When I was a kid, Disney aired a TV movie called Student Exchange about two high school outcasts who reinvent themselves as foreign exchange students and suddenly become cool. It's amazing what a tanning bed, some new accents and a bit of Euro-fashion will do for a kid in the 80s. Watching the trailer for MTV's Faking It prompted a quick flashback of the guilty pleasure TV movie from my youth. Except these two girls aren't pretending to be French or Italian, they're posing as lesbians to gain social status.
Amy (Rita Volk) and Karma (Katie Stevens) are best friends and unpopular. When they're mistakenly outed as lesbians, their social stock skyrockets, so they decide to go with it. Is it offensive for two characters to pretend to gay when they aren't just to be cool? Buzzfeed actually checked in with showrunner Carter Covington, who admitted to being offended by the concept when MTV approached him about the show. But he re-thought the concept after working the Trevor Project's crisis hotline.
“I had a caller one night who said, ‘I’m worried that my friends are only my friends because I’m gay,’” Covington said. “I was shocked. That idea seemed so foreign to me given the world I grew up in, but this kid explained that he went to a very tolerant high school where being gay was like a badge of honor. That’s when I realized there are schools out there where being gay is no longer a problem, and tolerance is viewed as an asset. It made me think Faking It could work if we set it a high school like that and had one of the girls actually have a crush on her best friend.”
So which girl has the actual crush? That certainly adds an interesting twist to the story.
MTV's had some mixed results with dramas and dramedies that focus on high school and young adult awkwardness. Things didn't work out so well for Skins, I Just Want My Pants Back and The Inbetweeners, two of which were remakes of popular British shows. But Faking It looks like it has the potential to go the Awkward route, if it manages to hit similar humorous tones and candid approach to adolescence. And there's always potential for good drama when a major lie is involved, right?
Covington's credits include 10 Things I Hate About You (the series) and Greek, so he's no stranger to humor and angst among teens and young adults. And the fact that the subject matter hits close to home -- and that he had initial concerns as a gay man over how the original concept would play -- is an indication that this project is in good hands. But we'll have to wait and see how the series looks when it premieres on MTV on Tuesday, April 22 at 10:30/9:30c.