Okay, so I had all last night and today at work to think over this whole thing and I just want to get this out.
(Contains Faking It s01e08 spoilers)
I was furious last night, as soon as I realized what was happening. I honestly couldn’t believe it at first. The worst possible way they could have gone. And why, when I knew Karmy wasn’t going to happen this early and half expected Amy to run to a guy anyway? Because, freaking Liam.
What are the most common tropes we get stuck with, when watching queer ladies on TV? When you’re fed up of just shipping all that subtext and trying to find anything with canon queer ladies, however short the scenes, however minor the character, however bittersweet the plotline. The most overused tropes are death, pregnancy, and some guy getting in the middle of the story, right? The last one isn’t so problematic in itself, after all, the woman could be bi (the paradox of “bisexual” hardly ever being mentioned on TV while a huge chunk of canonically queer ladies have history with men and women is another issue altogether), and just because…how we grew up, how we’re socialized, there’s a good chance there was an actual guy somewhere in our own past.
BUT. These storylines place the importance of the male character way too high. So many TV series already tend to place the most priority on their central (white cis het) male characters, letting their actions control the show, letting them do whatever they want, flout the rules and turn out to be right, receive very little consequence for stepping out of line, and having their issues and dynamics be the center of the show. And when we get our storylines that involve any of these men through a love triangle, they become an overwhelming part of it.
Yesterday, even in the middle of the rage, as the camera panned up to the Karmy pic on Amy’s nightstand, I got what they were going for. It’s not incredibly in character for her, but then, Amy’s pretty impetuous. This is the girl who initiated the Homecoming assembly kiss, who made the gung-ho plan to serial date her way through finding out her sexuality, who ruined her mom’s bridal shower by publicly accusing her stepsister of subterfuge, and who was going to convince her best friend to want her back during a threesome. Amy’s had her share of WTF moments. And she was drunk, she was angry at Karma, maybe she wanted to see what made Liam so special, or wanted to try being straight, hell, there might even have been some wistful perverse part of her that wanted to experience the same thing Karma did. So, okay, I can rationalize this a million ways to Sunday. But what’s more than why Amy did it, I can see what the show was trying for, just how much of an impact this will have on all three dynamics. What I’m not so sure about is why Kama-Liam and Amy-Liam is so important here.
The last two episodes have both faded out with Liam sleeping with each girl (and all right, we have no confirmation about Amy and perhaps they’ll be stopped or stop themselves, but he’s getting pretty darn far and the impression we’re left with, all hiatus long, is that it happens). What kind of meaning are we supposed to read from that except that the douchey guy who took lesbians as a challenge pretty much got to sleep with both the girls by the end? Oh, but he has issues with his family and look at the character growth he’s experiencing. Why is that important again? Why is he so much the center of this storyline? There would have been some anger had Amy gone to any guy at all, but not only would sweet Oliver, for example, have made some kind of sense, at least it wouldn’t continue to place this one male character right in the middle of every Karmy moment.
And the thing is, from the rest of the episode, it’s clear that there are signs of progress elsewhere. The toast and the confession (and the cute-ass dance) were great. They sucked us in this whole season by doing well but just undid all that in the last few seconds. The ending took away focus from that incredible confession scene, where both Rita and Katie knocked it out of the park, and opened up all kinds of interesting issues: Karma having sensed Amy’s aversion to Liam and thinking it strong enough to not tell her best friend that she’d lost her virginity, Karma of all people telling Amy she must just be confused about her feelings while admitting she found the threesome kiss hot. That last scene doesn’t undo the future potential for Karmy at all.
It’s so obvious it was chosen for its maximum shock value, and I’m just so, so tired of seeing this. If we didn’t have the history we did, with our incredibly few options and almost all of those turning out badly, perhaps it wouldn’t be received this badly. Is it the fault of this show in particular? Not really, but it certainly speaks to a fundamental misunderstanding of and ignorance about the audience. It’s an example where the intention to create a powerful moment backfired and created a kind of awful consequence. You can’t really joke about Ryan Murphy when you do something like this.
And yet. How many of us who swore off the show are already thinking about the second season? The very reason this hurt so much in particular, because the rest of the episodes were so great, is why some of us still have hope for it being fixed next season, right? They miscalculated badly on how we’d receive Liam, but the core plot remains the same, it is very much a show about Karma and Amy. Do we want to see how it all unfolds? The petty part of me wants to say no, just to see them punished, but to be honest, I’d really rather the final scene of this show not be Amy/Liam. I don’t want pandering, I don’t want them to edit the ep before it airs (even if they could, which I doubt), I want them to tell their story, I just wish they’d been more cognizant of our experiences.
I’m still mad about it and I hope they do cut down on the Liam next season, but yeah, I guess I’ll still be tuning in next season (if we get one).
tl;dr: Why is a guy so much at the center of this story about queer girls?