I’ve been really excited about MTV’s Faking It these past couple of months. It has all the heart and authenticity that Awkward. used to have before losing its creator couple, with an interesting, fresh story. Going into the season finale, “Burnt Toast” starts to drop the ball just a bit. There are still some terrific, heart-warming moments, but a few things feel forced, and the cliffhangers come across as staged. Could this be a minor misstep in a promising freshman series, already renewed for a second season? Or does it signal that Faking It doesn’t have what it takes to make the long haul, a nifty concept with no follow through?
For those not familiar with the story, Faking It finds two best friends, Karma (Katie Stevens) and Amy (Rita Volk), posing as a lesbian couple to help build their popularity at school. But then Karma falls for Liam (Gregg Sulkin), and in order to hook up with a guy she likes and who is finally noticing her, she starts to strain her real friendship with Amy. This is particularly rough on Amy because she has discovered that she really is gay and has romantic feelings for Karma. What a mess!
In the finale, Amy comes clean to Karma, not so intentionally, in the toast she makes at her mother’s wedding. Karma obviously doesn’t return the feelings, but tries to handle it gracefully, not being weirded out, but unable to give Amy what she wants. This might work out OK if Shane (Michael J. Willett) didn’t build up Amy’s hopes so far before the truth is discussed, meaning Amy actually thinks Karma is going to be receptive to her, and she’s deeply hurt when Karma isn’t.
While not everyone has gone through this exact same thing, many viewers should be able to relate to the hurt feelings Amy harbors. But one cannot blame Shane for giving advice based on Amy’s description of her interactions with Karma, clearly seen through rose-colored glasses. Most people know what it’s like to get excited and then be disappointed. It’s part of life and it’s part of growing up. Faking It handles these emotions very well, the young actress expressing authentic pain, and the misunderstandings coming about in a genuine way,
Then, however, Amy sleeps with Liam. This, I do not get. Liam is upset that Karma is lying to him from the start and Amy feels dejected. However, Amy doesn’t like men. Yes, there is definitely room for bi-sexuality in the world, but Amy exhibits no symptoms of such leanings before “Burnt Toast,” so her sudden interest comes out of nowhere. Perhaps one can forgive teenagers for acting against their own interests in a moment of pure negative emotions, but the ending still bothers me because it just doesn’t fit.
It’s also awful how Shane easily agrees to celibacy to be with Pablo (Anthony G. Palacios). Shane is a horn dog, clear and simple, and while he does believe in love, he wouldn’t want to give up the physical side of a relationship so easily. Should Shane wrestle with the decision, that could make sense, but he jumps right in with no worries about being able to live up to his promise. This is more character inconsistency, and that’s what Faking It needs to be careful of going forward.
Still, usually the characters on this show are very well-defined, and there is some fantastic chemistry. Whether its the buddy relationship of Shane and Liam, or the way Amy pines and doesn’t want to admit she’s pining, there’s some better-than-decent writing and acting going on, especially with a young, mostly untested cast. Even when Karma gets narcissistic, there’s still a general style and tone that makes her sympathetic, a normal boy-crazy teenager with a good head on her shoulders who will come around.
Saving the half hour is the giant crack in Lauren’s (Bailey Buntain) shell. Dumped by her boyfriend, she tries to commiserate with new step-sister Amy. Buntain plays the part in such a way that it’s obvious there’s more there than just a mean girl, even if that’s mostly the purpose Lauren serves so far. Offering the olive branch now is perfect for Lauren; they are at a wedding, she’s feeling dejected and without friends in her new town. Of course she chooses now to reach out. It’s a shame Amy, while not batting her away, doesn’t reciprocate.
Faking It is pretty steady for most of its freshman run, so it could be that the writers just slip up a little in trying to build a memorable season finale. Hopefully, it will reign itself back in next year and live up to what it should be, a half hour that’s more drama than comedy, but with a light, amusing charm. I don’t champion many series on MTV, but overall, this one is proving itself worth the watch. If you haven’t been following Faking It, check it out before season two begins.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00KP5U5SM,B00JU985R2]