“Rubbed Raw and Reeling” – Awkward.

627Finally, an episode that felt like a return to the Awkward. we’ve been missing. This was funny, unpredictable and true to life – all the hallmarks of the hit MTC show’s heyday and aspects of it that have all too often been difficult to find this season. Recent episodes have smacked of obviousness. Events have been predictable and without thought. Jenna (and the characters surrounding her) was beginning to feel like a typical teenager in the worst possible way – perhaps the most severe indictment we can give the show. But this was an occasionally majestic return to form.

The low point for us was, arguably, the main event: Jenna’s reading at the open mic night. Much was made of Jenna’s “pussy” status, something (when we look back) that is long established. But we found we weren’t much interested in her ‘taking the plunge’ and going public with her writing. The nod to Season 1, coming in the form of a reading of Jenna’s very first voiceover, was a nice touch, but the inserts made Jenna look neither witty nor charming. We would have liked to hear the entire story just to get a flavor of what the audience apparently saw in her but, alas, that was not to be.

Far more interesting to us were the events and characters surrounding Jenna, painting her almost as an uninvolved observer in her own story. Taking part in the open mic night solely because of threats from Mr Hart and derision from Val, her actions were reactive, not proactive. But it’s still always a pleasure to be privy to new aspects of Jenna’s character – it’s been far too long since we were – even if only in her new found awareness of existing character traits. It makes Jenna once more a 3D person. Not ‘That Girl’ or ‘Matty’s Girl’, but a fully rounded character.

Of course, that can never last. Jenna always swiftly returns to being defined, one way or another, by the men in her life. The majority of the episode focused on Jenna’s relationship with Matty and the growing tension with Collin. [Sidebar: we’re so very disappointed at how very much Jake and Sadie have been relegated to the second tier this season – we miss the days when Awkward. was about more than just Matty and Jenna.] Aside from our sense of vindication when we were proven right about Collin’s purpose on the show, we enjoyed this new wrench in the works because it spoke of a return to the ethos the show used to live by – life is messy and chaotic and complicated and the thing you think you want and need isn’t always what you really need or truly desire. Being ‘Matty’s Girl’ won’t always last, and there will be other boys and new complications.

Misunderstandings aside – Matty turning off his ringer so Jenna wouldn’t think he’s too available, leading to Jenna screening his calls because he didn’t come through for her – we feel like we’re going to enjoy this storyline. It represents a shake-up that the show badly needs, and will give us something to focus on other than happy couples. It also promises more glimpses of the Thadwick set and, potentially, more of that new romance of Sadie’s. For the first time in a long time we’re hopeful about this show’s future. – K

Quoteworthy: “That’s not cheering, Jenna. That’s 50 shades of cray!” – Tamara

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