We made it, kids. After a season of heartbreak, inner conflict, and Breakfast Club homages, we’ve come out the other side of Faking It’s second season. There were bumps and questionable narrative choices along the way, but I’m oddly left feeling a lot better than I have for previous finales in this show. Season one and 2A’s closers were fantastic, don’t get me wrong – they were also just INCREDIBLY STRESSFUL, full of emotional gut-punches and uncertainty about the future. While “School’s Out” was painful and heartbreaking in places, there was still something oddly reassuring about where everyone ended up. For once, you can tell the Hester High crew is going to be okay, even if some of them are feeling lost right now. Let’s check out some highlights:
- The return of Zita and Liam’s incoming roadtrip. I might be alone in this, but sincerely: I was so delighted (and relieved) to see Zita come back. With Liam quitting Skwerkel, it seemed as though the show had unfortunately written out a great character with tons of potential, but thankfully she’s returned with her maximum sass powers fully charged. And, while Liam’s never been a fan favorite, I’m actually glad we’re going to see him actively try to solve the mystery of his biological father. This past half season has made it clear that the writers aren’t entirely sure what to do with Liam outside of his Karma-related roller coaster (seriously, what was that Sasha storyline?) and the bizarre Booker family dynamics have been strangely neglected since they were revealed in 2A. Introducing the question of C. Wilder’s identity is a step in the right direction; it gives Liam a chance to actually grow as a character and step away from some of the traits that have tested viewers’ patience over the past few seasons. Plus, with Zita accompanying him, maybe she’ll get the chance to be more developed as well – for a supporting character clearly slotted in as an alternate love interest, she’s surprisingly nuanced. (Seriously: she’s got that sharp honesty, but also plenty of sincerity and kindness. I would be friends with Zita.) This incoming arc would be easy to do wrong, so I’ve got my fingers crossed in hope that the writers take advantage of all the opportunities they have here.
- Lauren’s speech, the greatest and most affirming moment of our times. This scene was absolutely everything it needed to be, both in terms of the show and Lauren’s storyline specifically. Everyone on Faking It has changed, but Lauren has evolved and grown into herself in a totally unparalleled way. Of course, she’s still not totally comfortable with herself, and she retains her signature rough edges – anything different would be too contrived – but that’s okay. In her own words: “Hester High accepts you, even when you don’t accept yourself.” The second part of that statement is where the real truth is, since Lauren knows better than anyone how hard it is
to love yourself or like the ways you don’t fit in. A “just appreciate yourself! Your differences make you special!” message can sound very trite to somebody who regularly feels isolated and scared about their identity, and it’s honestly amazing that the show let her voice that struggle instead of going the easy route and pasting on the idea that Hester High cures all self-esteem ills. It doesn’t – she and many other characters still need to fight for genuine confidence – but an environment that encourages you and gives you space to figure it out still means the world. The victory here might be predictable in some ways, but it was so well-executed that I don’t have it in me to nitpick. I just want to celebrate, you know, maybe do a dance like Penelope. Totally normal stuff.
- Amy and Karma parting ways. How much do I love these girls? SO MUCH. And, even though it hurts, Amy’s right: they both need this right now, before their relationship turns into a cyclical co-dependent mess. Naturally, Karma is heartbroken – aren’t best friends supposed to get through anything together, even when togetherness is the problem? Watching these two figure out where to draw the line is always compelling television, and this current “breakup” will doubtlessly have fascinating consequences for season three. The only thing that tires me out is how Faking It continues to refuse Karma even the chance to consider she might be attracted to Amy; from a character perspective, I understand that she’s not ready to admit anything to herself, but even hearing her voice some uncertainty would be a step beyond the continual denial we’ve been watching. Amy’s moved forward a lot, even if it’s not as much as she would like; Karma hasn’t quite been granted the same chance to step beyond her own self-image. The story can only pad out its hints for so long – maybe Amy forcing a massive change in their relationship will be the catalyst it needs.
Season three will sweep upon us at an unidentified 2016 date, so all we can do is speculate about the future for now. Where do you want to see the Hester gang go? Have you accepted yet another long hiatus stretching ahead? Personally, I’ll be coping via rewatches and weeping into my ice cream about confused teenagers in love, maybe taking a page out of Amy’s book and doing a soul-healing trek across America. As the final moments of School’s Out reminded us: you do what you can in these troubled times.