beginning of the episode where we saw Tea so sure of herself and her ability to pull girls, such as her latest conquest Betty, with such ease. By the end of the episode, Tea’s world of certainty had been turned upside down, but who will she choose? Her current lifestyle with a newly outed Betty or the wild ‘unknown’ with Tony?

A History Lesson

Maybe that previous question can be answered by looking at Tea’s familial history, including that of her grandmother’s. It turns out that Tea’s Nana is/was a lesbian and lost her lover to the Lavender Scare, which is basically the homosexual equivalent to the Red Scare since it was a part of McCarthyism. At the start of the episode, Tea’s mother forbade her son to say “the L word” around their grandmother because it upset her. With Nana’s babble about the good old days, you would automatically think she was super Conservative. But during a random conversation with Tea, we learned that was clearly not the case. With this information, Tea probably felt a renewed pride in her sexuality, but still felt conflicted with Tony being thrown in the equation. However, I think it’s safe to say that Tea still considers herself gay, given that she so desperately wants her folks to know this fact.

In terms of a “history lesson,” I had never heard anything about the Lavender Scare before viewing this episode. Having now read up on it, I’m appalled that not only has it taken place, but that it’s kept in the dark as deep as it is. It’s a part of history and should be brought to light and I love how the writers slipped it in the way they did. Kudos, writers!

Family Values

It’s apparent that Tea’s folks don’t know about her sexual choices, but what’s not clear is if her father knows or not. He seems to know, but hasn’t accepted it fully or ignores it. When Dr. Le Dong (who I wrongfully called ‘Matt’ – It’s ‘Maddison’) cornered Tea and called her a d*ke. Her father, Marco, ‘thought’ LeDong called Tea a Jewish epithet, which I won’t repeat here. While it’s plausible to get those two words mixed up (Tea is part Jewish and part Italian), Tea knew Marco clearly heard what LeDong said, but was she upset about him not acknowleding her lifestyle or how Marco was handling the situation? It was also suggested in the episode that Marco was a ‘made man,’ something that doesn’t sit well with Tea. She clearly loves her family and is fiercely protective of them, but the sad thing in return is that they might not accept her for her in return. I would really like to get deeper into this family dynamic, because the surface has only been nipped, let alone scratched.

Dr. LeDong Makes Extremely Personal House Calls

So Stanley’s seriously got something to worry about, but he might not be alone in his fear. Dr. Maddison LeDong, P.H.D. made a special appearance at their school and managed to overhear Tony, Tea, and Michelle talking about Stanley and proceeded to follow Tea across town. As I said before, Marco probably took care of the dude by banishing him from town, but will that really keep that deranged lunatic from returning to collect Stan’s balls? I think not.

So what did you guys think of Tea’s episode? Did I miss anything you wanted to be touched upon? If so, I will include it in my review of Tea’s webisode and diary entries tomorrow. Make sure to watch the much controversial Chris episode next week, which is the episode that really has the PTC in a tizzy. If you are under 17, I BEG that you watch it with a parent. I can’t stretch that enough.

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