Faking It: TV review

MTV continues to find the funny in teen melodrama with its new sitcom

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Photograph: Courtesy of MTV

Rita Volk as Amy, Michael Willett as Shane and Katie Stevens as Karma in Faking It

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Photograph: Courtesy of MTV

Katie Stevens as Karma and Rita Volk as Amy in Faking It

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Photograph: Courtesy of MTV

Michael Willett as Shane and Gregg Sulkin as Liam in Faking It

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Photograph: Courtesy of MTV

Gregg Sulkin as Liam and Katie Stevens as Karma in Faking It

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Photograph: Courtesy of MTV

Gregg Sulkin as Liam in Faking It

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Gregg Sulkin as Liam, Katie Stevens as Karma and Rita Volk as Amy in Faking It

Premieres Tuesday, April 21 at 9:30pm on MTV.

Most shows about high school come from the minds of people that haven't yet broken free of the baggage they picked up in their transition from adolescence to adulthood. Brimming with the pain and drama left over from the pain and rejection of being not quite an adult, the teen soap opera can be cathartic, but sometimes it's a lot more fun to laugh through the tears. MTV's latest series, Faking It, follows the model laid out by teen sitcom Awkward., churning the confusion and torment of being young into comic fuel.

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BFFs Amy (Rita Volk) and Karma (Katie Stevens) don't have the same issues that a lot of high school girls face. At their super cool Texas high school, the rules of popularity are turned upside down. Being artistic, nerdy or weird makes you popular, while being obsessed with being the queen bee will make you a social outcast. For Karma, she and her buddy's status is the worst: They are completely off the radar.

While she plots to come up with a way to distinguish themselves and climb the social ladder, an opportunity drops into their laps when gay student Shane (Michael Willett) mistakes the pair for lesbians. Convinced that Amy and Karma's denials are just nerves, he outs them publicly in a campaign to get them nominated as homecoming queens. Karma is ecstatic at the popularity that stems from everyone in the school thinking that she and Amy are a gay couple, especially when it snares the attention of hot artist Liam (Gregg Sulkin). Amy's reluctant, but the more she invests in faking her relationship with Karma, the more she's forced to confront the reality of her own sexuality.

Bubbly and fun, Faking It presents a fresh perspective of high school culture. Whether it's trying to get a pair of ladies elected to their homecoming court or protesting a tech company's offer to sponsor their school, this group of students is unlike any other seen on TV. Willett, who was wonderful in United States of Tara, is equally fabulous and energetic here, as is Bunheads' Bailey Buntain as a young Southern belle frustrated by being marooned in Austin. Volk, meanwhile, brings a lovely, grounded realism to the manic ensemble that solidifies Amy as the heart of the show. Stevens struggles to illustrate the humanity in Karma's desperate attempts to win the high school popularity contest, but her comic abilities tend to make up for it. Sulkin is the weak point of the young cast, failing to define himself beyond the role of boy candy.

Sure, high school is pain, but with the one-two punch of Awkward. and Faking It, MTV is proving that adolescent agony can be quite a laugh.

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