When MTV first began to promote its new teen show Faking It, the show came under a lot of fire before the first episode had even come out. That should come as no surprise, considering the premise. Two girls, Amy and Karma, pretend to be lesbians in order to become popular at their alternative Texas high school. When the pilot episode proved nowhere near as incendiary as people assumed, most critics went about their lives elsewhere. However, Faking It was renewed for season two from what fan base it managed to build around the controversy and the second season will be the show's chance to correct the mistakes it's made so far. According to EW, Orange is the New Black's Laverne Cox will join Faking It as a guest star and that's a huge step in the right direction.
One of the biggest criticisms about Faking It was how it undermines the LGBT teen experience. Not only are their sexualities being appropriated by two straight white leads for popularity, but their struggles are downplayed by making Hester High School the kind of place where the most popular boy in school is a gay man. At least, that was the general idea, but the show didn't quite live up to that.
While Amy and Karma's popularity skyrocketed to the point of the whole school being invested in whether or not they break up and doing interviews with the school public access channel, Shane, the supposed most popular guy in school played by gay actor Michael Willett, seems to take a popularity downgrade. Liam might be his best friend, but Shane spends what time he doesn't spend with Liam with Amy or Lauren. You would think being so popular would allow him to have more friends than that, especially considering he only started hanging out with the latter two after the pilot.
Worse, Shane is the character who gets the least development on the show. He doesn't get his own storyline and love interest until toward the end of the season and even then his storyline is shared with Lauren and Liam and comes secondary or even tertiary to everything else going on in the episode. Sure, we still have main character Amy who has a poignant central storyline about coming to accept her sexuality and feelings for Karma, but considering Amy is played by a straight female you would think the creators would put at least some effort into giving their single gay actor more plots and attention.
Adding Cox to Faking It season two could indicate that the creators are looking to change that. Cox will guest star as Magot, director of Hester High's drama club who considers herself a big fish in a small pond. There is a lot of potential for development in playing Shane off of someone like Margot and the impact of that single episode could make a world of difference in making Faking It more LGBT friendly. It's obvious that they want to be and it's obvious that they are trying to treat the delicate subject matter with respect. Hiring more actors who represent a wider variety of sexuality and gender backgrounds is a step in the right direction.
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