Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Skins (MTV) "Tea": Lavender Dancer

When they switched out Maxie in the original UK version with Tea, there naturally could be heard a few cries of "Why?" and it's perhaps the scene between Tony and Tea here that is the reasoning.

Fittingly enough, this week's episode of the Brit-to-US satire Episodes dealt with a similar issue -- changing the sexual orientation of the character to better fit the US market. Whereas Matt LeBlanc argues, legitimately, that the 'I want the I can't have' storyline won't have legs much beyond a season, with Skins it's likely the US market's stomach for intimate scenes involving guy-on-guy. Girl-on-girl, conversely, is fetishized, especially in the post-mooks & midriffs age of MTV.

That's the bad reason. The good reason for the change is that Sofia Black-D'Elia is a star in the making, and since she didn't fit the mold for either of the other vital female roles, one had to be made for her. As such, the Tea character is already a much bigger role that Maxie ever was, and if there's a concession for the hetero-driven first reason, having a gay character in a much larger role (especially one played by the talent of Black-D'Elia) makes for a favorable trade-off.

When it was revealed that our dancing Maxie would be a cheerleader, I feared we'd miss out on all the dancing, but in this Tea-centric episode, we managed to get plenty of dancing (including the one with Tony to Mumdance's "Don't Forget Me Now"), so the spirit of Maxie, in that regard, is still alive -- if watered down a bit. Of course, the point might all be moot, thanks to indifference from the viewing public. Episode 2 saw a huge decrease in the ratings, even though the quality was a marked improvement over the shot-for-shot remake of the original's opening ("Tony").

Fascinating, if somewhat forced, incorporation of The Lavender Scare into the proceedings through Tea's Nana. The Cold War-era witch hunt that went largely unnoticed alongside the much more publicized Red Scare. David K. Johnson's 2004 book (The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government) has hopscotched in and out of my queue at the library, but maybe it's time to finally check it out (or, more likely, get it on my Kindle).

Playlist: Skins (US) - Episode 1.02
1. "Not At All" - Emily Warren [download]
2. "Hiking" - North Highlands [download]
3. "Not Gonna Let You" - Randa & The Soul Kingdom [download]
4. "Huron Impromptu, AD. 1903" - Dark Fellow
5. "Belongings" - Bear Hands [download]
6. "Kids" - Sherlock's Daughter (vimeo)
7. "Drug A Wheel" - Bear in Heaven [download]
8. "Song For A Pump Organ" - Pepper Rabbit [download]
9. "Don't Forget Me Now" - Mumdance ft. Esser [download]
10. "Crime Pays" Bear Hands [download]

Previously: "Tony" (MTV Ep1.01)

1 comment:

Tawnya said...

This is superb. Thanks for showing me that people actually appreciate how great this episode and Black-D'Elia are.