Shows like Faking It are ushering in an era of (pretty, well-lit, and ok, largely whitewashed) queer normalcy on TV. Is this new normal here to stay?
I have this thing with MTV teen shows where they all look kind of shiny and plastic, and the characters don’t really get fully fleshed out, and the loud promo-intro part kind of gives me epilepsy. (You know, basically Glee after Season 1.)
So when Faking It came onto my radar, although I had read interviews with Carter Covington and I was ready to give the show a chance, I have to admit that it was hard to get into. And I pretty much stayed on the fence all through Season 1. It was mildly entertaining, but I was pretty dubious as to whether they could really do this right.
But I was catching up on Season 2 last night, kind of half-watching episodes 7 and 8 while I read stuff on my phone (you know that’s how the kids these days do it too), and all of a sudden I realized something, and kind of got goosebumps, and looked up and started really watching.
Because: every single storyline revolved around a queer character (or Lauren, who has AIS).
Because: every moment of it was perfectly normal. They weren’t the queer characters or the queer storylines. It was all just stuff that was happening to them.
It’s so hard to explain the difference, but you know it when you see it. It’s the difference between “so I’m seeing this GIRL” (after-school special style) and “so I’m seeing this girl,” real-life normal style. It marks a real evolution from the days when actors played THAT GAY CHARACTER or worked on THAT GAY SHOW.
Now, instead of playing THE LESBIAN, Rita Volk just gets to play Amy. Life is complicated for Amy. She fell in love with her best friend. She slept with her best friend’s boyfriend (oops). Now she’s dating superhot DJ
Carmen De La Pica Morales Reagan (OK, we’ll allow a few cliches).
But here is what Amy is not: doubting her sexuality, feeling guilty when kissing her girlfriend, coming out over-dramatically, getting gay-bashed, watching all of her sex scenes fade too quickly to black, or disappearing into a parking lot.
Visibility matters. But we’ve had visibility for awhile now. It’s time to go beyond visible, and get to normal. That tide has turned, thanks to shows like Faking It. We’ve come a long way since The Truth About Jane, and our cultural landscape is a better and safer place because of that.