MTV’s new hit show “Faking It” premiered April 22 and has swept the nation as a “hip” and “new” comedy series for the younger generation to relate to.
In the show, two teen best friends Karma (Katie Stevens) and Amy (Rita Volk) have embarked on the road to ensured popularity by “faking” being in a lesbian relationship together.
Although this idea was prompted by the inaccurate “gaydar” of openly gay cool senior Shane (Michael J. Willet), the two friends decide to fake their relationship as it will most certainly guarantee them recognition and even approval from their extremely liberal teen counterparts who ultimately dub the two as homecoming queens simply because they are a great addition to their “Keep Austin Weird” ideals.
As the show progresses, the two friends learn how to further delve into their fake relationship by using their façade as a means of gaining power and attention. Christened “ally” and heartthrob Liam (Gregg Sulkin) becomes the target of Karma’s admiration and as the two begin to secretly hook up with each other, he professes that he had always dreamed of having sex with a lesbian.
Karma has feelings for this teenage hunk, while it becomes clear that her fake “boo” Amy is actually experiencing sexual insecurities and the awkward struggles of a possibly queer teenager. During the process of acting as a lesbian, Amy has begun to actually fall in love with her best friend.
While the show attempts to be very self conscious and dynamic, the majority of its plot is extremely offensive and in opposition to the subjects discussed.
By promoting two girls “faking” a lesbian relationship to gain easy popularity and attention not only belittles actual lesbian relationships, but also plays into the stereotype that they are merely for attention.
In addition, because the school proclaims the relationship as cool and trendy, the ideal that lesbian relationships are “sexy” and different than an “ordinary” relationship plays into the idea that gay identity is anything but normal. This is furthered by Liam and Karma’s secret relationship – suggesting that it isn’t necessarily cheating because she’s “gay” and he’s a man so it doesn’t count AND that an attractive man can cure anything that is imposing on heteronormativity.
So far, the show reduces the idea of female sexuality to the male gaze. It also prevents the representation of a true “ally” as being one completely independent from self-interest.
Although the show mocks the idea of lesbianism solely existing for attention, it also presents an ironic paradigm, as this new attention is one that is solely based on the two now being the token gay couple.
Their peers offer them gluten-free muffins and a photo-shoot for the school’s Tumblr, further belittling and alienating their relationship as something that is different from the ordinary. By pretending to be lesbians, they gain attention but also lose their identity separate from their sexuality.
This show could present positive content through Amy’s character coming to terms with her own sexual orientation, but it has yet to address it fully without also pairing it with the very hot-and-heavy heterosexual relationship of Karma and Liam. Amy could serve as an example to young viewers also struggling with their own sexual orientation, however her portrayal has yet to separate from the negative stigmas that lesbian relationships are constantly up against.
MTV’s “Faking It” might become the first socially conscious teen comedy to positively discuss issues of sexuality and identity that it revolves around, but it hasn’t done that yet.