“Future Tense” had a lot of highs and lows, but one thing you can always count on with this show is the cast knocking their material out of the park. Every character action feels risky and consequence-laden, in part because the performances are so genuine. Teen dramas seem to have to work a little harder to make their conflicts feel attention-grabbing, since it’s easy to write them off as immature and fluffy, but Faking It has a knack for bringing some of the most achingly sincere portrayals out of its actors. Here are my personal favorites from this past week:
3. Bailey De Young is just so great, folks. Lauren had a smaller subplot in this past episode, focused on her efforts to impress a college rep and her eventual reunion with Theo, but she still successfully broke everybody’s heart with her response when she found out her choice college valued her for being intersex more than any actual skills she put time and effort into learning. Lauren’s struggle to accept herself and navigate other people’s responses to her has been one of Faking It’s most compelling storylines, and I’m so glad to see 2B hasn’t left it behind. In the first half of the season, one of Lauren’s most memorable moments was realizing her father’s shame about her identity, and valuing herself enough to know she deserved better. Now we’re seeing the other side of the coin: a different adult tokenizing her with no real interest in who she is as a person. De Young’s quiet, angry delivery of “because of my body?” spoke to so much of Lauren’s frustrated exhaustion. People either wish she was someone other than herself, or they want to disregard every achievement of hers that isn’t directly related to being intersex. It is so, so easy to understand why she’s hurting and to empathize with it, and it’s all thanks to the incredibly effective actress depicting her. I just want to give Lauren a hug, but she’d probably get really mad at me for it.
2. I have a complicated relationship with Reagan. She was my favorite new addition of last season; I loved her character and thought she introduced so many interesting new things to the story, plus it was refreshing to see Amy in a relationship with her first girlfriend after crushing on Karma for so long. Since the series came back from hiatus, though, a lot of Reagan’s actions have been wearing thin. I get that she behaves from a place of vulnerability, like everyone else on this show — all of the kids have messed up and/or been jerks at some point — but Reagan has felt so comparatively mean-spirited and overboard in the specific ways she lashes out. I don’t begrudge her for being insecure about Amy’s Karma-related baggage, but her general philosophy of mistrust and anger towards questioning/bisexual girls due to one bad breakup reflects a lot of hateful real-world attitudes towards people who aren’t sure of their sexuality. Layer on the fact that she pressures Amy to “prove” her lesbianism through making out and calls Amy a coward for being scared to talk about something that Reagan was always viciously intolerant towards, and I was starting to feel pretty over their relationship for much of “Future Tense.” It felt like twenty minutes of bullying, which I’m not into seeing portrayed as basic relationship incompatibility.
Despite all that, though, I still found Yvette Monreal’s performance so compelling to watch, and even with all my issues I still really felt for her during that final breakup scene. You know it’s a talented actor who can take a character that you disagree with or struggle to enjoy, and wring so much humanity out of her. I think a lot of her actions were really inappropriate and wrong in a way the show didn’t truly own or acknowledge, which is a problem for the writing, but I don’t dislike Reagan as a character. I just wish we could see her apologize to Amy and get her stuff together. She feels as lost as anybody else in the story, and I feel like she could learn to be a better, more empathetic person if she was ever written to realize how hurtful her actions are. It’s unclear whether we’ll see her again — some footage in 2B’s trailer suggests we will, even though she seems to be written out very cleanly at the moment — but if we don’t, I’ll be excited to see what Monreal does next. No matter what you think of Reagan’s character, it’s hard to deny that that the person behind her is great at honest and magnetic acting.
1. It feels like a copout to list the lead actress as my favorite, but, y’know, logic dictates that Rita Volk snagged Faking It’s main role for a reason. This episode was amazing for her range — we saw her excellent comedic timing in Amy and Karma’s bad “commercial” as well as her dramatic chops when figuring out how to deal with Reagan’s expectations. She’s so gifted at wearing her character’s heart on her sleeve; Amy has always been an incredibly relatable and realistic protagonist in the middle of a show often filled with the heightened, over-the-top events expected in any teen series. The previously-mentioned breakup scene was some of her best work (why is she so great at crying scenes?). Just to reiterate: it’s only the third episode of 2B. If this is where Amy’s at right now, how much are Volk and the writers going to devastate us at the end of the season?
I just want Amy Raudenfeld to be happy SO MUCH, people. I do not feel like this is a lot to ask.