'Fakes' Is Real Fun

Created by David Turko

Starring Emilija Baranac, Jennifer Tong, Richard Harmon, Wern Lee, Matreya Scarrwener, Ryan Mah, Mya Lowe

Photo: David Astorga / CBC / Netflix

BY Alex HudsonPublished Sep 14, 2022

Between Persuasion and She-Hulk, there sure are a lot of new shows and movies starring irony-poisoned protagonists who constantly obliterate the fourth wall by staring into the camera with a cocked eyebrow and a smirk. Fakes struts its way into this rather crowded, Fleabag- and High Fidelity-inspired field — but it's got enough over-the-top gusto that it still manages to stand out.

Fakes is CBC Gem's semi-true story of two West Vancouver teens who launch a fake IDs business before eventually getting busted by the cops — a downfall that is revealed in a flash forward in the very first scene.

Each episode is told from the perspective of one of the teen girls: the neurotic brainiac Zoe (Emilija Baranac) and the rich, outgoing Rebecca (Jennifer Tong). It's a neat exercise in unreliable narrators, with the two offering very different accounts of what happened, each of them suggesting that the other was primarily responsible for what happened (and possibly hinting at them being pitted against one another in court once the whole thing blows up). This trick brings out some wonderfully over-the-top performances, although it does result in some very inconsistent characters — with two different versions of each, it's hard to really relate to or connect with anyone, since we never know who their true selves are.

A strong supporting cast is led by the sketchy dirtbag Tryst (Richard Harmon), a drug dealer and extremely amateur crime lord who oversees the fake ID operation. An episode where he becomes the focus is perhaps the strongest of the entire season, as it effectively reveals his soft side without making him sympathetic — a delicate balance that creator David Turko pulls off perfectly.

The maximalist show moves fast through its 10 episodes, the glitzy style propelled by a perfectly chosen soundtrack of obnoxious party rap and mournful ambience. It's refreshing to see Vancouver, so often a stand-in for American cities, playing itself for once. The girls hang out at West Van's Ambleside Park, which they overtly refer to as Ambleside, and they're shown dealing with Canadian money and the Vancouver Police Department, making for a fun game of "spot the Canadiana" (especially if you just so happened to spend your teenage years in that apartment building right next to Park Royal, just steps away from Ambleside).

It's a slightly inconsistent arc, but by balancing some dark subject matter with a giddy sense of fun, Fakes is an entertaining romp.

Latest Coverage