Deep in the heart of Texas, the stars at night are big and bright (as proven by Peewee’s Big Adventure) and there exists a town called Austin. If you’ve ever made a grave lapse in judgment and gone to SXSW, you know that Austin is a bastion of blue liberal thought in an ocean of red conservatism — filled with crochet bombers, home canners, waxed mustaches and Keep Austin Weird bumper stickers. It is here that MTV has set its newest teen dramedy: Faking It.
The show revolves around the social climbing schemes of Karma (Katie Stevens) and Amy (Rita Volk), two teen BFFs who look a hell of a lot better at fake 7 am than most of us have ever looked in our lives. Karma is “at the end of her queue,” and can’t stomach spending one more Friday night with Netflix. She is determined to be popular and hatches scheme after scheme to cement her social status, while Amy, her seemingly long-suffering friend, just goes with it even when the plan “sounds crazier than Shia LaBoeuf’s Twitter feed.” (That joke was clearly written two months ago.)
Today, Karma wants to take a page out of the Heathers handbook and eat a brain tumor for breakfast. Her newly-acquired tumor will press on her optic nerve and render her blind overnight. She is convinced that sudden onset blindness and an equally miraculous recovery will translate to sudden onset popularity. Why? Because the Texas high school they attend is a Bizarro version of the Friday Night Lights world and the school is so liberal that the outsiders are the popular kids and anyone who would be on the fringe of a normal high school is elevated to elite status. Amy and Karma with their perfect flowing hair and spotless skin and upper middle class home life have failed to crack their school’s elite even though Amy has a mildly snarky attitude and wears the most transgressive coat you can buy at Urban Outfitters — the army green military jacket.
When the school bell rings, Karma dons a pair of Blublockers and grasps Amy’s arm and gropes the air in front of her. Tragicomically, the plan is foiled when a Frisbee flies at her and she catches it before it hits her in the face.
Luckily Amy’s evil step-sister Lauren (Bailey Buntain) paves an unintentional new path to popularity for the girls when she tries to Mean Girl style blast them for sitting in her seat.
When that fails, Lauren just loudly grumbles that she wants to ship them off to the Isle of Lesbos. It’s an idle threat that the school’s Queen Bee — Shane, who “came out in the 4th grade” — overhears. He notes that “bullying the gays is so late ‘90s,” and as it so happens, he has been “craving lesbian energy in his life”. Amy and Karma’s fake relationship gives them instant celebrity status, which naturally includes an invitation to a party at his house. When they try to tell Shane that they aren’t gay, he just accuses them of being closeted.
The complicated situation is further complicated by the fact that Karma thinks Shane’s straight best friend, Liam (Gregg Sulkin, who you can tell is a hottie because his name has two Gs) is cute.
Turns out Liam likes a challenge and grossly (disturbingly, wrongly) thinks trying to change a lesbian is a fun way to pad his resume for college or something.
At the party, which Amy declares “is dripping with HPV”, Karma continues to flirt subtly with Liam while Amy keeps trying to deny that they are in fact lesbians, Shane decides to out them in the most high school way possible: He nominates them for homecoming queens, even though “no one is still interested in patriarchal bullshit”. No one except for Amy’s almost stepsister, that is, who is not dealing well with the fact that “in any other school in Texas, I would rule,” but instead, she is stuck in Austin on the bottom of the popularity food chain.
When they head to their high school, they were feted with gluten free, homebaked muffins and a full-court prom queens press. In Amy’s words: “Thank god teenagers can’t vote, they’re idiots.”
As the excitement over the school’s first same-sex homecoming court couple builds, Amy gets less and less interested in the scheme. She and Karma have a big fight, but soon come around because otherwise this would be a very short-lived series like it was on the CW or something.
As it turns out, Amy is graciously willing to do anything for her friend, even give a big speech at the homecoming court. Lauren tries to pull a Regina George and outs them as fake lesbians, but their really realness is proven when Amy pulls Karma in for a big kiss in front of the whole school.
While Karma loved how Amy “sold” their relationship, Amy may actually be struggling with her sexuality, which is the realest thing about this show so far. Can’t wait to see what happens next week when MTV continues trying to make teen open-mindedness happen.
Faking It is executive produced by Carter Covington (10 Things I Hate About You, Greek,Hart of Dixie). The series was created by Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov.