*This post contains NO spoilers past the pilot
Hester High School—god, I bet we all wish we had gone there. Located in Austin, Texas, this is a school where those who protest corporations the loudest, those who drive the most eco-friendly cars, and those with the most alternative sexualities are the popular kids. Hester High is the primary location for MTV’s Faking It, possibly the most enjoyable, laugh-inducing show I’ve seen in a long time. In anticipation of the premiere of season 2B on Monday (Aug 31), I binge watched the entire show (18 episodes far).
The premise might sound oversimple and perhaps even insulting: best friends Amy and Karma are mistaken for lesbians and, when their popularity at school skyrockets, decide to fake being a couple. But by the end of the first episode, when they share a steamy kiss in front of the entire school, things grow more complicated for one of them.
The show is topical and timely in an era where Kristen Stewart comes out by saying “I think in three or four years … there are going to be a whole lot more people who don’t think it’s necessary to figure out if you’re gay or straight. It’s like, just do your thing” (interview in Nylon Magazine). Rather than rehashing coming out stories that this generation of high schoolers have clearly moved past, the show embraces ambiguity, confusion, and exploration. Everyone in high school is faking something, and the show says unequivocally that it’s okay to take time to figure yourself out, and that the lies we tell in high school don’t have to end the world (like they do in Buffy*) or define us (My So-Called Life).
Tone-wise, it’s one of the brightest shows out there. If The Killing is a 1 on the happiness scale (seriously, I never once laughed during four seasons of that show, and while I love it, it was dark from the cinematography to the content to the tone), than Faking It is a 10. It’s refreshing to encounter a show that doesn’t treat high school like it’s everything, but also somehow avoids turning into nothing but camp (which is what happened with Glee).
The cast of characters is charming, and the relationship between Amy and Karma is friendship we all wish we had (with or without the sexual tension). Likewise, the friendship between rich-kid Liam and out and proud Shane is absolutely lovely. The two boys have a blast together at sing-alongs or bar fights, joking about their two sexualities with equal levity—hetrosexuality isn’t erased or the norm at Hester. Rather, it’s as available for good-natured teasing and puns as homosexuality has become. The main characters’ parents complete the show, rounding out its politics and questions of identity.
If you’ve got 22 minutes, head over to MTV.com treat yourself to the pilot (sadly, with commercials). You’ll laugh, you’ll grin, and you’ll probably be hooked.
*Nothing against Buffy or My So-Called Life--I love both those shows!