MTV’s seemingly controversial new show proves to be ‘Faking It’

By Alexa Hoyle

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Alberto Garcia/Flickr

Alberto Garcia/Flickr

MTV’s new show “Faking It” has been receiving a lot of buzz for its controversial premise. The series focuses on two anonymous high school girls who crave a respite from the obscurity so bad that they feign a lesbian relationship to gain popularity. You can see where some people may be concerned. But does the show really earn all of its detractors?

The short answer is no, not necessarily. The show isn’t too egregiously offensive because it’s not really much of anything. Karma (Katie Stevens) and Amy (Rita Volk) are two best friends at a Texas high school that feels off kilter – the outcasts are the in-crowd and mean girls have no power. It’s a nice idea, but I couldn’t help but wonder why this show was set in Texas and not somewhere like California with a school like that.

The most popular kid at the school is Shane (Michael J. Willett), a gay student who immediately assumes Karma and Amy are a couple. It’s not necessarily a surprising mistake to make – the two are very close. When they’re not coming up with schemes to get popular they’re watching “House Hunters” in their pajamas. They’re soon invited to a party at Shane’s, where he publically outs them to about a hundred of their peers. This not only felt absurd, but wholly insensitive to the plight of gay teens that have a difficult time coming out. The high school is supposed to be ultra-accepting, but that isn’t an excuse to parade someone’s private life to a bunch of people who don’t even know them.

While the show is very blah in a lot of ways, there are some pretty problematic issues with the premise. The goal of the show seems to be to show the normalization of homosexuality in high school – but it’s inauthentic. Karma and Amy aren’t actually dating. And while the point may be to show that they’re pretending to be gay, as opposed to shows where teens pretend they’re not, they’re assuming a faux sexuality for all the wrong reasons. They’re assuming a sexuality to be cool and something about that rubs the wrong way.

The striking thing is that despite the fact that the girls are trying to convince the school they’re lesbians, the show is still inserting love triangle drama into the mix. Cool guy Liam (Gregg Sulkin), who is a caricature of high school jerkiness, flirts with Karma and even kisses her despite believing she’s a lesbian. It shows another issue the show presents – the idea that lesbianism is a way to attract men. Karma comments in the episode that you can look at any porno and see that guys love lesbians – the show isn’t trying to dispel the sexualizing of lesbianism.

“Faking It” isn’t all bad, though. It seems that one of the girls may be genuinely struggling with their sexuality as Amy realizes she might actually feel something for Karma. It will be interesting to see this explored further as the show goes on. Amy is by far the only likable character on the show, and Volk gives the most authentic performance. Her insistence she is going along with the plan just to make her best friend happy feels more real than anything else happening around her.

The show also finds clumsy similarities with its lead-in “Awkward.” From the bleeped swears to the shoehorned pop culture references, it’s almost as if MTV is trying to cash in on a carbon copy of a show they already have. It feels as though the two shows could easily exist in the same world, and that might not necessarily be a good thing when it comes to discerning this show as something unique.

“Faking It” isn’t completely awful, but it’s definitely not worth anyone’s time. The show is blatantly uncomplicated in its stereotypical character depictions and that doesn’t make it a fun, soapy watch – it makes it boring. I wouldn’t even fake watching this one.

Alexa Hoyle can be reached at [email protected]

Alberto Garcia/Flickr
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