Is Faking It Potentially A Real Sleeper Hit?
Determining the potential of MTV's new faux-sapph-com.
What Is This Thing?
Longtime best friends Amy and Karma are total zeros at their high school. But when classic mean girl Lauren -- whose dad happens to be engaged to Amy's mom -- insults the two of them by calling them lesbians, gay classmate Shane is so excited about having lesbian friends that he won't hear any protests that Karma and Amy aren't actually gay. His enthusiasm leads him to nominate the pair to be Homecoming Queens, and Karma is so thrilled to be on the social map that she convinces Amy to join her in keeping up the ruse. But when Lauren tells a school assembly that she overheard them conspiring in the bathroom and they have to keep the lie alive by kissing, Amy realizes she is...maybe not so much faking it as she thought.
When Is It On?
Tuesdays at 10:30 PM on MTV.
Why Was It Made Now?
The 21 Jump Street movie adaptation already established that the old high school clique divisions that used to define "popularity" have changed (as has the "cool" way to wear a backpack). Lauren keeps saying that at any other high school in Texas, she would be the kind of queen bee she has clearly spent her life trying to be, but that in Austin her kind is not as prized as out gay kids are; I'm in no position to say whether that's true of other high schools in Texas or in America at large, but it's definitely true of high schools on TV. So there's that. There's also the fact that MTV needed a slightly edgy sitcom to pair with Awkward.
What's Its Pedigree?
How has MTV not made more in its promos of the fact that one of this show's executive producers is Carter Covington? I squealed when his name came up as the writer of the pilot: he worked on Greek!!! Less important but also nice is the casting of Bunheads's Bailey Buntain as Lauren, even though I didn't recognize her AT ALL with all that hair down. And Liam, the guy Karma's crushing on, is played by Gregg Sulkin, late of Wizards Of Waverly Place and Pretty Little Liars (and in case you, like me, are a grown adult who thinks he's dreamy and feels icky about it because he's playing a high school student: he's almost twenty-two! It's okay!).
Like Greek, Faking It clearly comes from someone who loves the tropes of '80s teen movies, but isn't so reverent about them that he can't find ways to turn them inside out and make them relevant for Today's Youth. (I mean, I assume? I don't actually talk to any teenagers so I'm just guessing based on the fact that it got made.) There are still arbiters of popularity in high schools, just as there were in Sixteen Candles; they're just excluding people here for different reasons, offering new comedic possibilities. And did I mention Liam is a fox? 'Cause he ain't ugly.
Rita Volk and Katie Stevens, who play Amy and Karma (respectively), seem to me to be acting at totally different pitches. Granted, Karma is the dizzier of the two and the more obsessed with her standing, which accounts for some of her high-energy goofiness. And of course Amy is in the tougher position, having to be a wet blanket on Karma's crazy scheme and yearn after her. But she doesn't seem particularly funny -- or, at least, she doesn't get anything funny to do in the pilot. But! Now that she has two secrets to keep -- that she's faking being a lesbian, and that she's...faking her faking -- her wacky quotient very well may go up. I also don't totally buy that a BMOC like Liam would be interested in Karma even for the challenge...but that may just be that I'm against her because I'm into him. Hi. I'm almost forty and I'm getting territorial about a fictional teen on a show for children.
Shane is a treat, Liam is a dreamboat, and even if the whole thing were a shitshow, my love for Greek would make me watch at least one season anyway. But it's not: it's fizzy and fun and better than the rapidly aging Awkward.