Faking It showrunner Carter Covington told me that the intersex element was born because they wanted a storyline worthy of the acting talents of Bailey DeYoung (Ginny on the late, lamented Bunheads), who plays Lauren. “The show is called Faking It, and we said, ‘Well, what is a secret she could have?’ ” Mostly, though, “it felt really fresh. It felt like a way to explore themes I hadn’t seen on TV before.”
Was it tricky that Lauren—a Type A personality who resents the topsy-turvy social structure at her Austin, Texas, high school, where gay students are the coolest kids on campus—was the main adversary of the fake lesbian couple at the center of the show? Not at all, said Covington, because her opposition stems from her condition. “She’s trying to be the perfect girl, the normal girl in the normal high school. She’s threatened by Karma and Amy because they represent a crack that she didn’t want to have happen.” It’s important, too, that Lauren keep her bitchy edge: “People accept her for being intersex, but she hasn’t accepted it about herself. If someone accepts you for something you don’t accept about yourself, it’s frustrating. It makes you even more angry. So we’ve been able to keep her antagonism in a very real way that makes sense for what she’s going through.”
Just as the Sirens’ writing team researched asexuality before they incorporated it into the show, the Faking It folks sought help from GLAAD, which put them in touch with Advocates for Informed Choice, an intersex advocacy group, which worked with them to craft storylines. “They gave us an education about what intersex conditions mean. We talked about what issues they bring up,” Covington said. To a certain extent that advice shaped events in the show.
When I told Covington I’d been frustrated by how little Lauren’s intersex condition had been incorporated into the plot once it became known to the high-school student body, he explained, “We wanted to honor what we heard loud and clear from people who are intersex: that when they reveal this about themselves, it immediately becomes a sort of science class. They feel like everyone wants to know the details of how it works and people forget that they are human. We really wanted to focus Lauren’s journey not on a medical story or on any sort of curiosity about what does that mean about her body but how she has the same insecurities we all have: Do people really like me for me, and if people knew the real me, would they really like me?”
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