Catching up with Awkward. – Ep. 1.04-05: still a well written series, surprisingly witty and filled with razor-sharp dialogue
Episode 4 “The Scarlet Eye”
Episode 5 “Jenna Lives”
Directed by David Katzenberg
Written by Lauren Iungerich
Awkward. has often been compared to My So-Called Life, the 1994 ABC show which starred Claire Danes. The similarities between the two are few but like Danes, Ashley Rickards serves as both star and narrator, explaining her motives and reactions through her blog as appose to her diary. Jenna, like Angela is smart, alert, engaging and attractive, except she doesn’t know it, at least not yet. The same can be said for most teenagers, no matter how good looking or popular they are, they are just as insecure as the next.
MTV is airing Awkward. at 11 p.m. and with good reason. The series begins with the main character losing her virginity at Summer camp and uses what appears to be a botched suicide attempt as a pivot point for her social status makeover. Apart from all the raging hormones, episode five really shocked viewers when Jenna, the show’s lead, took on smoking. It was short lived, bumming a cigarette from the beautiful- and as pointed out several times – extremely cool, mystery girl. The material in Awkward. is racy, and edgy for a series aimed at young America, but the message is very clear: High school is Hell. While the series features sexuality and hints at other illicit behaviour, even drug use – the messages are always positive and urging teens in the right path. The show-runners are not living in denial. They realize teens think, and take part in sex, drugs and drinking, and they don’t shy away from these situations. Instead they endorse safe sex, and appose drug use and smoking.
Episode 4, “The Scarlet Eye” finally shed some light on Jenna’s parents and her friend Ming. Her parents, Kevin and Lacey are two of the most loveable parents on TV. These high-school sweethearts who were married at a young age due to Lacey’s pregnancy, never seem to really resent the sacrifices they made to raise their baby daughter. Jenna’s parents remain one of the show’s highlights and it’s refreshing to see how the writers show their imperfections with understanding and without judgement. Kevin and Lacey getting high in a parked car was clearly the highlight of “The Scarlett Eye”. Where most teen dramas would feature parents getting divorced, losing their jobs or having affairs, Awkward. presents the parents as fun, caring and young at heart, and reminds us that we were all once teenagers. It was great to finally see Ming get some screen time and see her personality come to the surface. Sadly American sitcoms don’t feature many minorities and when they do, they are usually portrayed as stereotypes. Unlike many high school sitcoms, Awkward. contains actors who are able to rise above the silly stereotypes and give their characters life. Ming isn’t interested in climbing the ranks of popularity. Instead she is much more interested in the well being of her friends. Her character is a breath of fresh air and you can’t help but wish we had more of her.
What raises this venture a few notches above your normal acne fare is the solid teleplays. Episode 5, “Jenna Lives” finally delivered an episodic arc, which had a beginning and an end. In a Sadie-free episode, Awkward. addressed the bad that comes from jumping to conclusions and jealousy – while finding time to introduce a subplot of a potential stalker and move forward a three way love triangle between Jenna, Matty and Jake. As satirical as it is romantic, this is one teen comedy that is wise enough to span generations in its appeal. Audiences no matter what age, will all root for Jenna to choose between one of the two boys – hopefully most of us are rooting for Jake.
After five episodes, Awkward. is still a well written series, surprisingly witty and filled with razor-sharp dialogue. But what makes it so fun, is watching Jenna Hamilton, as hard as she tries, constantly screwing everything up.
- Ricky D
Episode 4 Quotes
Jenna: It was homecoming week and like an uncomfortably misguided tampon it was impossible to ignore.
Ming: Do all boners look like weapons?
Jenna: Whether I liked it or not, it was time to DTR.
Tamara: I really want to celebrate your release from jail but I’m on the hunt for Red October.
Jenna: The scorch from my rejection was still lingering and the fact that my dad was driving fifteen miles under the speed limit was only prolonging my hell. It was like my parents were stoned.
Episode 5 quotes
Tamara: Your face is all red and you have crazy eyes. Did you feed the rabid squirrel in the quad?
Tamara: Your suicide stigma is like the herps just when you think it’s gone it comes back.