Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pilot Talk 2014: Faking It

Every TV season, networks bring out a new crop of shows, in hopes that they'll be the next big hit.  Pilot Talk is devoted to figuring out whether these shows are worth your time based on the first episode.

Tuesdays at 10:30 PM on MTV

At one point in the pilot, Karma (Katie Stevens) describes her best friend Amy (Rita Volk) as "the Fey to her Poehler."  It may not be an accurate statement in terms of how funny the two leads in MTV's Faking It are, but it's pretty indicative of the level of friendship between the two of them.  If there's one thing that the show gets right, it's the main relationship at the center.  Karma and Amy are very believable as two unpopular best friends who get roped into pretending to be lesbians in order to gain more attention, but that's not the only thing the show has.  For one, it also stars Bailey Buntain of Bunheads (the best show of 2013) fame as Amy's high strung stepsister, Lauren.  Additionally, on paper, the idea of this high school being so hyper-accepting that two girls coming out as lesbians would make them the most popular people in school is delightfully bizarre.

Yet for every good quality of Faking It, there's something that drags it down.  As much as Buntain tries to bring some of her fantastic nervous energy into this show, it's not enough to help the fact that her character is a mean girl cliche.  And not only is the premise of the show trite teen comedy fodder, many of the other details are pretty hoary too.  Just because there's a spin put on the story doesn't mean we don't get bogged down in love triangles, petty squabbles, and conflicts based on simple misunderstandings.  Faking It seems like the kind of show that wants to have its cake and eat it too.  There's this heightened world that it's set in -- one that is neither sharp nor silly enough -- but it also wants to sell the emotional moments that it plays straight.  It also has that MTV mark of trying to hard to be edgy, substituting explicit language for actual wit, and delivering a mishmash of jokes.  In that way, it's makes a perfect pairing with the neutered 4th season of Awkward.

Grade: C+

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