The premise is classic: Jenna Hamilton, the daughter of clueless high school sweethearts, gives "the gift of her vagi" to high school hottie and all-around popular guy, Matty McKibben, played by Beau Mirchoff. Soon after their clandestine supply-closet union, Matty socially rejects Jenna; to make matters worse, Jenna then receives a scathing anonymous letter detailing her loserdom. As if those two horrors aren't horrible enough for then-15-year old Jenna, she trips in the bathroom, almost dying--but not before breaking her arm. Everyone--both at home and at school--assumes Jenna tried to commit suicide, despite the clearly accidental circumstances. Awkward.
Jenna becomes "That Girl" as she calls herself on her blog...yes, she's a writer. And I suspect Jenna's just shy of being a carbon copy of creator Iungerich. You see, I'm only three years older than Iungerich. Like Rickards, I graduated high school at a younger age than most of my peers. And Jenna's experiences mimic the dynamics of a late 80's high school hallway down to the fat cheerleader who buys her popularity, thanks to rich parents. Yup, we had one of those, too. And my rich, fat cheerleader loved to torture me...like sadistic Sadie tortures Jenna. When my Sadie passed a bra back in chemistry class telling everyone I was a stripper and I'd left it at a party, I owned it a la Jenna: I stood up in class, lifted my shirt and said, "That's not mine. It's not big enough." Ah, the good old days.
Jenna's lucky she has Iungerich writing her life. Because generally, the two most popular guys in school would not really be vying for Jenna's attention. They'd corner her in the nurse's office and tell her she's the kind of girl everyone wants to have sex with, but that no one will actually date. Now that's AWKWARD.
Fantastic one-liners like "Welcome to Karma-geddon, bitch," and "The elipsis are the sluts of grammar," hit home-runs as both clever and witty. And the audience--probably mostly people between my age and Iungerich's--loves to see Jenna have the happy problem of choosing between the less articulate but super-sweet Matty and the class President who isn't afraid to be himself, Jake Rosati, played well by Brett Davern.
Jake and Jenna bond when he shows his respect for her positive attitude toward all the school drama; sadly, this guy didn't exist in real life. He's pure imagination on Iungerich's part. After rejecting his chaste-cheerleader girlfriend, Lissa's, offer to have her "be-hymen," Jake begins to think of easy-going and easy-to-talk-to Jenna as more than just a friend.
As with all good season finales, AWKWARD. has its audience feeling sad for the evolving, and newly rejected, Matty and simultaneously happy for Jenna and Jake, but with a sense of foreboding...Jake has no idea that Jenna and his best friend, Matty, were an item. When that comes out--and it will--Jake will certainly reject Jenna. Matty's silence is forgivable; he kept quiet to avoid hurting Jake, who was very verbal about his developing feelings for Jenna. Jenna, on the other hand, knows that Matty and Jake are best pals--and she's now at the top of what we feminist scholars call the "heterosexual matrix," the place where all good girls go bad. King Arthur's Guenivere comes to mind...and look at what happened to her: relegated to a nunnery! Mary Jane Watson from Spider-Man ended up in a hell-dimension. Jean Grey from X-Men ended up dying...a lot. Princess Leia almost layed her own brother! Being the pinnacle of that love-triangle almost always means--in both literary and literal terms--that the female is going to get screwed, one way or another.
And the fact of the matter is, Jenna's already been screwed. By Matty. By her friends. By her teachers. Her guidance counselor. And as we learn in the finale, even her own mother!
We need more girl-characters like Jenna on small and big screens alike. While I'm thrilled AWKWARD. will have a Season 2, I shudder to think of Jenna's future path. I hope Iungerich doesn't really feel cruelty is necessary for kindness. Jenna's vapid mother has that one all wrapped up in a neat mirrored-ceiling, bra-less bow.
Kudos to creator Iungerich and the cast and crew of MTV's AWKWARD.! On the Housel-scale, you earn a well-deserved 9/10. On par with films like Easy A and Pretty in Pink, AWKWARD. keeps things interesting on TV screens...like it was in the beginning with Martha Quinn! I knew you had it in you, MTV....