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Why Every Lesbian Needs To Watch Faking It

Who knew MTV would push the boundaries of queer ladies on TV?

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When advertisements for Faking It started making their way across the web early this year, lesbian eyebrows everywhere were raised. A show about two straight girls pretending to be gay in order to become more popular? MTV could keep their tokenistic queer-baiting to themselves, thank you very much.

But the doubters turned out to be wrong. In the show, best friends Amy and Karma certainly do pretend to be lesbians at their progressive Austin high school where the outcasts are the cool kids. But their plan goes awry when Amy actually falls for Karma.

And that's where the show gets interesting. Far from being an offensive cliché, it actually serves as something of a clever inversion of a regular coming out story. Even so, Faking It has hit the big time in the US, but Australian lesbians are yet to catch on en masse. Here's why we should:

High school angst: Queer edition.

Via Tumblr

Faking It is basically a combination of Mean Girls and Glee, but (thankfully) without the spontaneous musical numbers. It’s one of a number of shows that focus on high school lesbian characters – South of Nowhere, Pretty Little Liars and Glee among them – but the way the LGBT relationships emerge and play out in Faking It is markedly different.

The setting is vital. At Hester High, being LGBT is not just fine, but an active source of social cred. (While many people aren’t lucky enough to enjoy such an idyllic scenario, those living in Sydney’s inner west might be able to empathise.) Although the fake lesbian plot was attention grabbing in the advertisements, it soon becomes clear that Amy’s real feelings for Karma are the actual story of the show.

Having already come out as a fake lesbian and won the admiration of her peers, Amy is left scared only of her own feelings and how her most trusted friend will react to them. Her predicament highlights that coming out to oneself is a difficult part of grappling with sexuality as a teenager, an aspect that is sometimes overshadowed by family or community pressure.

Characters who aren’t just two-dimensional Gay People TM.

Via Autostraddle.com

Amy hasn't proclaimed a definite sexuality for herself and this is a good thing. The show's writers have avoided declarations and had Amy hook up with women and men. And in this case, it appears to be because they want her story to be genuinely nuanced, not because they want to queer bait audiences. Let's be real: it is much more likely for a 16-year-old gaybie to have Amy's love life than to be an out and proud gold star lesbian in the space of a couple of months. So four for you, Faking It writers, you go, Faking It writers.

Another interesting LGBT storyline lies in openly gay Shane's love interest, Duke. He has a public profile and doesn't want to be outed – usually, a nod to somebody being ashamed of their sexuality. But as you learn more about his character, you realise he is supported by his family and happy in his own identity, and that his decision to not come out is a purely professional one. By contrast, Shane is out and proud and doesn't seem to have ever been particularly troubled by his sexuality. It's a refreshing continuation of a wide range of attitudes towards being LGBT in Faking It.

An intersex character who is so much more than intersex.

Via Tumblr

So, TV shows do this thing where they represent an LGBT person in a show and the fact that the person is lesbian, or trans, or whatever is always the most interesting thing about them, which is really code for: 'We can't be bothered to make this person a character beyond their sexuality/gender identity'. But in Faking It, they get it right, with the character of Lauren (Amy's stepsister) who comes out as intersex.

Lauren is the most likeable Republican on TV – possibly ever – and a seriously funny and interesting character. She also happens to be intersex. And while her coming out as intersex is a major storyline for her character, it is not the sole feature around which her personality revolves.

A Laverne Cox cameo.

Via MTV

Laverne Cox appears as a wonderfully batshit drama teacher at Hester High. She's totally harsh and weird and awesome. You're left with many questions after her appearance, but mostly just "Why isn't she in every episode?".

The show isn't perfect.

Some of the supporting cast are people of colour, like Theo, who joins the cast in season 2, and Vashti Nadira, the unusually committed curator of the school Tumblr. But the entire main cast is white.

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