We have to admit, we weren’t exactly excited for this show when we heard its premise: Two straight girls fake being lesbians to become more popular at high school? In the hands of MTV, god only knew where something like that could go. But the show — now in the midst of its second season — is impressively way more complicated than that, and has gotten better with every episode. Set at a progressive high school in Austin, Texas, “Faking It” is probably as insightful as it gets when it comes to LGBTI youth (that “I” is indeed there because the series offers an extremely rare representation of an intersex character) on television. It sort of feels like a more melancholic, more transgressive, and certainly much more gay version of the cult WB series “Popular.” And that’s a major compliment.
If you haven’t watched the show, we suggest you do so and not read any further, because there’s a fairly major spoiler to come right after this sentence (stop now!). It turns out that one of the straight girls that started out the series faking lesbianism for popularity isn’t so straight. Over the course of the first season, “Faking It” offers a pretty devastating character arc for Amy Raudenfeld (the fantastic Rita Volk), who slowly begins to realize that she has romantic and sexual feelings for her best friend Karma (Katie Stevens). Worse for Amy is that Karma is successfully pimping out her false identity to win over the hottest guy in school, leaving Amy in the less than desirable position of being a closeted lesbian pretending to be a out lesbian so the love of her life can nab a boyfriend.
The series handles Amy’s angst thoughtfully (and occasionally quite hilariously), giving us one of the most layered teenage lesbians television has ever seen (though to that end, there have sadly only been a handful).
Watch the “Faking It” cast at Paley Fest below: