During an ATX reunion panel celebrating his trailblazing MTV series Faking It, showrunner and executive producer Carter Covington expressed the opinion that the show would be much trickier to get off the ground today than it was just seven or so years ago.
“I do think [today] our original premise probably would have been blasted out before the show even aired,” he said. “It was a challenging premise. We all knew it would get attention.”
In his appearance on the panel alongside Covington, actor Michael J. Willett agreed that the initial conceit was tricky. “I think the idea had the potential to be very insensitive,” said the actor, who played Shane. At the same time, he said that the show is that much more commendable because of the risks it took, and the way in which tricky subject matter was approached. “I think that it was very masterful of Carter and the writers to maneuver it in a way that was genuine and sensitive and respectful,” he said.
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Running for three seasons between 2013 and 2016, Fixing It centered on Karma (Katie Stevens) and Amy (Rita Volk), best friends who decide to come out as lesbians, in an effort to gain popularity at their Texas high school.
The reunion panel, moderated by TV Guide Magazine’s Jim Halterman, also featured actors Volk, Stevens, Yvette Monreal and Keith Powers. In conversation with his collaborators, Covington admitted that the show went through “growing pains” to start, expressing his regret that it was canceled so swiftly. “I wish we had one more season to properly end it,” he said. “I still have a lot of, ‘Ugh, what we could have done.’”
At the same time, most of the conversation was focused on what the show achieved, in its relatively short time on the air, as far as groundbreaking representation of the LGBTQIA community. With his series, co-created by Dana Goodman and Julia Lee Wolov, Covington’s goal was to move “beyond coming out stories” to present a more full spectrum of queer experience—not tokenizing these individuals, but presenting them as their real, human, oftentimes messy selves.
One particular aspect of the show that makes Covington proud is the way it dug into the experience of the intersex community. Of particular note was the character of Lauren, played by Bailey De Young. “There had been no intersex narrative that really lasted beyond an episode of television [prior to Lauren],” Covington noted, “and no character we got to track through their experience being intersex.”
To further the conversation around this component of Faking It, Halterman brought out Kimberly Zieselman, the Executive Director of intersex youth advocacy organization InterACT, who helped educate Covington and his writing staff on the intersex experience, as they went about writing the show.
“Just hearing from Carter and the writers about wanting to have a recurring intersex character and doing it in an authentic way was so heartwarming, and not the way it usually goes, so kudos to Carter and his team,” said Zieselman, who is herself intersex. “I’ll never forget watching the episodes. I can’t say enough about what a historic milestone Faking It was for the intersex community and intersex representation.”
As the conversation wound down, a number of members of the Faking It team gave their take on the importance of the show, and explained how it changed their lives. “To this day, I still get people who say this show is their favorite show, and how they felt so represented by everybody on the show,” said Stevens.
“If the show did anything, it was avoiding stereotypes,” said Volk. “It had heart, it really did.”
“I’m still kind of pinching myself that [the show] happened,” added Covington. “It’s kind of been magical, and I miss it everyday.”