April 23, 2014

THE SKED Series Premiere Review: “Faking It”


FAKING IT:  Tuesday 10:30PM on MTV

FAKING IT is intended as the companion piece to MTV’s hit scripted comedy Awkward., which serves as its lead-in, but on the basis of its pilot, it has nothing like the original comic voice of Lauren Iungerich’s show (of course, now that Iungerich has stepped away from Awkward., it remains to be seen whether that series will still have the voice it started with).

Like Awkward., Faking It has aspirations of being a neo-John Hughesian high school comedy, in which the lovable misfits take center stage.  It imagines a high school in Austin, Texas so counterculture that the cool kids are the social-minded liberals and artists–but even with the usual high school social system turned topsy-turvy, being ordinary still makes you dull and unpopular.  That’s where lifelong BFFs Amy (Rita Volk) and Karma (Katie Stevens) find themselves, and it drives Karma crazy–enough so that she embraces a fellow student’s delighted but erroneous assumption that she and Amy are lesbians, and convinces Amy to agree to the pretense and even run as homecoming queens.

That’s pretty much all Faking It has, and it wastes no time in taking that gimmick in the obvious directions.  Not even a commercial break elapses in the pilot before supposedly gay Karma is making out with cute guy Liam (Gregg Sulkin), having instantly become comfortable talking to boys, while mean girl Lauren (Bailey Buntain, from the late great Bunheads), Amy’s new stepsister-to-be (her father and Amy’s mother are engaged), is the only one who knows the pair are only pretending.  The last minute of the pilot suggests that Amy might actually be gay, or at least romantically interested in Karma, a fact that’s meant to come as an utter shock to her.

The writing credits for Faking It indicate a tangled road to the air, with Dana Goodman and Julia Lea Wolov credited as “creators” and for the pilot story, while Carter Covington (whose previous shows include the TV version of 10 Things I Hate About You, Greek, and Hart of Dixie) gets “developed by” and the pilot script credit.  So it appears Covington is now in charge, and perhaps he’ll bring more to later episodes.  For now, the only thing interesting about the project is how long it can stretch out its limited premise, and how it will tiptoe through its potential minefield of political correctness, especially with the Amy character.  The pilot’s dialogue doesn’t have any of the flair or originality that Iungerich brings to Awkward., and Faking It also lacks that show’s madcap affection for even its sketchiest characters.

Pilot director Jamie Travis doesn’t bring much to the look of the initial half-hour, which is mostly High School Single-Camera Sitcom 101 (it can’t help that MTV’s budgets are notoriously low), although the performances are mostly well-modulated, avoiding the overdone quality that can afflict young actors forced to shoot their scenes quickly.  Volk and Stevens are likable, and we know from Bunheads that Buntain can do more than serve as an easy foil for the heroines.  Faking It will have the benefit of its Awkward. lead-in for its 8 episodes this spring, which should help it in the ratings, but will eventually have to show signs of some inspiration or depth.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."