The season two finale of Awkward. aired Thursday evening and answered the age old question of who did Jenna Hamilton (Ashley Rickards) pick, exactly? Was she Team Jake Rosati (Brett Davern) or Team Matty McKibben (Beau Mirchoff)? And did she make the right choice? And who exactly was the person who commented on her blog before the flood gates opened up?
This examiner before going further, should preface this with that there has been no talk here really or proactively anywhere from this examiner's end about Awkward. on MTV so we’ll get into that in a second, but to best explain what the series is about, let’s take it straight from the mouth of show creator and writer Lauren Iungerich:
"Awkward." is about the specific incidents in our formative years that define us -sometimes for the best and sometimes for the worst. The show centers around fifteen-year-old Jenna Hamilton, who, like many, feels invisible to her peers and desperately wants to find her place--which is hard to do in a day and age where fitting in means standing out. Unfortunately, Jenna's visibility comes on the heels of an accident that gives her a not-so-fun stigma. And while the stigma of her accident could be the curse of her life, Jenna's determined to make it her life's blessing.
Awkward. is a series that premiered on MTV in 2011, and was about Jenna, an unpopular 15 year old girl who gains immediate but unwanted popularity at high school when the students believe her accident was a suicide attempt. And it was the only show that consistently every year (besides Glee) that good friend and fellow writer/reviewer Jerome Wetzel though would proactively talk to me about. Perhaps because having the stigma and mindset of someone who now in his thirties* that feels MTV was a shadow of what it once was (as it commandeers the market with crap like Teen Mom and Jersey Shore amongst other lacking in quality shows). As such, anything MTV produces instantly wreaks of programming this examiner deems not worth of his time.
Which isn’t fair to some shows, but one digresses.
In a world of limited time with a market overstuffed with plenty of shows, the ads did not look appealing for Awkward. or any other shows, and the one series that I did review Teen Wolf turned me off from giving any other shows on MTV a valid shot (which is purely an MTV marketing problem).
(*) – To make myself feel better and full of validation, I only recently turned 31. So I’m not an old man screaming get off my lawn, you kids. Okay, maybe I am. But seriously, get off my lawn.
But, Jerome's love for the series and his being adamant that I watch the show was persistent. With season two starting up soon (at the time), I saw that MTV was going an Awkward. marathon. I was going to catch up and then lead right into season two. But another thing MTV does is that it changes the schedule at a drop of a hat. So my however many hours of Awkward. were actually recorded waiting for me on my DVR listed as Awkward. were actually episodes of 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom with an hour of Jersey Shore. To say Jesus wept is an understatement. I might never catch up to see Awkward. in time for Season two, and with money being tight, buying the DVD set isn’t in my future.
So naturally, this was discussed by Jerome and I on his Jerome Wetzel TV segment on the podcast The Good The Bad & The Geeky (direct download here) and lo-behold Lauren Iungerich herself responded in kind by submitting a review-copy DVD of Awkward. season 1. **
(**)- I’d quickly follow that with “That review IS forthcoming I swear!” but this has turned into an ultimate review of Season 1 to the season2 finale of Awkward.. So to quote Arnold from Jurassic Park: “Hold On To Your Butts…”
Rest be assured though, even with the DVD review copy, I was kicking and screaming the entire time. I thought that it’s a show geared for chicks. This isn’t my thing. Because despite my love for chick flicks or rom coms (I know, I’m a unique snowflake) that Awkward. was not my thing at all. Heck, even following that up with I adore stories of teen woes and angst and drama especially ones by John Hughes, I wasn’t interested. Would Awkward. continue to be the series that just not be my cup of tea? Kicking and screaming, I believed it was.
Oh how wrong I was.
The show was easily consumed in two days (and that includes watching it around general work and extra-curricular activities).
Awkward. is, long story short (too late), a simply amazing television show. The fact that it is on MTV is both a blessing and a hindrance to the show, as Iungerich has a show that actually tells an interesting story but it isn’t typical MTV fodder***. It is quite sharp and really is almost sly in how it slides creative and well-told stories into each episode about a story on the surface built around teen love. Heck, the season two finale “The Other Shoe” is rife with them. The same episode also takes the old song and adage “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need” and spins it on its head. Especially thanks to shows like House M.D. which plays the Rolling Stones song over and over again, we miss the simple “What if we DO get what we want, but it isn’t what we need?” Or how the actual other shoe from Tamara (the adorable and equally talented Jillian Rose Reed) drops on Jenna as Jenna sits with Matty McKibben at the party, showcasing how history does tend to repeat itself (just in different ways).
And I just love little moments like that. I love that Awkward. creates fully-well rounded characters that you feel sympathy for, like the cruel (but not all there) Lissa (Greer Grammer who ends up not being as cruel as we think her to be) and head cheerleader Sadie (Molly Tarlov). The show features other great moments like even though you want to root by design for Matty, that they flesh out and make Jake a good guy, almost better in Matty in some ways so you yourself are torn between Team Matty and Team Jake.
(***)- The problem is, and this is a discussion I’ve had with Jerome Wetzel which is, what network would best serve Awkward. then? And the problem is, we can’t think of any.
Despite my adorning praise for Awkward. that doesn’t mean the series is not without it’s faults: while I enjoy the character of Valerie (Desi Lydic), she rides dangerously close to the danger zone of being overtly annoying or too cheesy and luckily it is a tight rope that the series usually walks okay, but it still feels too close to comfort sometimes. Also the reveal of Clark being the commenter was nice but felt like a quick ‘oh by the way’ moment, and hopefully that will see more traction in Season Three but it felt a little underhanded if you treat it as a per episode basis. Another small gripe is that I love these characters so much, especially Ming who we are only now beginning to see more of. I hope the trend of featuring Ming is more prevalent. ****
(****) – I swear for the longest time until the reveal in the season one finale that it was Ming who wrote the carefronttation letter. It has been a few weeks since I gluttony devoured season one on DVD so I could be incorrect but didn’t Ming state that she was friends with Jenna longer than Tamara? It was a valid idea that was for me a red herring as I enjoyed the three actors chemistry and the characters as well. To see Ming get more play in season two was a joy. Let’s hope that continues in Season three as well.
This examiner has rambled on enough.
Overall, Awkward. is a fantastic show. Don’t let the idea of it being on MTV mislead you. And try your best to catch up on the series before season three premieres. You will find it will be worth every second of your time, and to say that about any show is worth something in today’s television atmosphere.