1. The Cast
I don’t think I’ve ever written a 5 Reasons blog that didn’t have the cast first, and that is because casting is everything to me. You could show me the most brilliant piece of cinematic art ever created; it could get 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, but if I don’t like the cast, especially the lead? Pffft.
And vice versa. A show or movie could be utter tripe, but give me a lead that I love and an iota of charm? Sold!
“Faking It” is surprisingly (to me, at first) not the latter, but more on that in a later bullet point. For now I will just say that I’m really happy to see Katie Stevens singing again on my television! I loved her on “American Idol,” and think she is perfect as Karma — a character so flawed, but so endearing. Rita Volk looks like no one I’ve ever seen before, and I mean that in a good way. She’s more the lead, while Karma’s more the star — IMO and if that makes any sense — and does a captivating job playing the straight woman (so to speak) without being boring.
Not an easy feat to accomplish on a show that includes a supporting cast of wackadoodles that could go toe to toe with “Gilmore Girls” and “Hart of Dixie.” Michael J. Willett as Shane knocks it out of the park! I never really understood women falling in love with their gay male friends, but I’d totally have pined for him if he’d been my friend when I was younger. Gregg Sulkin as Liam is shocking, because you think he’s going to be the Boring Beefcake, but is actually really sweet and hilarious. I can’t name everyone because this is not the Oscars, but in my last quick they’re-playing-the-music breath, let me just say that Rebecca McFarland as Amy’s mom is WONDERFUL with her wide, unblinking eyes, deadpan delivery, then boom! Ability to make you cry out of nowhere. Senta Moses is back as Principal Penelope in clever casting, seeing as she was one of the OG TV people to pine after her own gay male BFF on “My So-Called Life.” Karma’s parents crack me up, and Amy Farrington’s eye-reaction to the word “threesome” is one of the best I’ve ever seen 😀
Oh but wait, one more important thing, which is that Bailey De Young is THE BOMB. When I first started watching, I thought that the scenes of her character Lauren were going to be ones I had to just get through. But she ended up becoming possibly my favorite character, and while she gets great material with which to work, Bailey De Young brings so much more to the table than necessary. I love her and now I need to watch “Bunheads.”
- The Funny
When I started watching this show, I expected very little, to be honest. But what sucked me in first was how many LOLs this show brought forth, even just in the pilot! The humor is so much more clever and subversive than I’d ever have predicted, and I love that even as splashy and over-the-top “Faking It” is, the humor is all over the place. Sometimes you’ll get Karma trying to storm out of a bedroom ball pit whilst wearing a lavender dress that I really need to own, tripping over purple, teal, and silver balls, but most of all her own indignation 😮 Other times, you’ll see Lauren casually saying with full-on self-awareness, “Old people love me; I share their values.” It’s a great balance, overall.
- The Lack of Shallow and Stereotypes
It’s MTV. It’s a show about teenagers in high school, and the whole premise is based on an uber-liberal school getting excited about having its first lesbian couple. Shane is pretty flamboyant (when asked to “butch it up” for a family dinner, he comes dressed in Amy’s words as “Magic Mike”). Lauren is a family-values neocon who looks like she spends her nights dreaming of being a FOX News anchor. Basically, the show on the surface is ALL stereotype, but within a very short period of time, “Faking It” makes it clear that the show has not come to bring peace but a sword, as it spends its time skewering stereotypes, while still mining them for humor.
4. Because “Degrassi’s” Going Away
Guys, I still haven’t wrapped my brain around the fact that “Degrassi’s” ending next month. I know there is talk that there will be a spinoff/reappropriation/whatever they want to call it, but I’m devastated! I know, I know — I’ll be 40 in two months and yada yada yada, but whatever! I’ve been watching it since I was 12, and even with the reboot when I was nearly 30, it kept me feeling energized. I already have to BE an adult, and my own IRL-teen show (Beverly Hills 90210) spent most of its post-Brenda energy on adult bullshit anyway. When I get home from work, I don’t want to watch a show about angry adults being evil to each other. I want to laugh, and I want to remember what it feels like to have teenage hope again.
But on the serious level, I do like learning about what The Kids are dealing with today. “Degrassi’s” never shied away from any topic, and “Faking It” seems just as prepared to “go there.” Or as my boyfriend said when he overheard me watching it from the other room, “It’s like a dirtier ‘Degrassi.'”
In all fairness, that was the threesome episode, but it was really funny and kind of true. It’s always made me happy that “Degrassi’s” existed, because it tackles things that even adults are like “Too soon!” about. Adam who was transgender, I can’t imagine how many people his character helped. Now on “Faking It,” we have an intersex character in Lauren. She struggled with feeling like it was a shameful secret, but based on the end of S2, is poised — literally and figuratively, because Lauren can raise her chin and straighten her spine like no one since Anne Shirley — to own it with pride.
5. The Friendship
Probably my very favorite thing about “Faking It” if I could only pick one, is that despite the show’s premise and the humor behind it, they treat Amy’s realization that she’s in love with Karma no differently than Joey’s feelings for Dawson, Willow’s for Xander, or any other teen-in-love-with-her-best-friend show. There is the added level of confusion, since Amy didn’t “even like looking at (her) own vagina,” back in the pilot. She doesn’t even know if she’s a lesbian for awhile; she just knows that she loves the person she’s been tied to the hip with since kindergarten. I honestly can’t imagine; unrequited love is hard enough. Amy’s situation is like getting dumped within a 16-year marriage, only having to still live with the person. But it’s not even THAT, because Karma really loves Amy with her whole heart — just not in that way. In the end, whether they end up in the same bed or separate houses next door to each other, they are soulmates. That to me is the most compelling part of an all-around awesome show.