What happens when two teenagers accidentally build (and lose) one of North America's largest fake ID empires? You get FAKES, a new YA crime comedy from Netflix and CBC Gem. The series, which premieres on Sept. 2, follows 17-year-old lifelong pals Zoe Christensen (Emilija Baranac) and Rebecca Li (Jennifer Tong) as they build their business and earn more cash than they know what to do with. When they move into a “sick” downtown Vancouver penthouse, the feds catch up to them, and their good thing comes to an end. “Yeah, this is as bad as it looks, and trust me, it just gets worse,” Zoe warns in a fourth-wall-breaking scene previewed in the FAKES trailer, debuting exclusively on Bustle.
Cue a montage of the teens unwittingly diving into a high-stakes forgery scheme that puts their friendship — and their lives — on the line. When only one of them goes to jail, the truth of their ultimate betrayal gets murky. Each episode is told from one friend’s often conflicting perspective. “You’ll often see the same scene in two episodes with slight differences,” Baranac explains to Bustle. “Zoe and Rebecca are fighting for the last word, which leaves the audience on the edge of their seat trying to figure out what actually happened.”
Calling FAKES a “fresh and fun take on a high school friendship,” Baranac, who previously appeared in Riverdale and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, also says viewers will relate to Zoe’s and Rebecca’s “complex and messy” sides. “Hopefully, audiences will resonate with the characters in some capacity, whether they see their experiences represented or being reminded of that one friend they haven't heard from in a while and feeling inspired to reach out.”
Tong, for her part, previews the series more bluntly: “What audiences can expect and get excited for is for sh*t to get f*cked,” she says, billing FAKES as “equal parts comedy and drama, heartwarming and heartbreaking, and just a whole lot of fun.”
The DC's Legends of Tomorrow actor also shares that the show’s handling of Rebecca’s Asian identity is something that sets it apart. “It’s not about her being Asian,” Tong explains. “She rebels against the typical stereotypes that are pushed onto Chinese women and is a fully-fleshed out character with unbelievable charms and fatal flaws.”
Filming the series in her Canadian hometown also allowed Tong to “show off” some of her favorite parts of Vancouver to the cast and crew, namely Baranac. Both leads use the words “dream” and “partners-in-crime” to describe their working relationship.
Unlike their FAKES characters' conflicting accounts in the show, that’s one place where the actors’ offscreen versions of events align perfectly.