Faking It fans were thrown for a major loop at the end of the shocking season one finale when Amy (Rita Volk) finally confessed her romantic feelings for BFF Karma (Katie Stevens), only to get rejected by her straight bestie and drunkenly sleep with Karma's kind-of boyfriend Liam (Gregg Sulkin). The biggest question on everyone's mind is, obviously, how will this one-night-stand affect Karma and Amy's friendship and Karma and Liam's relationship? Can both survive, or will it all crash and burn in season two?
But when E! News recently visited the set of Faking It, we found out that Amy and Liam's hot and scandalous hook up is actually going to be the last thing on everyone's minds when the season two premiere airs. Because we know Lauren's (Bailey Buntain) secret that she's been hiding all season long. And it's good. It's really good. Like, game-changing levels of good.
If you thought Faking It completely changed the way TV portrays teen sexuality, prepare yourself—the MTV dramedy is doing it again.
"We're going to find out Lauren's secret in the premiere, and it's a shocker," executive producer Carter Covington reveals to E! News. "We're going to find out that she was born intersex and that is going to be the driving force of our new season. A new character Theo [Keith Powers] is going to be a love interest for Lauren and she's going to struggle with whether or not she's going to tell him and she'll struggle with her own issues about being born intersex, and how it affects her family."
So what exactly does that mean? According to the Intersex Society of North America, "intersex is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside." In Lauren's case, Covington says she has complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, or CAIS.
"We were really drawn to this condition that Lauren has, because it really describes how she's hyper-feminine, how she's so girly and traditional, it just fit really well with the character that we created," Covington explains. "I love the fact that we get to tell this story that we've never seen before on TV."
The Faking It creative team knew early on that they wanted to have Lauren hiding some kind of secret, but the weren't sure what it should be.
"I wanted Lauren to be more than just a nemesis on the show," Covington says. "I wanted her to have some sort of secret that she's faking as well, since everyone else had that element, and for her to have a fully-fleshed out character that people are going to be rooting for despite themselves, and do that in a way I hadn't seen on television before. We were struggling with what would that be in the writers room, and someone jokingly said, 'What if she had a tiny penis?'"
Covington continues, "We all laughed, and that's not what Lauren has, but then I said, 'What if she were born intersex?' And we all had the reaction that the characters have on the show, like, 'Huh, we don't know anything about intersex!' We did some research and contacted Advocates for Informed Choice, an intersex advocacy group, and we met some wonderful people there who educated us on all the various elements and conditions under the umbrella of intersex."
When Buntain found out that Lauren was intersex, she had the same reaction as the writers. "I honestly didn't know a ton about it," Buntain says. "I thought it was very cool and it explains a lot about why she is so closed off. And I wanted to learn more about it so I talked with people at Interact and they explained their experiences. I was really excited because I feel like this is such an untapped issue to talk about. I feel honored and a sense of responsibility to make sure that I was portraying this correctly. It's a lot to take on in the best way. I'm excited."
Even before Faking It season two premieres, adding in the intersex storyline is already achieving exactly what Covington hoped it would, since they were motivated to seek out education about what it means to be born intersex.
"We're really excited to tell this story in a responsible way and hopefully it will resonate not only with youth that are struggling with being born intersex, but also give an education to people who have had no exposure to it," Covington says. "It's actually shockingly common. It's as common as being born a natural redhead. I hope that people connect with her storyline and it does what we're trying to do, which is make her character an integral part of the show."
The audience will learn Lauren's secret at the same time as the core group of characters—Amy, Karma, Shane (Michael Willett) and Liam—find out, and that will change up the dynamics of the friend group in a major way.
"Lauren's such a proud character and she hates to be pitied, so the other characters empathize with her...but she's still got claws," Covington promises. "Amy even says in the second episode, 'This intersex thing really humanized her!' And Karma says, 'I know, it was so much easier when we could hate her!' It complicates their view of her since she's no longer just this obstacle. She's somebody who has feelings. But I don't want Lauren to all of a sudden become this warm and fuzzy character because that's not real to me. Lauren is prickly because of her insecurities. This won't fundamentally change her character but it will give the other characters a little deeper look into her humanity."
Buntain reveals that having others finally learn Lauren's secret will actually be beneficial to her in the long run. "She is a perfectionist and doesn't like to feel exposed or vulnerable, and there's also a shame attached to this which is really sad so she has a lot to work through," Buntain says. "Only the inner circle will find out immediately. It's not like the entire Hester High student body knows. So she's definitely really scared that everyone else is going to find out."
Of course, Lauren has a legitimate reason to fear everyone finding out her secret, since she's already been rejected by her now ex-boyfriend for being intersex.
"She didn't tell Tommy because she felt safe to tell him, she told him because Shane found out about her pills," Buntain says. "Then his rejection affirmed all of her fears: she got dumped because she is intersex. She will have a moment with Shane where Shane tells her she doesn't need to be embarrassed about this and I think that's her first real experience with something accepting her for it. I'm hoping that she gets more experiences like that, because in her mind, she is ashamed. She's felt different all her life and she's going to need experiences like Shane's and with future love interests to prove her wrong, and show her that people will still accept her and this isn't her whole identity."
And that's the aspect Covington is most excited to show with Lauren's season two storyline: the fact that while being intersex is a big part of who she is and she shouldn't be ashamed about it, it's also not the only thing she is. Just like how Faking It isn't just a show about being gay or bisexual or straight in high school.
"I hope educating people about being intersex is a part, and a big part, of the show," Covington says. "If we were known just for making this stance and introducing a character in that way, that would make me incredibly proud. But I also think the show can say so much more than that and I hope we can In fact, I know we can, and we will."
Faking It season two premieres Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 10:30 p.m. on MTV.
For more information on what it means to be intersex, check out www.interactyouth.org.