Thursday, 14 October 2010

Skins - Lies, all lies.

Skins: 2x02 Sketch.


There is something very daring in introducing a completely new character only one episode into the second season. I can’t help but compare this to Sophia, and how her presence in season four, although it was so elusive and ghost-like, shaped the entire season (Naomi's guilt and Cook’s responsibility, Naomi and Emily breaking up, her death, in a way, foreshadowing Freddie’s).
Sketch ties in nicely with the single-mindedness. There is only a small step between being pre-occupied with someone and being obsessed, and Sketch is, of course, completely obsessed with Maxxie. She stalks him. She takes pictures of him. She collects bits and pieces of him. We can assume that Sophia only started this after actually sleeping with Naomi, and this also completely counters anybody’s thesis that Emily ever stalked Naomi. Emily was persistent, but she clearly wasn’t a stalker. She didn’t secretly take pictures of Naomi. She didn’t secretly follow her. She actually didn’t do anything in secret, except pine for her.

There is something different about Sketch, being trapped there in the dark apartment and all her responsibilities as the only daughter of a disabled mother. Compared to everybody else on the show, she is expected to be a grown-up. Her mother needs her to be a grown-up. There is an incredible burden in being forced to be an adult too early, and it traps her – and we’ve already seen how badly adults handle disability in “Tony and Maxxie”, how infinitely more difficult this must be for Sketch.
Sketch pretends. She pretends that Maxxie is her boyfriend. She pretends that she is the star of the musical, while instead she is quite literally the person who puts the stars of the musical into the light. In a way, she is an outlet for the viewers: she imagines herself into the lives of the people we’ve followed this past season, because the life she has is bleak and dreary.
Sketch is a tragic character (and, along with Sophia and Mandy, the least liked character on “Skins”), but she is also scary, and I am always endlessly amazed how well Aimee-Ffion Edwards portrays her. Whenever I watch “Buffy”, I take a moment to remember what a closed group the Scoobies are. Despite their loveliness, they are also exclusive, and sometimes, the people who try to get in but are left out because they somehow lack what it takes to belong end up either evil or dead. In a way, the first generation of “Skins” resembles the Scoobies: Sketch is introduced late into the run of the show and she will never be part of the group – and in the very end of this season, she will be stuck back in Bristol with no way out, and even though she tells herself that it’s okay to stay behind, for her, it really isn’t.

“Skins” exercises this idea of being obsessed with someone, of having a character who is essentially only about a different character (“I met a girl I liked today”), a lot over its four season run but “Sketch” is the entire story in only one episode. She breaks into Maxxie’s apartment. She masturbates on his bed. She spends the night under his bed when he comes home. She recounts every single step of his morning routine because she’s watched it hundred of times from the apartment across.
Eventually, the only way to finally achieve her dream, the kiss that will change everything and make Maxxie love her, is to lie. She accuses Bruce, the drama teacher, of touching her inappropriately (which he actually deserves, considering what he did to Michelle). This earns her an entrance into the closed circle of friends: Michelle introduces her to the others, “allows” her to have lunch with them (Jal: “Michelle’s got a new friend then.”). At this point, none of them know what she is doing to Maxxie, and still they are as unwelcoming as possible. Maxxie sees a giant, stalkery camera in her bag and matches the barrette he found in his room with the one she is still wearing, and all of a sudden realizes who has been following every time he felt observed.
When everything falls apart; when her mum figures out that Maxxie is not Sketch’s boyfriend, that she lied about being molested – when Sketch feels existentially threatened, she strikes back. The frustration about being left alone in the task to take care of her mum comes to the surface (“You didn’t bring me up at all”). She ties her mother to the bed, gives the painkillers to Michelle in order to knock her out, and takes her place in the musical.

Maxxie: “Who the fuck are you?”
Sketch: “Do you believe in magic Maxxie? When we kiss. When we kiss…”
Maxxie: “I’m gay. Do you understand that?”
Sketch: “Look at me. I’m as close to a boy as you can get. You could love me. We could love each other.”
Maxxie: “You’re fucking crazy.”
Sophia’s suicide wasn’t really about Naomi. There is only her Unseen to give us a bit of insight into her character but everything in her life has fallen apart – all her relationships are dysfunctional, and she is stuck in a place where she is painfully unhappy. Sketch sees Maxxie as a kind of deus ex machina out of the life she is leading now – but once they kiss, the idea that everything will change falls apart. Maxxie says “Nothing. I felt nothing. Disgusting.”

As Sketch is humiliated, as she loses the last bit of hope, Cat Power sings “Hate”:
Anyone can tell you there’s no more road to ride
everyone will tell you there’s no place to hide
there’s no laws or rules to enchain your life
but the ones who didn’t make it,
the ones who couldn’t take it,
so glad they made it out alive
everyone loves the fun
everyone comes by.
The thing is: Sketch is resourceful. She settles for less. She throws stones at Anwar’s windows and settles for the person who is closest to Maxxie, instead of doing something more dramatic, and in a way, that makes her the hero of this story.

Tony and Michelle
Tony: “She [Abigail] says I’m her boyfriend.”
Michelle: “You’re not Tony anymore, are you?”
Tony: “Yeah, I’m Tony.”
Michelle: “OK, on the day of the accident you were on the phone with me. Tell me what you said.”
Tony: “The doctors told me some things would take a while to come back.”
Michelle: “OK. Let’s bring you back.”
And she kisses him, and believes she’ll work a miracle, and undresses, and nothing happens. He can’t. And then she’s embarrassed, and confused.
Michelle. “Oh. You’re not.”
Tony: “No. I’m not. I’ve got to go.”
One of the things people with loved ones who suffered a haemorrhage have to accept is that miracles don’t happen. Progress comes slowly, and takes a lot of work. At this point, Michelle thinks that she only has to find the one magic trick and then Tony as he used to be will come back, but that’s not how it works. 
Sketch: “Not worth it, are they?”
Michelle: “Who the fuck are you?”
Sketch: “How come boys can do that to us. Make us feel like shit?”
Michelle: “He didn’t. You don’t understand. It’s difficult for him now. Us now.”
Sketch: “But do you remember what it was like to kiss him for the first time? The magic moment when everything changed?”
There is so much in this one little scene. Wise words coming from strangers who you didn’t know before. Michelle still thinking of Tony and her as “us”. And of course Sketch is right, just that her magic moment hasn’t happened yet / has only happened in her fantasy, and when she actually forces Maxxie to kiss her, it goes horribly wrong. Sketch doesn’t get her fairy tale, but Tony and Michelle get their little moment of reconciliation, a first step (which is very “can we just sit here for a bit”)
Tony: “I told you I loved you, didn’t I, the day it happened?”
Michelle: “Do you actually remember or is that a guess?”
Tony: “Does it matter? It doesn’t change anything.”
Michelle: “No.”
Tony: “Should I say something else now?”
Michelle: “No. Let’s just say nothing for a bit.”
Random notes:

Yes, I possibly secretly like Sketch more than about 98 per cent of people who watch "Skins". Also, Sophia, but that's old news.

For the record:  most of the music used in this episode is directly from the year I started to listen to music, so I might have overseen some errors while grinning stupidly. The Kills! Black Rebel Motorcycle Club! Earlier Muse!

Before watching the episode, I completely forgot the ridiculous and horribly inappropriate director of the musical.

Bruce: “Acting is about truth. Truth is about beauty. Ugly people lack believability. Now how can I put this kindly? You look like a liar.”

DOUG takes over for Bruce. I believe someone mentioned that he is currently shooting season five; that makes me incredibly happy.

Doug: “My mother was right. Do science. Do science. Science makes sense. But the lights drew me. Like a moth to a flame”.

Naturally I evoked the Buffy-reference in relation to Sketch and hesitated to point out how “Osama – The Musical” IS exactly the kind of musical episode you’d expect from a show like “Skins”, just as “Once More With Feeling” is exactly the kind of musical you’d expect from Joss Whedon.

What is it with stalkers and lockers? Sketch hides in one, Sophia leaves all her secrets there. I could not think of a less private place than a school locker.

The costumes used in this episode were re-used for a season four Skins Unseen featuring JJ and Thomas (to get a job at a cinema, they had to solve everyday cinema-related problems in character).

Sketch, of course, is dressed as Hannibal Lecter.

Chris: “Driving Miss Daisy, Best Picture Oscar, 1990. And this is my man, who is…”
Kenneth: “Morgan Freeman.”
Chris: “No! How many times have I gotta tell you? You’re Hoke. Yeah? Actor, Freeman, part, Hoke. You don’t know the first thing about films, do you, Kenneth?”
Sid: “Um, and how many films have you seen, Chris?”
Chris: “What? Counting porn?”
Sid: “Well, no.”
Chris: “One. Driving Miss Daisy. It’s a classic. Interestingly, they made a porn version of that film. It was called Fisting Miss Daisy. It was a really good film, actually. Really stood up to the original. It was phenomenal.

Sketch can break locks with her barrette. Sophia got OWNED.

Chris: “Drama teachers man. Pretend to be a tree. But I’m not a tree. Well pretend. Fucking perverts, the lot of ‘em”.

Anwar: “I never get as far as About A Boy”

No comments: