Monday, August 31, 2015

REVIEW: 'Faking It' - Change Comes to Hester High While Amy and Karma Attempt to Rebuild Their Friendship in 'Stripped'

MTV's Faking It - Episode 2.11 "Stripped"

When a new Principal cracks down on Hester, Shane leads a revolt. Amy suspects Karma is hiding something.

It has been a long time since Faking It has aired a new episode - the last one debuted in November 2014! In the show's timeline, only two weeks have passed between the two episodes. Everyone is still dealing with the fallout of Karma learning about Liam and Amy sleeping together, Karma's parents being arrested, Theo being an undercover cop and Shane outing his boyfriend, Duke. That last episode was so fantastic with those emotional revelations. Now the characters are starting to move on from that. There is a certain amount of introduction in this first episode back. But it still has a handful of strong character moments as well that keep things just as emotional.

Things are still very raw between Karma, Amy and Liam. Karma decided to forgive the two of them for what they did. But that doesn't mean she is willing to trust them again. They betrayed her in a major way. It's going to take time for her to be okay and comfortable around them again. In "Stripped," she is interacting with Amy and Liam again but isn't being genuine with them. There is still a wall between them. Karma is just going through the motions of what the friendships used to be. She's allowing Amy and Liam into her life. But she's not opening up to them like the way she did before. She is entirely justified to do so too. She is in pain and doesn't feel like she can open up to her best friend the way she did before because it was Amy who hurt her in the first place. Amy and Liam desperately want things to go back to normal. They still have so much love for Karma and want to be happy again. Karma doesn't reciprocate those feelings. She is closed-off and unwilling to open herself up to these people.

But Amy knows Karma better than anyone else in the world. She knows that she is not acting like herself. She understands why but she wants their friendship to get past this big obstacle. Karma would rather lie to Amy about her family's living situation than trust her with the truth. That's the real sign that things aren't alright between the two. Of course, Amy sticks her head into the situation and forces Karma to tell her the truth. It's a raw and vulnerable moment for Karma. Her family has lost nearly everything because of the arrest. Karma needs to rely on someone and she's uncertain if that person can still be Amy. Amy wants it to be. But that doesn't make things suddenly better between the two. But they are talking - which is a great first step.

Liam wants to be talking with Karma as well. Instead, she just wants to have sex with him on a regular basis and not do anything else that's in a relationship. Liam is madly in love with her. He still holds out hope that everything will be fine between the two of them eventually. He's a little too hopelessly romantic though. He's so blinded by his love for Karma that he doesn't see that that is not something she can handle right now. He's professing his love for her to people he just met and sneaking up to her bedroom window at night. Those aren't rational actions. He's doing what he wants to do but he's not really taking into account what Karma is feeling. If he's patient, their relationship could return to what it was. But if he continues to force himself too far into her life, it could be over. Amy can do that with Karma but it's uncertain if Liam can as well.

Elsewhere, things are seemingly peaceful for Shane at the moment. But when the story digs below the surface, he has the potential to lose everything he loves and has worked so hard for as well. He finally has exactly what he wants in a relationship - a boyfriend who isn't afraid to be out in public with him. He loves flaunting the success of Duke. But he isn't able to enjoy that because of his crippling fear that Duke will find that he was the one who outed him in the first place. On top of that, Shane is slowly loosing his position of power amongst the Hester student body. He lost the class president election to Lauren because of the students' idea that she is brave for saying she's intersex. She isn't popular. But now, she has the ability to manipulate the students based on how they will react to any situation. Shane is horrified at the idea that major changes will be coming to Hester this season. The arrest of Karma's parents on campus meant the rules needed to change. That means a new principal has been chosen who wants to make this school much more traditional - just like Lauren.

Shane is still able to rally support around his cause. He wants to keep Hester unique. A place that is the champion for the little guy and the oddball. A place where everyone is welcome and loved. This school loves protests. Shane believes another one will be able to rid the school of these new changes. But Lauren has quickly become a very formidable opponent now that she has power. She is able to get public opinion on her side. That's a very miraculous feat. It's not something she could have done at the start of the series. Nor could she have done it if she were still dating Theo. Theo wants to make things right between them. But Lauren's anger is fueling her emotions and actions - which is an incredible story to see. It leaves Shane defeated and Hester facing new policies. An upheaval of the system is a fascinating story engine for this batch of episodes to deal with. The audience understands this setting. So now, it's the perfect time to test that foundation.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Stripped" was written by Carter Covington and directed by Jamie Travis.
  • Liam has also started his internship at his family's company. He is going through the motions of pretend happiness. He is willing to make small talk and interact with his co-workers in a pleasant way. But he's also not being himself. This might be an environment he has to know how to work in later in life though. He can't just mope around and yearn for Karma all the time. He will have to take some responsibility and mature a little.
  • The new principal and his son move into Karma's family's house because they have to rent it out in order to make money. That seems a little too unrealistic and designed to surprise the audience. No way the new principal of Hester is allowed to live in the house where the family that created the big scandal in the first place lived.
  • However, the new principal's son, Felix, is really cute. I can't wait to see how he interacts with everyone else.
  • Could Theo really be able to sneak back on campus again just because he's put on a disguise? 
  • It's definitely telling that Shane wanted to protest the new school rules because the document was so long - not because of anything he actually read in them.