“And Then What Happened” – Awkward.

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 8.46.49 PMWe actually really enjoyed this week’s Awkward., mostly because of the relatively unusual format. Positioning the majority of the episode in flashback, with just the right balance of mystery and filling in of blanks, was a great approach. It kept us interested. The piecemeal unfolding of the story of the aftermath of Jenna’s party kept us on the hook until the very end, which was itself made more poignant by the relative levity of the rest of the episode.

And it was light. Humor was a big part of “And Then What Happened”, playing into it in the flashbacks and the interludes. The individual characters’ storytelling style – which could almost be seen as neat little vignettes of their personalities – brought a good few laughs, making us a little relieved. Perhaps this half of the season will not be so plagued by the problems we discussed last week.

But, as we said, that ending was a stark contrast to the rest of the episode. Allowing ourselves to believe that Jenna and Matty would be okay (even if we didn’t necessarily want them to be), and enjoying the sense of fun that “And Then What Happened” sported, made that ending feel like a slap in the face. It’s definitely not a conclusion we expected, and we were kind of gobsmacked.

After two and a half seasons of Jenna pining after Matty, of thinking she wasn’t good enough for him, of wanting nothing more than Continue reading

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“Surprise!” – Awkward.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 9.09.31 PMA surprisingly decent return from MTV’s Awkward., and one which certainly surprised us. During the first half of the season – which wound up for the show’s mid-season break back in early June – we weren’t always its biggest fans. We had a lot of problems with it. Most of them were Jenna. Others were predictability, a lack of the show’s intrinsic humor, too much focus on Tamara as a creator of new words and not enough focus on her as a character (with the writers focusing a little too much on Matty and Jenna), and too much of the Asian Mafia.

This first episode back rectified a lot of those issues, though whether the fixes are temporary or permanent remains to be seen. We’ve seen reprieves before, but they’ve always been brief. Whether or not the writers can maintain this uptick in quality is something we’ll have to figure out as the season progresses. But, for now, we’re hopeful.

The episode showed some of its old humor, focusing as much on the laughs – Lacey trying to keep Jenna’s surprise birthday party a surprise, and the ever-horrible biting wit of our favorite teacher of all time, Mr Hart – as on Jenna’s status as an adulterer. The approach to the Mafia made a huge difference to the return of Awkward.’s humor. Initially a comedic element, the Mafia had, in the last half-season, devolved into a source of unnecessary mystery and intrigue, removing a lot of the laughs that came naturally from it. Under Ming’s rule, however, the Mafia has Continue reading

“Reality Check” – Awkward.

2And our brief reprieve is already past. This week saw an unwelcome return to the by now expected sub-par fare of Awkward.’s Season 3. After an episode during which we refound the faith, during which we once more believed in the magic of Jenna Hamilton et al., we’re back to the dubious ‘humor’ we’ve been presented with thus far this year.

Yes, “Reality Check” was a little bit more than we’ve come to expect recently. The laughs may have been few and far between, the Asian Mafia’s return may have been as un-amusing as usual, and Tamara’s obsession with Niall Horan may have profoundly given us the wiggins, but at least it courted controversy. Not in its content by any means – there’s nothing controversial about a teen dramedy confronting issues of lust and fantasy – but there was controversy in Jenna’s life. Conflict. Drama. And, while it was still predictable, it didn’t feel obvious. The episode was well written, to a point, and left the Collin issue wide open. It provided some tension that may sustain us through the rest of the season, and restored Sadie to her formerly villainous position.

The side issue of Ming’s new appointment as Head of the Asian Mafia was somewhat in the background, which was a blessing, but we’re now having nightmares about the alarming regularity with which the Mafia will no doubt feature. With any luck, Ming’s new position will soon see its disbanding, but we’ve never been that lucky. It’s far more likely that we will be forced to endure week after week of Ming’s unsolicited rise to the top, her transition from member of the Asian masses to all-knowing, all-controlling mob boss. The Black Donnellys of MTV shows, perhaps? Unlikely, but that’s a show we’d watch. As it stands, it’s not something we want to see on Awkward. – that storyline has never appealed.

We could say that we hope that this episode was the aberration, not last week’s, but, again, we’ve never been that lucky. – K

Quoteworthy: “The rumors have been swirling about yesterday’s fight, but I wanted to hear it from the horse’s mouth. In detail. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a good bitch brawl.” – Val

“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 Continue reading