PASADENA, Calif. — Carter Covington’s latest TV show is based a bit on his time at Reynolds High School — but filtered through a lens of wish fulfillment.
Covington is the executive producer of “Faking It” (10:30 p.m. Tuesday on MTV), a comedy about two nerdy high school students who have long been ignored by their classmates.
But then the student body mistakenly comes to believe the two best friends are actually a lesbian couple.
Since many of the students pride themselves on being politically correct and progressive, the girls being “outed” results in them suddenly becoming campus celebrities.
Covington, who is from Winston-Salem, attended Reynolds High in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, graduating in 1991. He is now openly gay, but wasn’t back then.
“I was in the closet at Reynolds, and I never even considered coming out,” he said. “There were no openly gay students.… It is kind of the high school I wish I could have gone to if I could go back in time and do it all over again – not that I didn’t love Reynolds. I had a wonderful time, but I didn’t even know an openly gay person in high school. I didn’t even know it was possible.”
In the series, the students rally to make the girls — Karma (Katie Stevens of “American Idol”) and Amy (Rita Volk) — the school’s co-homecoming queens. Though they aren’t gay, Karma and Amy decide to play along, pretending they’re an item so they can grab their chance at popularity.
Karma even catches the eye of Liam (Gregg Sulkin), a handsome, roguish student who had previously ignored her. And Liam’s buddy Shane (Michael Willett), who is out and proud, becomes the girls’ biggest cheerleader.
“I get to revisit that time of my life, and I can present a version of myself that’s more confident in myself,” Covington said. “He (Shane) represents what I wish I could have been in high school.”
When Covington was in high school, he said, “There was a lot of pressure to kind of conform. And that’s part of why I wanted to create this show, I see that changing so much.
You just see now there’s much more appreciation, especially among the MTV audience and teenagers, that different is OK…. It’s not every high school, but I do think that attitudes are changing, and tolerance is now viewed as kind of an expected quality to have in many parts of the country.”
Before this, Covington worked on such shows as “Greek” and “10 Things I Hate About You” which, like “Faking It,” revolved around students, either in high school or college.
“I grew up obsessed with John Hughes movies. That was a huge influence in my life,” he said. “I always want to bring that same pathos to what I do, which is a deep understanding of what it feels like to be a teenager at that time of my life. And because high school for me was such a struggle, it’s something I’m continuously revisiting.”
MTV has ordered eight episodes for the first season of “Faking It,” airing the show after its popular comedy “Awkward,” about a teen with a knack for getting herself into socially uncomfortable situations.
“I would love it to go on much much more,” Covington said, “so hopefully it will be a compatible companion to ‘Awkward.’ I think they really want to find something to appeal to the ‘Awkward’ crowd, and hopefully the show will do that.”