“Faking It’ stars Rita Volk and Katie Stevens talk gay representation, reading their fan fic

 
 

AE: In terms of the journeys of both the characters, I think Faking It is really of the moment and kind of captures the zeitgeist in not labeling its characters and really being about all the uncertainty. I know both of you are a few years out of high school, so how did you feel about the premise? Did it ring true to you, were you kind of taken aback by the idea that we live in a time where it could be advantageous to pretend to be a lesbian? How did it compare to your own high school experiences. 

RV: My high school—in terms of cliques and those common stereotypes—wasn’t as defined as television. We did have gay kids.  Now that I think about it, actually, I remember this one guy in particular and he was very much involved with everything, very confident. Kinda like Shane, in a way. He wasn’t the school victim; he was really cool. And I think there is something to be said in our society right now, especially in LA, where the gay community is very prevalent and it’s becoming something to be proud of.  Obviously that’s not the case everywhere. But hopefully it’s something that will ring true with time, and something people can look at and say “well this isn’t exactly what high school is like now.”

There aren’t that many environments where people can come out and just be hailed for it. There are a lot of different environments, some of which aren’t welcoming at all, and which could even be dangerous, and that’s the unfortunate reality. So we hope that Hester can be something that people can look at like maybe one day we can have something like this. Which I believe in, because I think that art can imitate life but life can imitate art just as much. And I always wonder, all of these stereotypes that we see in television—the jocks and the cheerleaders—how does that translate into real life? Do we have these things in real life because the media has pushed that idea down our throats that this is what high school is like? So maybe now we can do something positive and create something like Hester to become the new mold for things.

Rita Volk

The cast of MTV's "Faking It"Photo by Clinton Gaughran for AfterEllen.com

AE: I like that. Kind of social science fiction. 

KS: There’s so much in the show where we even we watch it like, “Ha ha, that’s such a satire.” Our show is very satirical and that’s part of what makes it funny, that we poke fun at, for example, how people in the media are so obsessed with people’s lives and who’s dating who and who’s breaking up. That’s why I thought episode seven was so funny how Karma was making them do this celebrity breakup. Like how kids read these magazines and watch these movies and expect that’s how it should be. And, like Rita said, I feel like a lot of the reason we have cliques in school is because kids watch it on TV.  Like, somebody once said that playing football and being a cheerleader will make you popular. And if we had had things that said that the kids in theater and in the band were popular, then that would be the norm.  Not that we’re trying to start a revolution, but to make little steps to do that, so people aren’t going to school and feeling like they have no way out and feeling like they can’t be themselves.

AE: Speaking of obsession, I have to ask how you feel about the Karmy shippers. 

KS: I’m terrified for MTV; if they don’t find out about Season 2 they’re gonna flip out and start a riot. But they’re so amazing and supportive of us. I feel like we’re role models. Because a lot of people in the Karmy Army are from the gay community, and it’s amazing, because we realized when making this show that young teens who are questioning their sexuality or who are coming out…I don’t think they really have role models on television or shows about them and what they go through.  But we’ve had people come up to us and say “thank you for making this show.  I realized I was a lesbian when I fell in love with my best friend in high school.” And we realized that when making it, but it’s such a rewarding thing to hear, that we are making those kids’ stories through our show and we’re giving them a voice.

AE: Have you read any of your fan fic yet?

Both: Yes!

AS: I actually read some fan fiction yesterday and I was like, “WOW FIFTY SHADES OF GREY.”

RV: I think our director actually sent us something and it gets very explicit, I must say.

AE: Oh yeah, they go for it.

RV: I didn’t know, and I was like WOW. But to add on to what Katie said, I actually just read an article about our show, and it was talking about gay characters on television and they mentioned Tara from Buffy.  I don’t know if you watched that show or…

AE: YES OBVIOUSLY.

RV: I’m a huge fan, and I remember being 12 or 13 years old and being a part of that group of kids and girls that were so fervently passionate about that show. Because it really was about female empowerment and there really were not that many shows out there where the main character was a female and she was kicking ass and doing all these things that previously were for men. And then you had this lesbian undertone as well with Willow and Tara and the article mentioned that.

So to put us into that realm is really mind-blowing for me, especially for me, because I was a part of a cult following and now our show is getting a cult following and the cool thing about our show is, not only are their lesbian characters but the show is about those characters. They’re not second rate and they’re not guest stars. It’s about them. And now we have this group of girls who are so passionate about this relationship and we give them that outlet.  It’s really an honor to see that fanbase grow because it’s a very particular kind of fandom and it really is a cult following in the best of ways.

AE: Okay so just as a side note, Rita, you went to Duke right?

RV (confused and unsure where I am going with this): …I did, yeah.

AE: I just wanted to tell you that I’m in Duke Forest right now.

RV: ARE YOU REALLY?

AE: My mom lives right on the border.  I’m a Tar Heel so I’m obligated to dislike you, but it’s not personal.

RV: No, I come in peace. Really, I try to be diplomatic. I’m not that big of a basketball fan, anyway.

AE: Good, then I can portray you in a positive light.

The Faking It season finale is tonight and we will be interviewing showrunner Carter Covington tomorrow to discuss the many, many feelings we have about it.

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