Thursday, March 25, 2010

Skins Season 4 finale – A happy ending to an awfully bad season

To say the season finale of Skins wasn't very good is an understatement.

It was a badly written, unbelievable, random and rushed ending to an already badly written, unbelievable, random season, so at least in that way it was very fitting.

Perhaps the writers got lazy, perhaps 8 episodes just isn't enough to tell any stories properly or perhaps I'm just old and I expect too much from a teen drama.

Whatever the case may be, I thought the season finale was bad. The only good thing about it was Naomi's speech at the end, but even that was ruined a little by it coming totally out of the blue, which didn't help believability.

Previously on Skins: Emily moved in with Naomi and then she found out Naomi had been cheating on her with Sophia, who ended up committing suicide. Then Emily got back at Naomi by doing some drugs and making out with a random girl at a BBQ they were throwing. As if that wasn't enough, Emily started seeing another girl, all the while the two of them continued to live together and pretended nothing is wrong.

So what exactly happened in the season finale? A lot of storylines, regardless of how meaningful or plausible, needed to be finished. If you think that means things get resolved or are explained, think again.

Everything just gets wrapped up really nicely and the writers try to fool us they all live happily ever after, even though we all know if there's one thing those Skins kids are not, is happy.

The episode starts with Emily waking up next to Mandy, the girl she was on a date with last episode. Uhoh. Emily doesn't seem too happy about it.

Meanwhile, Thomas is busy running, we see Cook shagging someone, Katie is visiting Effy in the mental institution and Panda is being chased by two psychiatric nurses while she's on a jumping ball. Why? Because it's Skins and nothing ever makes sense. It is very amusing though:

Back at Naomi's, Emily is still trying to figure out what happened between her and the girl in bed with her, when Naomi comes home. She bursts into the bedroom and starts chatting excitedly about how she bought eggs. Emily is just standing there looking worried, waiting for the moment Naomi finds out there's a strange girl in their bed.

Turns out Naomi isn't surprised at all, and the reason Emily and Mandy were in bed together was because they were too drunk and Naomi slept on the coach.

Naomi then goes to look at Mandy's breasts and declares it's a shame she's straight and asks Emily, "Is this bad?" I don't know what exactly she's referring to, but YES, this scene (and plot line) is indeed very bad, I don't even know where to start.

Almost as bad is the next scene in which we have to watch Panda sing a song for Effy for at least 3 minutes. Dear writers, you couldn't have used these minutes to actually try and tell a story?

I'm starting to think things can't possibly get any worse, but I shouldn't have let that thought out, because next we see Cook and Naomi in Naomi's kitchen listening to Cook's hook up being very loud on the toilet. WTF?!

Upstairs Emily and Mandy are talking about what's going on between them, and of course, they have to do this semi-naked. Emily is saying nothing is really going on and Mandy disagrees and tries to seduce Emily, saying she'd take her to Mexico and,  "make love to her on the beach."

Too bad they chose the world's worst actress for this role, as she delivers all of her lines without any kind of emotion. In fact, I don't think she's even capable of any facial expressions, other than indifference.

Then way too much of the season finale is wasted by a boring scene at Naomi's house. For some reason, almost the entire Skins cast is there (convenience?). They are all sitting around not enjoying themselves and Naomi is trying to get everyone drunk even though it is still morning.

No one wants any drinks, but Naomi does and she proceeds to get totally drunk. Then she wants to have fun and ends up dancing with Mandy, while Emily is just sitting there. Naomi just keeps on talking crap and eventually Emily thinks it's enough and runs off crying. Meanwhile, Mandy makes a move on Naomi. WTF?!

At night, Naomi and Emily are in bed together. Emily tells Naomi "I love you," to which Naomi replies, "Don't lie." Ouch. Naomi then gets out of bed and puts some clothes on. "My mom is coming back next week, maybe you should go," Naomi declares, and walks out of the bedroom. Double ouch.

Don't these girls every talk? You know, more than making accusations or declarations. Things aren't looking very good and we only have half an episode left for them to live happily ever after.

Before this happens we are treated to a number of ridiculous scenes. The police arrive en force to arrest Cook, but he escapes through the window. He decides to hide in Freddie's shed, where for no particular reason pretty much all of the Skins cast show up. Instead of worrying what might have happened to Freddie, they decide to have a party instead.

Not just any party, no they actually do choreographed dance moves. WTF?!

Meanwhile Naomi is home alone and on the phone to her mother. I think this screenshot literally sums up the Skins stories: What a mess.

Back at the party in Freddie's shed the most unbelievable, yet very welcome, plotline unfolds. Naomi shows up to give the speech of the season to Emily:

I loved you from the first moment I saw you. I think I was 12. It took me 3 years to pluck up the courage to speak to you. I was so scared of the way I felt, you know, loving a girl. So I learned how to be a sarcastic bitch to make me feel normal.

I screwed guys to make it go away, but it didn't work. When we got together it scared the shit out of me, because you were the one person that could ruin my life.

I pushed you away, made you think things were your fault, but really, I was just terrified of pain. I screwed that girl, Sophia, to kind of spite you for having that hold on me. And I'm a total F-ing coward, because I got these…these tickets to Goa for us 3 months ago. I didn't want to be a slave to the way I feel about you.

Can you understand? You were trying to punish me back, and it's horrible. It's so horrible, because really, I'd die for you. I love you. I love you so much, it's killing me.

Wow. I'm impressed, so is Emily. They cry and kiss and live happily ever after. Well, I think that's pretty much the idea. A bit out of the blue and an easy fix to their storyline, but a happy end is a happy end. Right?!

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That's it for Skins and Naomily. So what do you think? Are you as critical of the storylines as me or are you just happy Naomily got their happy ending?.

This post was first published on eurout.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Skins Season 4 recap – Episodes 6 and 7: Searching for Naomily in a messed up Skins world

Episode 6 and 7 of Skins saw some happy times and very messed up storytelling respectively. Emily and Naomi, however, were hardly there at all.

Previously on Skins: Emily moved in with Naomi and then she found out Naomi had been cheating on her with Sophia, who ended up committing suicide. Then Emily got back at Naomi by doing some drugs and making out with a random girl at a BBQ they were throwing.

Episode 6: JJ

Unlike many of the previous episodes, I really enjoyed watching the JJ episode. This is probably because I actually like his quirky, nerdy character. JJ is just soooo weird!

But compared to most of the Skins characters, he's pretty normal. At least, he is a decent human being who doesn't spend all his time drinking, doing drugs and having random sex. Is my age showing?

In this episode JJ finds himself a girlfriend. Of course, JJ being JJ, the whole process of landing the girl is full of embarrassing, unbelievably stupid, yet very cute events.

When he is out on his date with Lara in the pub, he bumps into Emily, who is there with some strange girl, who she introduces, just like JJ does with his date, as "my friend".

Hang on a second. So Emily has gone from drunkenly kissing some random girl to make Naomi jealous to, what, dating other girls? Good to see she doesn't need much time to get over her relationship with Naomi.

Once JJ and Lara become an item, he decides he should introduce her to his friends. He comes up with the great idea to go for a visit at Naomi and Emily's. Obviously, things are rather strained and uncomfortable.

When JJ wants to bring up seeing Emily at the pub the other day, she shuts him up and drags him to the bedroom to tell him not to say anything.

Apparently, she was on a date, but she doesn't know what she's doing and Naomi doesn't know a thing about it. I'm confused. So Emily is dating other girls, but she's still living with Naomi and they haven't even broken up yet?

We don't really see Emily or Naomi anymore for the rest of the episode, and the focus is mainly on JJ. The episode ends with him trying to win Lara over by serenading outside her window. This could be kind of cute, if not for the fact he brought an entire Ukulele ensemble and he's singing Spandau Ballet's Gold. WTF?!

Episode 7: Effy

Episode 6 might have been one of my favourite episodes, in contrast, episode 7 was definitely the one that made Skins lose all credibility for me.

Why? Because I can live with a Skins world that's full of teenagers and adults that don't have a care in the world and are busy pretending to have fun while they mess up again and again. What bugs me is when writers just make up totally unbelievable over the top storylines for no good reason.

I wonder what the writers were thinking when they wrote the Effy storyline. All I can say is, I could've done without. At first I didn't mind so much. Effy is obviously troubled, it was bound to get out of control, so it's great to see she's getting some help. I have no idea though, why they decided to give her a crazy, psycho, murderous therapist. 

Yes, you read that correctly: murderous. Effy's therapist has some very unusual ways (and unbelievable, for that matter) to help Effy get better, which involve her just pretending nothing bad ever happened to her.

He then convinces her to get rid of her friends, her boyfriend, and all her stuff. It gets to the point where she has no more memories and doesn't even know who she is anymore.

Hello! Skins is a drama, not sci-fi. You can't just make someone forget everything, no matter how troubled they are. I wish they just left it at that, but no, they had to take it one step further.

Effy decides she no longer wants therapy from the guy and has Freddie tell him to leave her alone.

The next morning Freddie is called by the therapist who wants to meet him at his house. When Freddie arrives there he starts to explain to Freddie it's important he continue to treat Effy.

When Freddie disagrees and wants to leave, the therapist smashes his skull with a baseball bat. I don't really have the words to describe this plotline, other than with another WTF?!

In case you might think things looked worse than they really are, the Skins website leaves no doubt, as they've actually put up a condolence book for Freddie. Once again; WTF?!

As for Naomily, we only get to see them in two small scenes. In the first one, Naomi goes to see Effy to say things are not going well with Emily and to see what a crazy person looks like, to check if she's going crazy herself.

The other scene is when the gang is celebrating their A level results at a pub and are calling out their results one by one. Unfortunately, that's all we get to see of them.

Next time on Skins: Emily and Naomi are lying in bed. Emily is saying "I love you" to which Naomi replies, "Don't lie". Sounds like another fun episode.

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This post was first published on eurout.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lists are hot: 10 Dead TV and movie lesBians

Lists Are Hot is a monthly column for all those that love lists. This time I want to talk about some of the lovely queer TV and movie characters that were killed off.

Over the years, we have seen so many TV and movie lesBians die on our TV and movie screens, that I thought they were worthy of being compiled in a list. And not just because there were enough of them.

Lesbians have died in series and movies like High art, Mulholland drive, the Fox, Basic Instinct, Hollyoaks, If these walls could talk 2, Mädchen in Uniform, Xena, Hex, Dark Angel, Watchmen, Babylon 5, Skins, Los hombres de Paco, Bufy the Vampire slayer and the L word.

Some of my favourite characters, unfortunately, belong in the "dead lesbian" category. Besides, there's something intriguing about looking into all of these death scenes. At least I think so, but then I have always been a little morbid.

In no particular order, here are some of the lesbian characters that died over the years.

10. Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (US, 2002)

When thinking of dead TV lesbians, one of the first that comes to mind is Tara from one of my favourite TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Tara was introduced in Season 4 as Willow's love interest. They met at uni, did magic and other witch stuff together and ended up falling madly in love with each other.

It was a beautiful love story, even though much of that story was told in metaphors rather than the showing of actual physical contact between the two characters.

In Season 5 Tara was killed by a gunshot wound, just after Willow and Tara had made up and were going to live happily ever after. Watch the video below for a nice summary of the Willow and Tara relationship.

 

9. Paulie in Lost and Delirious (US, 2001)

Lost and Delirious is one of those movies featuring a very cute lesbian relationship, that you should just watch halfway through and then turn off before things start to get really bad.

Paulie and Tori are sharing a dorm at boarding school and are very much in love. Things are pretty great for a while until everyone finds out about their relationship and Tori decides to break up with Paulie.

To say Paulie doesn't take it too well is an under statement, as she ends up committing suicide by throwing herself off the school building.

8. Sarah on Hollyoaks (UK, 2009)

Things aren't much better when it comes to European productions. Last year on UK daily soap Hollyoaks, Sarah's storyline came to an end when after she and Lydia broke up, Lydia turned into a psycho stalking ex-girlfriend who ended up killing Sarah by sabotaging her parachute.

Granted, the actress playing Sarah had announced she wanted to leave the show, but there was really no need to go that route.

Then again, it was a suitably bad and cringe worthy ending to an already bad and cringe worthy storyline. Watch Sarah drop dead in the video below (don't worry, it's not that gruesome).

 

7. Irene in The fine art of love (Italy/Czech Republic, 2005)

The Hollyoaks storyline is nothing compared to what happens in The fine art of love, aka the worst and most disturbing (lesbian) movie ever. In this film, young girls Irene and Hildalla fall in love, but because they are trapped in a fairytale/horror movie, things cannot last and Irene ends up hanging herself or is being hung – it is never quite explained.

Do you believe me when I tell you this death of Irene isn't even the worst thing that happens? You wouldn't think so from this video, but it's a creepy movie, trust me.

 

6. Admiral Cain and her Cylon girlfriend Gina on Battlestar Galactica (US, 2007)

I love Battlestar Galactica and I remember being really excited when I found out there would be a lesbian relationship on the Razor movie. Of course, it being BSG where awful things happen all the time, I shouldn't have been surprised their relationship wasn't a happy one. When Admiral Helena Cain finds out her girlfriend Gina is a Cylon, she has her arrested and tortured.

Gina later takes revenge on her by shooting her and in a later episode she commits suicide. It doesn't get much worse than that.

 

5. Lotte in Auf der andere Seite (Germany, 2007)

Auf der andere Seite (the edge of Heaven) tells the story of Ayten, a Turkish girl who meets Lotte, a lovely German do-gooder, who after discovering Ayten has no money or a place to stay, offers her to move in with her and her mother.

Quickly a strong bond forms between Lotte and Ayten and the two of them embark on a relationship. Then Ayten is arrested and deported back to Turkey where she ends up in prison.

When Lotte follows her to Turkey to rescue her, she ends up getting shot in the most trivial kind of ways.

4. Virginie in Le cahier volé (France, 1993)

Another European movie where a lesbian relationship ends with one of them dying, is Le cahier volé (The stolen diary). In this film, both Jacques and Anne are in love with the same girl, Virginie, but Anne ends up having a relationship with her.

Jacques is filled with jealousy and when he finds Virginie's diary, he decides to make himself feel better by sharing her stories with the whole town.

Virginie ends up committing suicide by hanging herself at school. Watch Virginie and Anne in happier times:

 

3. Sandy on ER (US, 2004)

In Season 8 of hospital series ER, doctor Kerrie Weaver gets herself a hot fire fighter girlfriend named Sandy. After being very reluctant at first, Kerrie finally is ready to be out and proud and live happily ever after with Sandy. Of course, that's when Sandy gets killed in a fire. Not as dramatic as some of the other storylines, but still very disappointing.

For once, I want the lesbian character to get the girl and be able to keep her too. You know, the storyline should've ended where this video does.

 

2. Dana on the L word (US, 2006)

Like almost all lesBians I know, I watched the L word faithfully, despite my growing dislike for the show during the course of the seasons. However, in the beginning it was all just good, fun watching, until in Season 3 one of my favourite characters, Dana, died of breast cancer.

Granted, as far as dead lesbian storylines go, this is one of the more original ones, although many years later we still wonder why she had to die.

This in contrast to other characters, like Jenny, who no one really cared about. Beloved characters just shouldn't die.

1. Silvia on Los Hombres de Paco (Spain, 2009)

Speaking of beloved characters, there could only be one dead lesbian at number one. Silvia on Los hombres de Paco might not have been my all time favourite TV lesbian, but I loved her and Pepa's love story, and I am still not over the horrible, gruesome way they killed her off.

I think I have talked about it enough over the last few months, but let me just repeat that getting shot on your wedding day and bleeding to dead for 45 minutes with your wife's hands in your abdomen, is not the way to let a character leave the show.

Let's remember Silvia in happier times:

 

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This post was first published on eurout.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Skins Season 4 recap – Episode 5: Freddie

Episode 5 of Skins focused on the destructive downward spiral that is the Freddie and Effy relationship.

Previously on Skins: Emily moved in with Naomi and then she found out Naomi had been cheating on her with Sophia, who ended up committing suicide. Then Emily got back at Naomi by doing some drugs and making out with a random girl at a BBQ they were throwing.

This episode of Skins was all about Freddie and Effy. For most of the episode we see them either doing drugs or worrying about how hard life is. All the while they do seem to genuinely love each other, but it's just all so destructive and their life feels so empty. Empty of real, positive, meaningful…anything, besides their feelings for one another.

As if this isn't depressing enough to watch, we slowly see Effy falling apart. Never the most happy or together person, Season 4 of Skins shows Effy as a very depressed, confused and (probably) psychotic girl.

It just gets worse and worse by the minute. Freddie does the best he can, but he's just a 17-year-old and all his well meant solutions, do not really take away Effy's problems.

We see Freddie kick the partygoers out of her house when it gets too much for Effy, then offers her a joint. Luckily, he gets a little smarter later on and gives Effy a bath and takes her to the park.

But when she starts mumbling about how 'they' are coming for her and is convinced the people walking towards them mean her harm, you know Freddie is a little out of his league.

He finally takes her to see his grandfather for help, but they leave her alone in the bathroom and she ends up slitting her wrists. They get her to the hospital in time and she is going to be fine, at least physically. I think it will be a while before we she Effy living a 'normal' life again.

Instead of being happy with all that Freddie's done for her, she tells him to go away. And he does. He goes back to her house and takes all the 'crazy' pictures from her walls and burns them in the back garden.

He's broken and crying and all of a sudden Cook is there to comfort him. There might be a lot of things worng with him, but Cook does know how to be there for a friend in need.

Unfortunately, Emily and Naomi didn't have a storyline this week. In fact, I couldn't even spot either of them in the entire episode. Not even in the weird carnival parade scene, unless I missed them (Someone please let me know if they were there). And it looks like next episode won't be any better.

Next time on Skins: Episode 6 is all about JJ and neither Emily or Naomi were anywhere in sight in next week's preview.

this post was first published on eurout.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Check out the awesome new Lambda Literary website

Lambda Literary Foundation from Word Is Up on Vimeo.

Studying LesBians: the Journal of Lesbian studies looks into lesbian youth

Studying LesBians is a monthly column that discusses current and not so current research about lesbians and bisexual women. This month I want to talk about the Journal of Lesbian studies.

Did you have any idea such a scientific journal existed? Neither did I, but when Saskia pointed it out to me a while back it got me really excited. Yes, I'm a research geek, so finding out there's actually an entire journal devoted only to research on lesbians is pretty much a highlight for me.

Not only that, but the lazy part of me also loves the fact that now all kinds of research about lesbians can be found in one place. This also means there's enough research being done on us that it's worth it to devote an entire journal to it, which I think is great.

If you are curious just what exactly researchers around the world are busy spending their hard earned research funding on these days, let me take you through some of the articles from the January issue of the Journal of Lesbian studies.

Don't worry, I will just give you the highlights without getting too much into boring research talk, but hopefully with enough detail to keep you fellow geeks happy as well.

The January issue was a special issue, meaning it focused on one specific theme, namely lesbian youth. I think it's a great topic to devote attention to, as it is often when we are young and are just finding out we are into women, the most troubling but also the most interesting developments take place.

In addition, the fact that they even chose this topic means that these days there are enough lesbian youngsters to research and question, which of course is a great development.

So what kind of topics are researchers looking at when it comes to being young and lesBian? One article focused on the formation of a lesbian identity in adolescence, their main point being that this process is different from that of straight or gay male peers and cannot quite be explained by current models of sexual identity development.

The latter finding is not very surprising, as for a long time research into lesbian sexual identity just wasn't a high priority for researchers. I am happy to see this is starting to change.

Another article focused on career and work choices of lesbian youth in Australia, especially the impact of young women coming out. Their main finding, which I thought was rather obvious, was that the climate at work and especially how positive/negative your social interactions are, affects how open you are at work and to the world at large about being gay.

Of course, a journal issue about lesbian youth wouldn't be complete with at least one study about the health risks of young women who have sex with other women.

They asked 137 young women about their sexual behaviours and substance use and found high prevalence numbers of just about everything (un-safe sex, pregnancy, smoking, binge drinking), but numbers are misleading as they only looked at women who were sexually active at the time.

Finally, they included a funny article about what lesbians and bisexual girls get up to on MySpace. I say funny, because they actually seriously analysed different MySpace groups to see what exactly is being discussed.

It reads like the researcher isn't really up to date with social media sites, especially when you think about the fact that no one really uses MySpace anymore. Right?

They do make some good points about the role and importance of social media sites for queer women these days. It makes it so much easier to meet like minded women and to explore one's identity than it was in the olden pre-internet age.

In sum, I think some really interesting research is being conducted on lesBian youth that will hopefully provide enough knowledge, so that in the future health professionals, teachers, councillors etcetera will better know what it means to be a young lesBian and to provide the help and support needed.

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What do you make of the research on lesbian youth? Do you think it's useful or not at all?

This post was first published on eurout.