Tuesday, December 16, 2014

LGBT Tuesday: Faking It Season 1 Episode 1

What happens when two teenage girls fake being lesbians in order to become popular at their progressive, gluten-free, protest-loving, liberal high school? Well…MTV’s Faking It is trying to find out.
I first heard about Faking It while watching one of my other guilty pleasure shows: Awkward. Don’t judge me. MTV has been spewing out some hilarious shows full of drama and fun that make Glee and Pretty Little Liars look like watered-down Kool-Aid in comparison. When I saw the preview for Faking it I was both intrigued — and a little apprehensive.
At first I just looked at it and said…Urgh….way to capitalize on the gay-train MTV. You want to look progressive; you want to look HIP, so let’s make a show about fake lesbians….SighBecause fake lesbians played by straight actresses are so representative of the LGBT culture…right? Still, I thought that the concept was original and I should at least check it out because…reasons.
So I decided that I was going to get my popcorn and rage at how ridiculous the show was or at least get myself worked up at how completely wrong on so many levels it was to be sexualizing lesbians as a means to generate publicity for a show…yadda, yadda, yadda. Anyways….here we go!

Opening Scene
We have two best friends Amy (blonde) and Karma (reddish brunette?) who are getting ready for day one of high school (dramatic swoon). Karma is obsessed with being popular and making a name for herself, and she seems intent on dragging Amy along for the ride, because that’s what besties are for. Set in Austin, a “blue oasis in the red sea that is Texas”, alluding to the fact that Austin is pretty much one of the only liberal areas in all of the gun-toting, red-meat eating, (supposedly) gay-hating state, Karma goes on to describe that their school is so liberal, it’s the outcasts who are popular, and those that seek to conform to the norm of high school cheerleader/jock cliques are the losers.


Like most teenage girls intent on the quest for popularity, Karma decides to pretend to be something she’s not to get popularity. She decides to be blind, soak up the sympathy and attention while getting a fake tumor removed, and then make a triumphant return to school where she can remain blissfully popular for the trials and tribulation she went through. (I may already hate Karma…)

Throughout the school day, we meet the other cast members, from Lauren –Amy’s future step sister and apparently the quintessential cheerleader type who is not happy to be in such a liberal place — to Shane, a very cute and extremely flamboyant gay guy who’s king of the school apparently. Despite Karma’s failed attempt at blindness, all her dreams come true as she and Amy score invites to Shane’s party. (like…yay!). Oh, and Shane’s trusty side kick Liam is there to make Karma blush and stammer and apparently throw up like she’s never seen a member of the male species before.
But unbeknownst to Karma and Amy, Shane only issued the invite because he thought they were lesbians and he always wanted lesbian friends.Perfect. The party is in full swing a few scenes later, and we find Shane trying to build a friendship with Amy about being in the closet and how awesome it is to be gay. Though Amy insists that she’s straight, Shane refuses to believe her and attempts to turn the light on in her figurative closet.
We also run across Lauren as she’s attempting to right the natural order of things and make herself into the Homecoming Queen. Shane doesn’t like Lauren’s sassy back-talk so he decides to take matters into his own hands.He nominates his new lesbian friends as the “preferred” Homecoming Queen and Queen nominees to force them to accept themselves and be happy about being out and proud!
They decide to roll with it, Karma being way more thrilled about their new found popularity than Amy, and she lets Karma know it by huffing and puffing and having a general bad attitude all day while Karma is flitting around answering interviews and fun questions about what it’s like to be a lesbian. Being best friends is really hard because in order to make Karma happy, Amy has to pretend to be a lesbian, and she (unlike Karma) is uncomfortable about lying about it. They fight, and it takes the cute Liam Booker to make Karma see that Amy’s friendship means more to her than being popular (thank god!).
Amy decides that to be a good friend to Karma, she will continue the charade and be Karma’s fake girlfriend anyway. Amy’s newfound commitment to “the plan” is tested when Lauren confronts the pair during an assembly and pep rally for the Homecoming race, claiming that they are fake lesbians. To prove the truth of the situation, Amy kisses Karma amid cheers from an entire gymnasium full of students and falling confetti.


The kiss seems to shake something loose for Amy, and you can almost see the realization click in Amy’s eyes as she gazes at Karma. She’s a full blown lesbian! They really aren’t lying; she loves Karma and the loving look in Karma’s eyes hint at the same feelings! Karma leans in close and whispers “Wow, way to sell it!” and all the self-discovery and love in Amy’s eyes turns to hurt as she realizes that Karma didn’t feel what she did. It’s one-sided…Now what?

 Final Thoughts
Despite my misgivings, I found myself in a rage — not because of the content-but because I had to wait an entire week for the next episode. So now I’m hooked. Thanks, MTV. And I will be bringing an in-depth recap and analysis about each episode of Faking It as it happens. I want to be thinking of some questions while I look at this show though. It’s obviously not going to be super realistic. I can’t imagine this sort of high school happening even in San Francisco or Key West. However if I suspend my disbelief for a minute, then I can definitely get behind Faking It for creating some sort of satire on American High School culture, and appreciate it for what it is. A step forward.
Maybe the show does capitalize on girls making out to get ratings, but it also wouldn’t have been on-air a decade ago. Maybe this quaint liberal high-school with lesbian Homecoming queens and a stoner “in-crowd” won’t be such a fantasy in 50 years. Either way…it’s entertaining as hell. Hilarious puns and witty writing, characters that had me at hello, and quirky stories that bring new and original ideas to the table…this is the silver screen at its semi-finest. It’s certainly introduced some excellent new words to me vocabulary…haha…vagitarians
Okay, so this episode was about set-up. I get that. We needed to find out who everyone was and why we should care in less than 25 minutes. So there was a lot to cover. For some reason, it seems that MTV is trying to make Amy the “butch” by making her style-challenged. Sigh. She wears overalls and a dingy t-shirt to a party. She wears ratty hair in a side ponytail and always is wearing unflattering jeans and sweatshirts.
Clichéd style aside, Amy seems to be my favorite character so far. She’s at least mostly honest and seems to just want her best friend to be happy.Karma, on the other hand, is the girl I hated in high school. She’s a social butterfly but friends with no one because she just wants to be popular. As soon as you aren’t popular, you are beneath her notice and unworthy of attention. She’s lying, conniving, and just hurt her best friend terribly. Hopefully she grows on me or this show could get hard to watch.

What do you think?

Is Faking It too unrealistic for you to enjoy? Do you find any of the characters stereotypical or clichéd? What were your first impressions of Amy, Karma, Shane, Liam, or Lauren?

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