MTV’s Skins USA Apparently Awesome, “Tea” Apparently Awesomest Lesbian Character Ever

The first round of critics/bloggers/writers have seen the first four episodes of MTV’s Skins USA, a new spin on the groundbreaking original UK series, which debuts January 17th, — and they like it. They like it a lot.

AfterEllen’s Skins Scholar Heather Hogan says the show will not disappoint:

US Skins is a blaze of heat and heart, a skilled harmony of pathos and peculiarity. It does its predecessor proud.

Furthermore, our lesbian character, Tea (in the UK original, the homogay for Seasons 1 and 2 was Maxxie, a boy, but they did a gender-swap for the MTV version which totally annoys everyone in the world except for us, for whom a lesbian replacing a gay male character is probably the third-best thing that could ever happen to every show on earth, after “a lesbian replacing a straight male” and “a lesbian replacing a straight female” because you know we love straight people and all, but we are insane about lesbian characters, I mean duh, there’s basically an entire website dedicated to tracking the two-minute appearances of said lesbian characters and it’s called, which brings us back to where I began, which is that Heather Hogan has seen the first few episodes of Skins USA and she liked it. I should get out of this parenthetical statement and get this show more valiantly on the road) is the awesomest lesbian character ever:

In typical Skins fashion, Tea’s episode (the second episode of the season) is warm and sexy and real, with just a hint of trademark absurdity. (And in typical Skins-lesbian fashion, the camera loves Black-D’Elia.)

I think I’ve watched every episode of every show that has ever featured a lesbian or bisexual character. I’m so familiar with queer TV tropes I could write a thesis on them in my sleep. But “Tea” is unlike anything I’ve ever seen on American television. Her story tickled my heart and cuddled my brain — and then it punched me right in the gut.

Don’t let the pile of nakedness distract you: Tea is everything you hoped for, and nothing like what you’re expecting. “You want to know what we do, right?” she asks Tony. “What goes where? Who licks what? So tedious. I screw girls! So what?”

So what? is so right. One of the most brilliant things about Skins is that its gay characters are always so much more than what goes where and who licks what.

Mark O. Estes at TV Overmind echoes Heather’s praise:

One character to look out for is the lesbian cheerleader Tea, who is portrayed by Sofia Black D’Elia. The most original character out of the entire cast, Tea’s inclusion helps create the diverging line from the U.K. series in terms of unique material for the show. If I say anymore, I could possibly ruin how much she rocks on the show.


At The Huffington Post, Tina Wells admits that she was hesitant to like Skins USA, but ultimately, “Skins wins where Gossip Girl failed“:

I want to be honest and tell you that I was prepared to hate this series with a passion. There’s nothing I detest more on TV than glamorizing bad teenage behavior. Weirdly, Skins does not come across as glamorous at all; it’s gritty at best. So how does it win? A fantastic cast, brilliant writing, and relatable situations.

Furthermore, Wells also likes Tea the best!

My favorite character out of the four episodes I’ve screened is Tea (Sofia Black D’Elia). Tea is a semi-openly gay girl (friends know, parents do not, as witnessed by her dad trying to set her up on a date) whose survival, MTV promises, “will become the most vital thing in the world to us.” I completely concur. Tea is authentic in a TV world full of manufactured gay teens. When she starts hooking up with a guy and stops midway, only to erupt into laughter, you feel her pleasure and disgust.

That being said, most fans remain completely committed to hating Skins USA, apparently forgetting that they probably already spend four hours a day flipping aimlessly through 500 cable channels eventually debating between a re-run of The Millionaire Matchmaker and Two and a Half Men and therefore they probably will end up watching Skins USA if not willingly then by default.

I am not one of those cynical fans. I AM SO EXCITED FOR SKINS USA. As I’ve said before, I’d watch Skins UK re-runs all day and be happy as a clam, so why wouldn’t I watch a stateside remake also constructed by Bryan Elsley? All this gushing over Tea only ups my present level of anticipation.

Digital Spy has a new interview with three cast members including Sofia Black D’Elia:

Asked about her first girl-on-girl sex scene — because that’s everyone’s favorite question — Sofia says:

“My first sexual scene with a girl was definitely an experience, but it ‘s just another part of her character that I had to try and connect to and I was lucky enough that a couple of the girls I kissed were really pretty.”

Here’s the trailer if you haven’t already seen it:

I feel like this means I might have to buy a teevee.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3225 articles for us.


  1. I’m super skeptical of the American version cause I love the original so much, but I’ve been given some hope after reading this!

  2. im sure her characters personality/habits will be totally someone i would not go for in real life, but shes hawt.

    i am watchin this ALL 4 U TEA.

  3. Everyone hated Generation 2 Skins before the 3rd series came out so I am going to give US Skins the benefit of the doubt. That being said I probably wouldn’t if it didn’t have a lesbian character.

  4. and also “there’s basically an entire website dedicated to tracking the two-minute appearances of said lesbian characters and it’s called” zomgrofleljfgmgjagjg hahahah

    • when i was younger i used to watch MTV all the time. Daria, Beavis & Butthead, The Real World, Aeon Flux, Migraine Boy, the “25 Ways to Stop Smoking” animation, Liquid Television, etc. and there was the Counting Crows, Blind Melon, Nirvana, etc.

      there was a weekly countdown when they played a lot of cool Hong Kong pop, and i remember in 1997/1998 i had a crush on Vivian Chow (the hottest woman i’ve seen in my tiny world up till then) who was in that countdown and I’d watch every week until she was no longer in the top 10. she was one of my first female celebrity crushes (before that I obsessed over Brad Renfro) and i thank MTV for widening my world. then in 1999 i got the internet and it was also the start of MTV’s decline in my eyes.

      now MTV in my country just plays crap reality shows, crap music, the VJs are crap, the only “Asian” music they play are super super autotuned Korean dance bands with like 8 members each (i’m not dissing K-pop, but I’m sure it’s more diverse than the eurotrash dance-sounding things MTV chooses to air).

      i have so many more issues with modern MTV, but i think i’ll stop now.

  5. see, i want to believe this with all my heart, but its mtv, and mtv gave us jersey shore and my super sweet sixteen.

    • I somehow managed to banish Jersey Shore’s existence from my mind. Until now. Ugh. I just have an image of orange people acting incredibly stupid stuck in my head right now. Someone please distract me with something shiny.

    • i know you are all just babies, but when i was in my teens, mtv was actually super awesome doing groundbreaking shit. i’ve never seen jersey shore or sweet 16 or teen mom or any of that nonsense, but basically MTV has been making me sad since TRL took off. but for real, it basically invented the “teen market” and was so awesome once upon a time. daria, real world (when it was still a documentary about 7 strangers in a house), beavis and butthead (DON’T HATE), Tom Green, My So-Called Life reruns, Choose or Lose, Diary, Sex in the 90s, Singled Out, Loveline, Undressed, true life (the only good thing they still do), old-school road rules… i guess i’m hoping this is a return to that.

  6. Skins and Sofia have both tweeted about this article! Congrats.

    I am really looking forward to this show.

  7. Sofia Black D’Elia, you are my new best friend/celebrity crush/object of affection.

  8. regardless I was going to figure out a drinking game to it, but perhaps I’ll have to stay mostly sober. Tea looks awesome. also, can I watch it online/ in the UK?

  9. This post is tagged “lesbian tea”, but I’m pretty sure that name is already taken by my white chai mate blend. 

    • LOL. i thoroughly enjoy mate! especially when it’s prepared in that very mystical bowl-looking thing that belongs in a Zelda game as magic potion or something. // i totally wanna watch this and it reminds me of the movie Remember the Daze, which i just saw & loved and stars Amber Heard (!!!).

  10. One of the articles seemed to state she has sex with a boy and her reaction involves “pleasure”. Maybe they redid the Maxie/Tony scene. So will all the straight men have sex with other men and the straight women have sex with women and the gay men have sex with women? Of course not.

    • Do you mean this sentence? “When she starts hooking up with a guy and stops midway, only to erupt into laughter, you feel her pleasure and disgust.” Because I read that entirely different – her pleasure coming from her control of the situation and the absurdity of it.

  11. if they can get through a season without someone getting pregnant, then MTV might not be such ‘maternity television.’

    bottom line: i miss cassie.

    • Yes Cassie! I don’t know if I can watch anyone say “WOW!” who isn’t Cassie on new Skins. Even if Tea replaces Maxxie.

      • i actually think cassie is the one that will be hard for me. i can’t handle the idea of someone else being cassie. i like that she looks so different, i feel like that’s a start

  12. but serious, have you guys looked at the uk series five folks yet? most importantly adorable andro girl who reads manga? cause yeah, she was wearing a coat with tails and well. yeah.

  13. I’m so glad my roommates and I are getting cable despite not paying for it. I haven’t taken advantage of it yet, but that will change on the 17th at 10.

  14. I too was very hesitant about this remake, but this write up has given me hope. I will mark my calendar! Also, I really hope someone has given Heather Hogan a framed degree in Skinsology (not to be confused with dermatology — I will also use this parenthetical space to express my satisfaction at Riese’s parenthetical note).

  15. I was open to Skins USA initially. Then I saw the extended trailer, and was really turned off by the new Cassie’s (Cadie’s) acting. Now I am WIDE open, again! This is great to hear.

  16. i’m not sure if you guys know this, but, that teacher used to be a friend of mine. glen coco.

    look into it.

  17. Um, I do not own a teevee. But i have an overwhelming urge to watch this. Does anyone know if this will be available on the internets? God I hope so. Otherwise I’ll have to break my rule and watch it illegally. Or hijack a tv.

    • Probably you can watch them on MTV’s website, but if not I guess Skins can be a “group activity” at a friend’s house.

  18. one fatal flaw; skins UK is brought together and sustains its actual plot by having the main male character fooling around with “maxxie”, the teenage queer male who is being replaced by “tea” in the US version.

    also, another character in the UK version has a moral struggle between his religious beliefs and his friendship with said gay teen, “maxxie”

    or maybe the US version will chose a more abstract attempt to recreate a gritty, european teen drama.

    one can only hope that bringing a queer woman into the picture will only bring more awareness and respect for the gay community.

    i can only guess, however, they changed the character to be female so the show would be more suited for misogynistic american teens.

    then again, MTV has made gems such as “teen cribs” and “teen mom 2”

  19. I just saw the interactive character trailer, and it was a huge let down. I mean, I thought The US was going to take the FORMULA of skins and start their own generations as we do every 2 series.

    But no, I clicked the first character, I thought, hmmm she’s a bit like Jal with a different instrument, ok, clicked the next one, Tony, hmmm odd, he’s just like the English one called Tony. It turned out they hadn’t bothered to change half the names (Michelle, Tony, Chris, and Stan is close enough to Sid) and absolutely none of the characteristics. Infact the only differences were Michelle looked more of a full time bitch than a part time one, and Maxxie has gone from being a gay guy to a lesbian called Tea, which I presume is just to get guys who would otherwise have been homophobic to watch the show.

    You know who the most unique and original character is?? The girl that was given no name, said nothing and just wrote lipstick planets on their faces. WHY? Because well done America, you created something new amongst all the thoughtless repackaging. Hooray!

    So I’ll give it a chance, but honestly if it didn’t have Tea in it I wouldn’t bother because I already know whats going to happen. If the characters are the same I bet the storylines are aswell. But I warn you, If they are indeed replicating series 1 and 2, don’t expect as much action as there was with naomi and emily in 3 and 4, Maxxie kissed tony once, then he had a boyfriend who we never really saw. That was it. They never really fixated on his sexuality that much, not like Naomi and Emily. So if the US version carries on with this lazy duplication style, then wait till series 3 and 4, the lesbian storyline pretty much dominated.

  20. alright, I just watched the trailer on this page. Saddly I was right, They’re not even going to redeem it by giving them new stories.

    90% of the scenes were identical. 80% of the SCRIPT was identical!! The plot? 99%. Jeez, is the Bristol accent so painful you can’t just watch ours? just think of the wasted budget…. THere had better be some damn good lesbian content in that 1% of semi-originality. (they kept the “token gay character” and inadvertantly drew originality from the changed gender)

    and If anybody want spoliers I’ll gladly oblige.

  21. i watched this tonight after reading this article, and i have to say that i love Tea, not only because of how awesome she is, but when i saw the “i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)” tattoo i just about died.

Comments are closed.