Tuesday, March 15, 2016

REVIEW: 'Faking It' - Amy and Karma Struggle with Change After a Summer Away From Each Other in 'It's All Good'

MTV's Faking It - Episode 3.01 "It's All Good"

Amy returns to Austin and is surprised by changes in Karma. Liam is jealous of Shane's new friendship.

Season 3 of Faking It picks up a couple of months after the second season finale ended. The show has embraced a summer of change for all of the characters. Amy has had a fun time touring the country. Karma and Shane have bonded over being lifeguards. Liam searched for his biological father and got plenty of answers. Lauren became a viral star following her passionate plea to the school board to keep Hester High open. It was a summer of change where most of the characters were separated from one another. And now, they are coming back in order to prepare for another school year. They return believing that they have embraced change and become better people. And yet, it is easy to say that you've changed. It's much harder to have actually done it. That's the tension that runs throughout "It's All Good." Everyone wants to be different and better than before. But that's something that is much more difficult to achieve in reality.

Amy and Karma's lives have been intertwined for so long. They have a deep connection with each other. That dynamic has really been good for both of them. And yet, it has also been very complicated as well. They need each other in their lives but that has become more difficult to do following Amy's realization that she has feelings for Karma. She left for the summer in order to process those feelings and truly get over her. During the school year, she jumped from relationship to relationship in order to avoid dealing with these complicated feelings. She left for a couple of months in order to ensure that she and Karma could still have a future together. It was a painful choice for both characters. But it's not one that Amy feels sorry about. She truly does return feeling like she has worked through all of her feelings towards Karma. And now, they can go back to being each other's best friend and growing old together. However, Amy worked through these feelings while away from Karma. She ran away. It can be so much easier to get over someone when distance is involved. Amy had a fun summer. But she still falls back into familiar patterns the second she returns home - and most of them revolve around Karma.

Meanwhile, Karma was devastated when Amy chose to leave. The last time she had a severe breakup like that she had a terrible downward spiral. This had the potential to be even worse because Amy meant so much to her. And yet, she found a place where she belonged as well. She truly embraced the community of lifeguards that formed at the pool. They quickly became friends and spoke their own inside language. Not even Shane's presence was enough to derail this new world of opportunity. In fact, they were able to become friends over the shared experiences they had over the summer. It's really freaky too. Karma and Shane have never really understood each other before. So, it's so startling to see them be so close now. That's the biggest change in this episode. It's not fake either. It's a genuine connection built on this time together. They have grown a lot because they stayed in town. They have moved on with their lives after Amy and Liam left. So when their best friends return wanting to pick up where they left things off, it's a bit more difficult to do.

The events of this episode show just how little anyone has really changed over these past few months. Amy has learned more about the world and her own sexuality. Liam has discovered that he has some Jewish heritage. And yet, both of them once again become obsessed with Karma. This party doesn't play out the same way that the last one did. Karma is willingly choosing to participate in this event because she is surrounded with her new friends who have embraced her for who she is. She is no longer the woman that Amy and Liam knew. Of course, that is further complicated by the fact that not even Karma is sure if this is the world that she wants to be living in right now either. Part of this does play as her acting out against Amy. She is still very hurt by Amy's decision to leave for the summer. She wants Amy to be sorry about that. She isn't. So, they are at a standstill with neither one willing to back down. That is just as emotionally devastating as when Amy decided to leave. The world has changed but these two still have such a strong history and connection. Not even a little bit of change can disrupt that. But they are still not on the same page either. So instead, they push each other away and embrace others. It's not going to be easy for the two of them to work their way back to each other. A lot has changed even if they haven't. And that is a very compelling setup for this season.

The Amy-Karma stuff works really well in this premiere. The other plots are a little bit more scattered and forced. Liam is just as upset to return to town to see just how much Shane has changed. He feels him pushing away in order to be with his new lifeguard friends. Shane keeps pivoting the conversation away from himself - something that he would never willingly do. But Shane's not doing this for some big ulterior motive. He just sees this party as the last big event of the summer for him to hang out with all of his new friends. Once the school year begins, he'll see them less - except for Karma. Meanwhile, Liam is overly jealous because it seems that both Karma and Shane have left him. He can get over Karma. He is now officially dating Zita. But he can't get over losing his friendship with Shane. To see him partying it up with Karma's new boyfriend, Dylan, is a huge betrayal of sorts for Liam. Of course, it's not something that the two friends can't work out once they actually talk with each other. It's rather simple too. Nothing has really changed with this dynamic. It just needed some tension in it in order to belong thematically with the rest of the premiere.

Some more thoughts:
  • "It's All Good" was written by Carter Covington and directed by Jamie Travis.
  • Lauren's "friends" who do her bidding haven't really been all that important as characters. So, it probably wasn't all that necessary for there to be an entire plot about replacing one of them. And yet, it continued to do a great job in showing that Lauren doesn't like to share the spotlight no matter how much she likes the other person.
  • It's still a little weird that Amy and Lauren are still acting like sisters even though Farrah and Bruce have separated. And yet, that episode-concluding hug was more than worth it. To Amy, it was something she really needed in that moment. To Lauren, it was something completely unexpected and her reaction was priceless.
  • No update on Felix at all. He became a meaningful part of the show's ensemble last season. And yet, Amy doesn't think to ask about what happened to him when she learns that Karma's family got their house back.
  • All of the jokes about Hawains didn't really work all that well. The walking on burning coals was just a little too broad. But the show also didn't push it far enough. If Liam was committed to it, why not show just how horrible an experience it really was? Instead, they just cut to the aftermath.
  • School promises to bring some normalcy back into these characters' lives. Will they fall back into familiar patterns? Or will they truly embrace change and strive to be better people than they were last school year?