While it’s famously been years since music videos could be found running regularly on MTV, the channel has recently been turning out a series of exceedingly smart programming that, while it’s made for teenagers, has become appointment TV for viewers of all ages.
The latest addition to that slate is Faking It, a series (premiering April 22) from Greek and 10 Things I Hate About You alum Carter Covington. The show follows two high-school best friends who are mistaken for a lesbian couple—and who decide to keep up the façade once it launches them to the top of the social ladder.
Here, Covington chats with DuJour about the series, his own school experience and what aspects of high school never actually change.
There’s something about the premise of this show, almost like it could be a 1980s movie. Where did the idea come from?
MTV actually approached me last year. They had this concept of two girls pretending to be gay in order to be popular, as well as the title, Faking It. They were looking for someone who had a strong take on that. I thought it might be fun to show a high school that has really evolved and embraces everyone; that would be why these girls would pretend to be gay. I pitched MTV this high school and they got really excited. And here we are.
The show’s about high school kids and it’s on MTV, but the humor’s not at all juvenile. It almost feels like a show about teenagers made for adults.
I think the best material written about high school speaks to everyone because we all went through it. When we’re in the writers’ room, I never think about whether this is what teenagers will like because I don’t know that. All I know is what I like and if it resonates with me and feels true to my high school experience. I hope it translates to people in high school now, but I also want people I know—my friends, my family—to enjoy the show. I just go with my own instincts.
How is the environment you’ve created different from your own high school experience?
For one, it’s a bit of wish fulfillment for me in terms of the school I wish I had gone to. The most popular kid in school on the show is gay and very open about it, which is not something that happened in my high school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. To have a school with such an accepting environment is so different from my experience. But the underlying issues of people wanting to fit in are the same as when I went to school. That’s a universal truth about that time in someone’s life.
What have you learned about today’s high-school students while working on the show?
When I was in school, while it wasn’t as tolerant we also weren’t living with social media like students these days are. Now feels like a much more intense time to be a teenager.
You’ve worked on some beloved TV series prior to this. Is there something that you think connects all of your work?
The through line to my work is that I like to balance comedy and drama. That’s very much present here. This is probably the most grounded show I’ve done; it feels the most based in the world that we live in now. I hope I’m evolving as a writer. I really wanted this project to feel like it spoke to the times we’re living in now. I wanted it to feel really current and fresh and different from the other offerings on television.
Other than the lie that propels the series, what can we expect to see in the first season?
The first eight episodes are packed with big turns and developments. Essentially, the lie that the girls tell in order to be cool takes on a life of its own and that’s most of the first season. We follow how they attempt to keep the lie up at school and in their home lives. We’ll see how it’s different for each of them. There are also two dance sequences, a school protest and a song. There’s a lot fun to look forward to.