Awkward., Ep 4.18: “Girl Rules” is a return to form

Gabby gets some added character traits in this week's episode, as the show revisits both Matty's conflicted feelings about being adopted, and Jenna's continuing uncertainty over what comes after high school.
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Ashley Rickards, Erinn Westbrook

Ashley Rickards, Erinn Westbrook

Awkward., Season 4, Episode 18: “Girl Rules”
Written by Jenna Lamia
Directed by Uta Briesewitz
Airs Tuesdays at 10pm EST on MTV

Following Jenna’s brief dalliance with Owen, the past few episodes have seen her circle back towards Matty, just as the latter engages in a relationship of his own with Gabby. However, not much has been known about the latter, as the show has focused more on how the relationship affects Matty and Jenna. This week’s episode brings Gabby into the fold as Jenna gets to know her better, in a strong outing that revisits some key storylines from earlier in the season.

Jenna’s reaction to Gabby this week, as well as her frustrations with college and her rejection of Matty, are refreshing steps towards maturity for the character. It’s good to see Jenna reconcile herself to the idea that Gabby is not a bad person, and even move towards considering Gabby a friend, particularly given her attempted hostile reaction to Gabby in the first half of the episode. It’s also nice to see the show portray Gabby as someone who truly does care about Matty and is a good person, rather than someone who’s petty and manipulative. It will be intriguing to see how the friendship between the two develops going forward. With the door now open for both to get along, the potential for Jenna to gain a new female friend just as high school winds down opens up a lot of ideas that can be explored, and hopefully her friendship with Matty plays a minimal role in the development of her friendship with Gabby.

It’s also good to see Jenna’s frustration with her dwindling post-secondary options come to the fore once again. The issue of what to do after high school is one that every teenager has experienced, and having Jenna go through a minor crisis over where she goes next is a bold step for the show. Not only is Jenna the focus of the series, but it’s clear that she hasn’t done anything that would be a major obstacle to acceptance. This adds a layer of dread to every school she gets rejected from, as the reason is never clear. Lacey’s acceptance into college adds another dimension to the frustration this week, and how the show handles this situation as high school wraps up will be worth seeing. With even Jenna’s new friend Gabby set to go off to college, and her mother now joining their ranks, there’s now a distinct possibility that Jenna and her father may be the only ones left behind, which would make for a compelling turn for the character.

Overall, this episode marks a return to form for the show. It’s nice to see Matty’s concern about his adoption and birth parents come to the fore once again, and it puts his relaxing demeanour in the second half of this season in a new light, as it’s apparent that he was biding his time. Sadie and Jenna forming a sudden friendship also makes for a fun viewing, and hopefully the show delves deeper into the bond between the two, particularly since they’re set as co-captains of the cheer team for now, and possibly after Lissa’s return as well. How Jenna’s post-secondary options, or lack thereof, continue to develop, and how she reacts if and when more rejections come, will be worth tuning in for as the season draws to a close.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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