If I told you MTV was premiering a new series about two high school girls who pretend to be in a relationship with each other in order to get attention from guys, how offended would you be on a scale from one to ten? I started off at eleven, but after reading what showrunner Carter Covington had to say about the project, I’m not so sure how I feel.
Covington tells Buzzfeed that he was initially put off by the concept of the show, called Faking It, when MTV approached him, but that he came around to the idea over time. He talks about a revelation he had while working for The Trevor Project, an LGBT crisis hotline:
I had a caller one night who said, ‘I’m worried that my friends are only my friends because I’m gay.’ I was shocked. The idea seemed so foreign to me given the world I grew up in, but this kid explained that he went to a very tolerant high school where being gay was like a badge of honor. That’s when I realized there are schools out there where being gay is no longer a problem, and tolerance is viewed as an asset. It made me think Faking It could work if we set it in a high school like that and had one of the girls actually have a crush on her best friend.
Hmm! On the one hand, young people who are comfortable identifying as LGBT really don’t need more people reinforcing the idea that they’re confused, faking it for attention, or just looking for something to explain away their problems. On the other hand, it’s definitely time for some gay narratives that don’t focus around tragedy, and even though treacherous coming out stories are very important, there isn’t a lot of media that caters to non-straight kids who grow up feeling relatively safe and accepted.
The other thing that dangles in the back of my head, though, is that it’s pretty irritating to insist that teenagers be comfortable enough with their sexuality that they have to choose to be empirically Straight or Gay. We put so much stigma on kids “experimenting,” as if every teen relationship isn’t some kind of experiment to begin with. Maybe Faking It is a step in the right direction, but hopefully our kids will grow up seeing LGBT characters on TV who can live happy, healthy, normal lives without having to be in the middle of an identity crisis.
Since we only have one trailer to go off of, I’m not going to make any big declarations about how I think this show is going to affect the world– but The Trevor Project does really great work, so I trust that Covington isn’t going into this show with bad intentions. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. You can watch the trailer here.
Via Buzzfeed / Photo: MTV