MTV’s “Faking It” continued its pattern of jaw-dropping cliffhangers in its mid-season finale, which premiered on Nov. 25. The show has solidified its voice throughout the second season, and it shows in the finale, “Busted”; the writers are fleshing out the characters’ backstories, and the actors are learning that subtlety isn’t their strong suit, so they aren’t even trying anymore — which actually works. “Faking It” has found the balance between being ironically dramatic, and just real enough to keep people interested.

Faking It

Mid-Season Finale
Tuesday at 10:30 p.m.

In “Busted,” Amy (Rita Volk, “The Hungover Games”) is desperately trying to get Karma (Katie Stevens, “American Idol”) to stand still long enough for her to apologize for sleeping with Liam (Gregg Sulkin, “Avalon High”), Karma’s boyfriend. The following scenes fraught with friendship drama have a comical backdrop of a holding cell as Karma’s parents get themselves (and Karma) thrown in jail for selling “special brownies.” Amy punches a cop to get herself thrown in jail too, determined to get a chance to apologize. Their argument reaches a climax as she histrionically dangles half of a “best friends” heart necklace over a prison toilet, asking Karma if she’s going to literally flush their friendship away. Karma tearfully stops her, and the two begin to slowly repair their relationship. While this did seem abrupt, the writers ensure the audience knows it won’t be an easy return to the friendship the two had before.

The cliffhanger unfolds with three quick shots of Amy hooking up with her current girlfriend, Karma and then Liam — only to be revealed as a dream. The ending is confusing, as it at first seems like it’s Amy who is dreaming, but it nonetheless gets the point across: Karma doesn’t have any better control over her feelings than Amy has. Fans rooting for “Karmy” — the official couple name for the two of them — may still have hope.

While Amy and Karma’s relationship dynamic has stayed more or less predictable throughout the season, as the audience knew Karma’s discovery of Amy’s betrayal was inevitable, the secondary characters are becoming more adept at stealing the spotlight. The show is explores in depth the concept and consequences of “outing” people, as Shane (Michael J. Willett, “G.B.F.”) purposefully outs his secret boyfriend as gay and Lauren (Bailey de Young, “Bunheads”) accidentally outs herself as intersex to the whole school.  The latter is especially interesting, as it’s a concept that has yet to be explored as thoroughly on television shows. Lauren never meant for the whole school to know her secret, and she is surprised when she receives an outpouring of support for her campaign for class president. Yet she goes along with it, despite the fact she hasn’t fully accepted that part of herself. This saga sets up an interesting story arc for the second half of the season, perhaps the most engaging subplot of the series.

As a show with multiple LGBTQIA characters, “Faking It” has the potential to offend, and some of the jokes are admittedly less tasteful than others. But despite some hackneyed themes and throwaway one-liners, “Faking It” simply works by exploring the more fluid aspects of teenage sexuality in a slightly more pronounced way than that of popular shows in the past (“Degrassi,” “Glee,” “Skins,” etc.). The directorial choices in “Faking It” are sometimes questionable, and the only actor with any measure of subtlety at all is Volk; but for a half hour MTV series, it has enough legitimate social commentary thrown in among the hit-or-miss jokes and cheap one-liners to work, and keep people invested in the only slightly farcical lives of “Karmy” and co.

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