The rise of television and movies including plotlines centered around the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is nothing new.
“Modern Family” has been doing it for years, and it has won more than a handful of Emmys while at it. “Glee” has thrived from it and continues to use its LGBT characters in its transition from a show about high school glee clubbers to struggling performers trying to make it in the big city. In its first season, Netflix hit “Orange Is the New Black” has already gone above and beyond the norm of LGBT characters by including a full cast of queer women on its show.
Seeing the success these shows have had including the LGBT community in their scripts, it should come as no surprise that MTV has to decided to jump on board and introduce a new show with queer characters of its own.
The show is called “Faking It” and stars newcomers Rita Volk and Katie Stevens as two best friends who decide pretending to be gay and in love is their quickest ticket to high school popularity. If that sentence made you hesitate, you aren’t alone.
The show’s plot has received its fair share of criticism from LGBT advocates, and the trailer was even released in a BuzzFeed exclusive titled, “MTV’s Fake-Lesbian Series Aims To Inspire, Not Offend.” After watching the trailer myself, I think MTV could easily fall short of this goal and get ‘“Faking It” wrong, but I also see all the opportunities it has to get it right.
The show’s premise has shifted slightly since its original pitch as a show about two straight girls who fake being lesbians to become popular. Now one of those girls has a crush on the other, and the trailer suggests the potential for a new story about falling in love with your straight best friend, which some LGBT teens can identify with.
If done wrong, though, “Faking It” could further the false idea that LGBT-identified people have no boundaries, and they will pursue someone despite knowing they are straight and clearly not interested. Done right, “Faking It” could illuminate the real process many teens go through when coming to terms with their sexual orientation or gender identity and in the process discredit the stereotype.
Done wrong, the show could present sexuality as a choice and give anti-gay advocates yet another thing to use in their tirade against the LGBT community. Done right, it could still present its characters’ sexuality as-is but show that even if that were a choice, it’s still not a valid reason to discriminate.
Done wrong, “Faking It” could leave marginalized sectors of the LGBT community in the dust by focusing its attention on oversexualizing two seemingly bicurious white girls. Done right, “Faking It” could introduce queer people of color to its cast and even be at the forefront of including real representations of bisexuality on mainstream TV.
In our media-driven world, “Faking It” could have real potential to change public perception about what it means to be a part of the LGBT community, and truly fulfil its goal to inspire and not offend. On top of that, MTV could establish itself as a network that strives to present the LGBT community accurately and further progress toward social equality. When the show premieres later this month, I plan on watching with a critical eye to see which direction “Faking It” takes.