Skins

Season 1 Episode 2

Tea

0
Aired Monday 10:00 PM Jan 24, 2011 on MTV - Music Television
7.7
out of 10
User Rating
62 votes
4

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

EDIT
Tea struggles to tell her family about her sexuality as she becomes involved with a girl named Betty. Meanwhile, her father sets up Tea on a blind date with a boy and it ends up being one of her friends.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Tea

    7.2
    A really good installment, and I loved the fact that this episode wasn't a carbon copy of the original. Skins is actually coming it's own, at only episode 2. After the weak pilot episode, I didn't think that would happen.



    Tea became my favorite character instantly, as everyone else is just downright unlikable, she's the only one I can see anyone relating too. Her chemistry with Tony was impeccable, we got a good episode with great interactions.



    Everyone still pretty much annoys me though, I like how the US version is at least doing some things differently, and not just remaking the same thing. Good episode tonight.moreless
  • Tea meets her match on a blind date.

    6.0
    As sponsors continue to run for the hills, with everyone from David Carr to the Parents Television Council clucking their disapproval, Skins defiantly returned to MTV tonight with an episode that will likely do little to quell all the outrage. Amidst all the righteous indignation and discussions of what, exactly, constitutes kiddie porn, we've lost sight of what really matters: Skins is not very good. Last week, I reviewed the series, giving the pilot a 8. Since I'll be recapping the show from week to week, I thought I'd weigh-in just to help calibrate the scale a bit. Last week, my criticisms of the series were completely spot-on, but I think my final evaluation was too generous. I'll have to respectfully disagree with myslef and give it a 6. As I pointed out, the temptation of reviewing a show like Skins is just to compare it unfavorably to the original. But it's hard to evaluate something on its own terms when it doesn't even pretend to have them.



    Allow me to explain. I'm an admirer, though not a slavish devotee, of the UK series, and I'm notone of those kneejerk purists who reacts to any trans-Atlantic adaptation by grumbling about how Americans ruin everything. But I do think there's a right way and a wrong way to go about it. The pilot episode, a virtual shot-for-shot remake of the British original, proved that there is a good deal more to effective storytelling than plunking the camera down in the right place. The key to a successful remake is to hew faithfully to what made the original work, tweak the stuff that didn't, and adjust the cultural references accordingly. In its first episode, Skins got this formula almost entirely wrong. Inexplicably, the allusions to drum-and-bass parties were still there, but the charm was totally lost in translation.



    Now, it would be a mistake to be too reverent about the original, but it seems worthwhile to talk about why it is so beloved. Skins is hardly Citizen Kane; it's not even The Office. But it's a show that is, at turns, raunchy, funny, endearing, irreverent, dream-like, and whimsical. As in the U.S. version, each episode is told from the perspective of a single character-most often, though not always, a member of the same high school clique. This way, we get inside the head of each character, learn about their tumultuous family lives, and, finally, come to understand the root of all the teen angst. Skins is a serial, but each installment also works as a self-contained short film, and from one week to the next, the show dabbles in different genres. It's a risky formal experiment that works because, ultimately, the show is so empathetic to each kid and his or her story. This inventiveness is what makes UK Skins so enjoyable and also what makes it wildly uneven. Even within a single episode, the tone careens all over the place, from arch and highly stylized, to earnest and reflective. When it works, Skins is, as the Brits say, brilliant; even when it doesn't, it's highly entertaining. Indeed, part of the thrill is watching to see if they can pull it off. Key to the original's success is its remarkable cast, and the most evident flaw of MTV's Skins is the acting. Nearly every role has been miscast in some crucial way. As I accurately pointed out in last week's review, James Newman is all wrong as Tony, the show's central character. As played by Nicholas Hoult, English Tony is an over-sexed Eddie Haskell, able to butter-up parents and teachers with his angelic grin, all the while cruelly manipulating his friends and loved ones. As American Tony, Newman is all smarm, no charm. The real standout from the original is Hannah Murray, who plays Cassie, the pill-popping anorexic. She's sweet, dizzy, and tragic all at once. Her MTV counterpart, Britne Oldford, though lovely, is a monotone disaster. As the randy, drug-addled Chris, Jesse Carere posesses none of the odd charisma of Joseph Dempsie. There is one notable exception to the woeful miscasting, which brings me back to the task at hand. This week's episode follows Tea, a sexy lesbian cheerleader with a serious chip on her shoulder. As far as fictional sexy lesbian cheerleaders go, Tea is surprisingly three-dimensional. She's also the only character not imported from the original, so perhaps that's why she's also the most compelling so far. The episode begins as Tea sits in class, oozing glamorous ennui. A classmate, Betty, makes eyes at her from a few rows up, and Tea passes her a note which reads, simply: "Northern Soul." It's is either supremely bossy or needlessly cryptic, depending on how you look at it. In any case, Tea heads out to what appears to be an oldies dance party, Betty shows up decked-out in polka dots, and the night ends with the two passionately falling into bed together. The morning after their tryst, the girls run into Marco, Tea's father. It turns out that Betty is the daughter of a family friend, and he drags her into the kitchen to meet the rest of the clan. And so we're introduced to Tea's loud and chaotic extended family, including her senile grandmother, and discover that she's half-Italian, half-Jewish. Tea's bratty brother calls Daisy a lesbian, the first inkling we get that her sexuality wouldn't go over to well with the fam. Tea promises her dad she'll go on a date with a boy, the son of yet another family friend, as a favor. "Once in a while it's good for my dad if I date someone who knows someone," she explains to Daisy and Abbud. It's a strange thing for a teenage girl to say, but, in case you haven't figured it out, Tea's dad is all mobbed-up.



    Meanwhile, Tony convinces Cadie to pretend she and Stan have actually slept together. He claims the lie will help Stan's social standing, but it's really so that Tea will make good on her promise to flash her chest at the pep rally. You see, our Tony has an unrequited crush on Tea. So it's doubly ironic when it turns out Tony is the guy her father wanted her to go on a date with. The two spend the afternoon together, swilling vodka while spinning around on a carousel. Tea laughs off his questions about lesbian sex, then tells him about her fears of intimacy. "My dad threw his life away to be with my mom. I can't imagine feeling that way about anyone." Naturally, between all this talk of commitment-phobia and saphhic sex, Tony falls in love, Rivers Cuomo-style. Tea lures him to her favorite bar, and seduces him by shimmying around the floor in her Chuck Taylors. They fell into a sloppy-looking heap on the sofa, and just like that, their romp is over. Tea is not impressed with Tony. "That was terrible," she says.



    A heartbreaker in training, Tea is fascinated by her burgeoning sexual power, but also bored and frustrated by what it reaps. Betty turns out to be a closet case with a beard boyfriend, and Tony is, well, not a girl. As her grandmother lies in bed next to her, Tea voices her disappointment in a weird soliloquy. "Something's wrong with me, Nana. I want the sex. But the girls I sleep with bore me." Is this just bravado, or does Tea really feel so superior to her paramours?



    Either way, Tea can at least take comfort knowing that she's not alone. In her senile ramblings, Nana unknowingly divulges a secret from her own long-ago post: She had a lesbian relationship as a young woman during the Holocaust, and the memories still haunt her. It was an unexpected, and unexpectedly moving, narrative turn, but it wasn't quite enough to redeem the episode.



    Tea would be a tough role for an actress twice as old as young Sofia Black-D'Elia, so it's impressive she almost pulls off the feat. She's mostly convincing in the part, but in the end, the portrait of Tea doesn't really come together. It's hard to locate the source of the problem, exactly, but I'll try. Despite all the predictably annoying MTV flourishes, like a wall-to-wall pop soundtrack that makes you feel like you're living inside a Forever 21, Skins still feels sluggish. The dialogue at times is unbearably stilted, and not in a naturalistic, gee-aren't-teenagers-awkward kind of way. Too many lines either drift off into the ether or get drowned out entirely by the incessant musical cues.



    This episode represents an improvement on the pilot, but still, there's a sloppiness to the whole affair that is galling. The scene between Tea and Tony at the bus stop, for instance, feels like an out-take. Referring to the girl he brought along as a back-up on their date, Tony jokes, "No, you're as communication as she is." Say what? I actually rewound this part a good half-dozen times to be sure I'd heard him correctly, and I'm still hoping I heard it wrong, but I don't think I did. Were the producers just desperate to get this scene in the can before they ran out of film, or was it actually written this way? Then there's the line Tony tries to woo Tea with at the end of the episode: "I matched you. I matched you good." As 30 seconds of Teen Mom will attest, teenagers are rarely the most articulate bunch, especially when it comes to talking about their feelings. Still, can't we give them something to aspire to other than a hangover?moreless
  • A major improvement over the pilot.

    8.5
    The reason why the pilot sucked so much is that it took off from material that has already been done, and the source material wasn't even very good to begin with. But with the 2nd episode of the US version of SKINS, the program is definitely headed in a different direction than its UK counterpart, and along with it has actually brought a compelling, interesting, and thoughtful storyline.



    Tea is the complete opposite of what you would expect from a lesbian teenager. She is indescribable in a sense, but by the end of this episode you will find to have compassion and sympathy for the character of Tea.



    Let's hope the series remains this strong here on out.moreless
  • Tea goes to a lesbian nightclub and ends up sleeping with Betty, a girl from Tea's school who had shown interest in Tea. While Tea considers it just a one-night stand and just wants sex, Betty wants more.moreless

    10
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Lori Anne Alter

Lori Anne Alter

Ruthie Marvelli

Guest Star

Devon Cohen

Devon Cohen

Lior

Guest Star

Greg Ellwand

Greg Ellwand

Mad Mao Le Dong

Guest Star

Paulino Nunes

Paulino Nunes

Marco Marvelli

Recurring Role

Blain Morris

Blain Morris

Betty Nardone

Recurring Role

David Reale

David Reale

Dave

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Tea says that her family doesn't believe her when she says she's a lesbian. This is very similar to the complaints of the character Emily in the UK version (particularly season 3) where Emily's twin sister and parents also don't believe she's a lesbian.

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (1)

    • Music
      3D Friends - "Lina Magic"
      Emily Warren & The Betters - "Not at All"
      North Highlands - "Hiking"
      Randa & The Soul Kingdom - "Not Gonna Let You"
      Dark Fellow - "Huron Impromptu, AD. 1903"
      Segal - "Gloaming the Plain"
      Deathproof Boys - "T.R.U.S.T. ft Arca"
      Bear Hands - "Belongings"
      Sherlock's Daughter - "Kids"
      Bear in Heaven - "Drug a Wheel"
      Pepper Rabbit - "Song for a Pump Organ"
      Mumdance - "Don't Forget Me Now"
      Bear Hands - "Crime Pays"

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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