After reading about the concept of what MTV’s new lesbian-centric show will entail (airing April 22 at 10:30 p.m.), my initial thoughts on it were that the show had the potential to be very successful depending upon how the storyline was going to be presented. The idea of faking one’s sexual identity to earn social acceptance at any age whether it’s in school, on the field of play or in the workplace is unfortunately probably the most of common of issues that we all have had to face throughout our lives. The idea that being an openly identified LGBT person will produce negative outcomes on one’s life is something that, for many of us, we have had to unlearn and evolve on just as society as evolved. Things have come a long way, though, so much so that this show represents the opposite being true. Being gay is “cool.” To ingrain the idea that “gay equals cool” can potentially yield very positive results as far as the show’s impact goes on MTV’s young audience.
I will concede that MTV and its sister network, VH-1, have done a good bit to push the ball forward on LGBT issues over the years. Its parent company, Viacom, which owns entities such as LOGO and sites like AfterEllen (which is under the LOGO banner), has maintained a solid reputation in this regard. Despite Viacom and MTV having produced socially relevant but often controversially negative shows like Jersey Shore, I do give them credit for often times tackling serious social topics that matter to young people.
Shows like The Real World, while never really representing the “real world,” did make a point to touch on some serious issues over the years including the introduction of LGBT characters on its shows. It touched on subjects like HIV, homophobia, transphobia, and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at times when it was one of the first to do so in a tangible way. The Real World put a human face on those subjects and allowed its characters to come out on camera and tell their stories in ways that were compelling. MTV always seemed to be ahead of its time because of its forward-thinking programming.
MTV’s Faking It storyline does, however, press on a thin line that could be counterproductive and promote the wrong message depending upon how it is scripted. For many women who genuinely love other women, we are sometimes resentful of straight women using the appeal of lesbianism to earn male attention. Lesbianism in the media is acceptable, but it’s often times based on conditions. One condition is that it’s okay for women to “get it on” on camera as long they are both beautiful and feminine. Both terms which are defined and measured by what straight people think is beautiful and feminine more so than anything else.
We also often times find TV show and movie scripts where there is a female character who dips her feet in the lady pool but somehow the girl does not end up with the girl, but rather predictably ends up with the guy. The challenge for Faking It is to avoid the usual plotlines and stereotypes and to be ambitious in what they want to show to be about. Will it be just another cable network show that is seeking to use lesbians as a means of driving ratings or will it be different? The trailer for the show indicates that it may avoid this trap and maybe the girls don’t end up faking it in the end after all. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. I have faith that MTV’s Faking It will do good things and I’m looking forward to watching it.