Tuesday, October 14, 2014

REVIEW: 'Faking It' - Laverne Cox Brings the Drama to Hester High and It's Amazing in 'Stupid Drama Queens'

MTV's Faking It - Episode 2.04 "Stupid Drama Queens"

Margot (Laverne Cox), the director of Hester High's elite drama club, holds auditions for the next member. The competition heats up amongst friends as Karma, Lauren and Shane show off their singing and dancing talents and compete for the one spot in the club. Amy crashes a ritzy party at Liam's mansion to make sure he keeps their secret.

Faking It took a step further into the heightened reality it lives in during "Stupid Drama Queens" and it was hilarious. The show embraces the "drama" that comes with Karma, Shane and Lauren auditioning for the drama club and the family dynamics Liam faces. The show never forgets the emotional realities of these characters but it is a lot of fun having these characters embrace a slightly more fantastical world.

The episode also welcomes a wonderful guest appearance from Orange Is the New Black star Laverne Cox as the hard-to-please director of the drama club. She is a lot of fun - and also apparently at nine years old found Connie Britton and made her a star. Karma, Lauren and Shane wonderfully exist in this world. And yet, they haven't had many interactions throughout the series. There is some overlap in their performance interests. Karma is a wonderful singer while Lauren and Shane are both great dancers. It's great seeing them excel in those challenges. But it's also exciting watching the people who aren't so great in them. Karma is not a great dancer so it's great seeing her get paired with Oliver as Lauren and Shane execute a fantastic routine. And then, there is Shane's singing voice which seems so uncharacteristic of him - and yet hilarious.

But the emotional climax of the drama club plot includes the actual acting challenge. That's the moment it all comes down to. They have to emotionally bare themselves in front of this elite club. It forces these three people to confront their own identity problems because Margot is very tuned in to the lives of Hester High students. She wants to know what makes Karma, Shane and Lauren different and unique. Shane doesn't have much to differentiate himself - other than his quick wit. Lauren has been struggling with her intersex identity all season long. This moment presents a strong opportunity for her to open herself up to the people around her. And yet, Theo is working backstage. He's a guy that she likes and she's not willing to share this secret for him to hear. That ultimately costs her the spot and it is tragic. But the truly rewarding moment comes when Karma talks openly about her relationship with Amy. Their breakup has pushed them out of the spotlight once again at school and she needs some explanation for why all of it was worth it.

And then, Amy crashes the Booker family party to make sure that Liam is not about to crack and tell Karma their secret. He's already told Shane and now she's willing to embarrass him in front of his family in order to guarantee his silence. We were teased about his family history in the protest episode last year when Karma was let in on who his family is. But now, Amy is here to pick up the emotional pieces of Liam dealing with his family. Despite the awkwardness between them, this is a strong dynamic and I'm glad this season is focusing more on it. She gets him to admit that his sister is actually his mother and that he doesn't fit into this world of power and money. He just wants to be an artist. And for right now, that is okay.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Stupid Drama Queens" was written by Wendy Goldman and directed by Joe Nussbaum.
  • Amy flirted with a server for a little bit. I wonder if that will ever be touched on again or quickly abandoned?
  • Of course, Lauren already had "Tomorrow" as her audition song.
  • Oliver ultimately won the drama club spot because he absolutely killed it during the emotional acting challenge - which the audience was not let in on. That greatly adds to the mystery.
  • Shane to Amy: "What does it all mean?"