Or are they?
by Megan Smith
I’m going to be really honest. When I first saw the promo for MTV’s Faking It, I just sat there in awe—and not a good awe. A show about two high school girls who fake being lesbians to increase their popularity? You’ve got to be kidding me. In a time when 9 out of 10 LGBT youth report having been harassed at school, everything about Faking It seemed disturbing, to say the least.
But then I watched it. And whoever did the promotional videos should be fired, because Faking It is your new guilty pleasure.
The show centers around best friends Amy (Rita Volk) and Karma (Katie Stevens), students at the fictional Hester High School in Austin—that progressive “blue oasis in the red sea of Texas.” Forget about your traditional high-school social hierarchy. At the liberal Hester, the typical “homecoming queen” types—like Amy’s soon-to-be stepsister, Lauren (Bailey Buntain)—are on the bottom of the social ladder, while those who protest social injustice, such as school-hunk Liam Booker (Gregg Sulkin), reign supreme.
Amy and Karma, who have always had trouble finding their place at Hester, are thrown for a loop when they are mistaken as a lesbian couple by Liam’s out-and-proud best friend, Shane (Michael J. Willett), who nominates them for homecoming queens. The school rallies behind the fake couple and they are launched into new-found popularity.
Deciding to give the people what they want—and after much convincing by the popularity-starved Karma—the platonic pair continues to fake being a couple while campaigning for queens. It all seems rather platonic—until the two share a kiss at the homecoming pep rally. Sparks fly for Amy, but do they for Karma?
Cue the all-too-familiar feeling of falling for your best friend. Does she like you more than as just a friend? It can be excruciating to watch a person with whom you’re already so close change in front of you and tell you their deepest, darkest secrets. And how do you analyze those feelings while you’re in a fake lesbian relationship, even though you’re not really faking? Amy, I feel for you. Things become even more complicated when Karma starts having feelings for Liam and the two begin a series of secret hook-ups.
The show’s producer, the openly gay Carter Covington (10 Things I Hate About You, Greek), knew LGBT viewers would connect with Amy and Karma’s situation when he pitched Faking It to MTV. Covington made it clear that “this [is] not to be an offensive premise. I think one of them needs to realize she has feelings for her best friend, because that’s what I felt in high school,” he told The Backlot. “I had all these relationships where I wanted it to be more, but I couldn’t say so. And [MTV] loved that.”
Faking It definitely has its problems. Despite being set in Austin, where 35 percent of the population is Hispanic, the show has very few people of color, and none of them are main characters. However, the show does excel in portraying the ups and downs of teenage romance, the need to belong, and the struggle to define ourselves during a period of time when nothing seems certain.
Amy’s sexuality is never directly labeled either, which is quite refreshing. Her feelings for Karma are never anything but sincere, yet the show doesn’t pigeonhole her as lesbian, bisexual, queer, or some other variation. Instead, it simply focuses on what the girls are going through emotionally, regardless of sexual orientation.
Season one leaves us right after Amy admits her feelings to Karma, leading to a very unexpected plot twist. I’m not going to spoil it for you—you’ll just have to watch for yourselves.
Yes, I might love this show so much because it reminds me of watching South of Nowhere during my own confusing high school days. But if you get sucked in to Faking It like I have, you’re in luck—MTV announced mid-June that the show has been renewed for another season with 10 more episodes (it’s the network’s highest-rated new show this year!). So, until then, head over to mtv.com to watch all of season one for free.