MTV’s newest fictional series premiered on April 22nd, 2014. This dramedy centers around a pair of best friends, Amy and Karma. Set in Austin, Texas (“a blue oasis in the red sea of Texas” as Karma puts it in the opening scene), the two attend a not-so-average high school where you have to stand out to fit in. Accepting of all differences, the outcasts are the in-crowd at this school.
Right there we hit our first snag. First of all, as if a high school like this actually exists. I’ve never found one and while my high school experience was atypical (I bounced between the so-called “in-crowd” and the “outcasts” with fluidity and ease), I was well-aware of who ruled the school and it was not the “outcasts.” Second and maybe more importantly, by simply deeming one group outcasts (whether they control the school or not), isn’t that in fact an insult? Might as well just call them weirdos, femi-nazis and homos…the terms all hold the same negative connotations.
Karma is desperate to fit in, even attempting to fake being blind in order to get attention (she walks around with blinder-style sunglasses on waving her arms out in front of her), but she fails when a rogue Frisbee flies at her face and she catches it. Suddenly Lauren appears, Amy’s step-sister to be and stereotypical queen bee type (think Regina George in Mean Girls but higher pitched and Texan). She is furious to be in Austin, screeching that anywhere else in Texas she would own “you bitches” and tells Amy and Karma to sail back to the Island of Lesbos.
Little to Amy and Karma know that this exchange has an audience, the openly gay Shane (the most popular guy in school) and Liam (the sexy brooding artist who is also a womanizer). Shane assumes the pair are lesbians and invite them to his party. And thus it ensues, Karma decides that pretending to be lesbians is the perfect way to finally stand out and therefore, fit in. Amy is more reluctant refusing to play along for much of the episode. She even protests so loudly that Lauren overhears in the locker room at one point.
At Shane’s party, he decides that Amy is lying when she tells him they aren’t gay, and publicly “outs” them and nominates the “couple” for Homecoming queens. After much bickering and fighting, Amy decides to support her best and only friend in her attempts to climb the Hester High School social ladder. At the assembly for Homecoming, Lauren publicly announces the two are pretending to be lesbians to get popular. Amy in an act of desperation, passionately kisses Karma and realizes that she may not in fact be pretending to like girls. Karma on the other hand says “way to sell it!” and winks. Karma, in fact is into Liam, who she made out with earlier in the day.
So, what is it about Faking It that is so mesmerizing? The writing is witty and the lines are funny. At one point Amy proclaims that Karma’s scheme is crazier than Shia LeBeouf’s Twitter feed. And the idea of a high school where homophobia “reeks of the late 90’s” is certainly appealing to those of us accepting people. But what about pretending to be gay to get attention (as Karma’s character does)? Isn’t this offensive? Does this not trivialize the coming out experience and fears that many gay teenagers have? Or is this show a giant step forward in showing what the world could be like if we all became a little more accepting and tolerant?
The jury’s still out for me. In the short 30-minute season premiere, I saw a great deal of potential with an equal number of potential problems and issues. Tune in next Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 to MTV to see if the show delights or offends.