Awkward., Season 4, Episode 15: “Bonfire of the Vanities”
Written by Liz Sczudlo
Directed by Gregory Guzik
Airs Tuesdays at 10pm EST on MTV
The events of the past few weeks have left a number of individuals in senior year with internal conflict, including Jenna, whose attempts to deal with rejection culminated in her finding her way to sophomore Owen once again. With college admissions now over and acceptances and rejections beginning to make their way to the students, this week’s episode turns the focus back onto the school, in a fun episode that gives both Jenna and Sadie some character growth, while giving Valerie a chance to have her voice heard as well.
The discovery of the Phonebook, and the subsequent reaction of the women who were rated in the book, is a strong aspect of the episode, both in the way it handles the presence of such a book, and in displaying Jenna’s character growth. Having the women unequivocally express disgust at the book and the people who participated in it is refreshing to see, particularly as none of the reactions are played for laughs or painted as unwarranted. It’s also good to see Jenna react to the book, and Matty’s participation, with disgust, rather than insecurity over the latter, as well as her rating. With Jenna now on the giving end of things at the end of the episode, it will be interesting to see how she reacts to the phonebook’s new incarnation, particularly in how it treats Matty and Jake. Whether or not she worries about her involvement becoming public, or about how the targets feel, will say a lot about how much she has changed through senior year.
The revelation of Sadie’s insecurities this week also makes for an interesting watch. While the source of her abrasive attitude has been an open secret, it has been rare for Sadie to open up to the degree that she does this week. It’s particularly intriguing to see her mindset so close to the end of her high school tenure, as it remains one of the few places where she is able to present herself as superior without effort. It will be interesting to see how her attitude changes as the year draws closer to its end, particularly with her post-high school plans still undefined. Facing the loss of the one stabilising force through her years of upheaval, it’s possible Sadie may open up more about her insecurities and her future, and how that affects her relationships will be particularly noteworthy, particularly in how she relates to Jenna.
Overall, this is another enjoyable outing for the show. Valerie’s insecurity over the bonfire is a nice nod to her character’s overzealous attitude to school events, and it’s good to see her get a chance to express her feelings on a situation, rather than become the butt of a joke. It’s also good to see Matty get his own focus, and how he reacts to the new phonebook with his current attitude will say a lot about how much he has learned from his past year of turmoil. With Owen now seemingly part of Jenna’s past, how she continues to deal with the imminent end of high school, as well as how Tamara reacts to the phonebook’s popularity once she sees the negative reactions it causes, are storylines that should both be worth keeping an eye on for the rest of the season.
– Deepayan Sengupta