Desperate to fit in, Matty Barton (Ash Palmisciano) could be set to make a huge mistake in Emmerdale as he makes a new group of friends who may not be all that they seem – could he be getting in too deep as he goes all out to try and impress him while they secretly taunt him behind his back?
During a football match, Matty is aggressively shoved by the opposing team’s defender, Jono and Pete (Anthony Quinlan) leaps to Matty’s defence, almost outing him in the process which is a situation Matty wants to avoid. At the pub, Matty is frustrated at Pete for not allowing him the normality to just be treated the same as everyone else but he is chuffed when Jono and his pal Ste invite him over to sit with them.
As someone who has found it hard to make friends since coming out as transgender, Matty feels accepted and hopeful but soon he is facing peer pressure from his new pals to do things out of his comfort zone and Pete is deeply worried as Matty acts out of character in order to try and impress them.
Ash shared: ‘Matty feels that in order for him to be respected by the other lads, for him to be a ‘proper man’, he has to be like this – he has to be like one of those guys. And he goes on a bit of a mission. It taps into the whole toxic masculinity thing. Matty feels as those he has to be more like them in order to fit in. Basically he’s going though it a little bit late in life – something that most lads go through at about 12 or 13 – trying to figure out how to act with the lads. It’s definitely a side to him that we haven’t seen before.’
When he later discovers from Amy Wyatt (Natalie Ann Jamieson) that Victoria (Isabel Hodgins) is leaving the village, he feels betrayed that his mate would be planning an exit without keeping him in the loop and after he confronts her, he storms off to rejoin Ste and Jono.
As Victoria tries to make amends, Matty ignores her and focuses on his dubious new friendship group but when Billy Fletcher (Jay Kontzle) and Ellis Chapman (Asan N’Jie) try to convince Matty that they aren’t good people as they have been saying nasty things behind his back, will Matty take note of this?
Ash sighed: ‘He doesn’t want to be offensive to people in the village. But it’s what he thinks he needs to be right now. And also he’s never had a group of lad mates before, and he’s just so wanting to be liked, He’s desperate for people to hand round with him and validate him, and so he goes down this dark path.
‘In Matty’s head he thinks it’s all going well – he thinks he’s doing the right thing knocking around with these guys, but actually they’re taking him for a bit of a ride, and that’s the really sad thing about it. He thinks he’s got mates, but actually they’re just taking the mick out of him. They’re bullies, really. They’re using him to get what they want, and they eventually use him to help them break in to Butler’s Farm.’
But what other depths will he sink to in order to keep friends who could make his life worse?
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