A solid, witty, intriguing start to the second season of a solid, witty, intriguing and not-really-guilty-pleasure MTV show. Definitely worth a watch, for dudes too.
I miss MTV’s The Hard Times of RJ Berger. That show was funny and vulgar and sweet and wonderful for all us nerdy dudes out there who had self-esteem issues.
But that show got canceled, so I thought I had to settle for what basically amounted to the girl version of Hard Times, Awkward. (period included), which traded the vulgarity for hot dudes and extra dramatic spice. Initially skeptical, I gradually warmed to Awkward. throughout its first season for its wit, charm and dramatic undertones that Hard Times never totally delved into.
After attending a panel in which they screened the first two episodes of the second season, it’s clear that all the good wit, and the good drama, is in full force. For those of you who don’t know, the show centers on Jenna Hamilton (the brilliant Ashley Rickards–I’m not being hyperbolic when I say she’s brilliant, she’s in MENSA), initially an awkward social outcast, who, after an accident misconstrued as a suicide attempt caused by a ‘carefrontation letter’ sent by an anonymous party and an ostensibly awkward first time at camp with school hottie Matty McKibben (Beau Mirchoff), begins to get noticed by her peers. With the help of her friends Tamara (the fast-talking delight Jillian Rose Reed–marry me) and Ming (Jessica Lu), her guidance-counselor-that-needs-counseling Valerie Marks (Desi Lydic), and her well-meaning-but-obviously-terrible parents Kevin (Mike Faiola) and Lacey (the underrated Nikki DeLoach), Jenna navigates the ‘savage’ waters of liking two boys who like her back, popular but insecure and at times douchey Matty, and popular and nice but a bit bland Jake Rosati (the incredibly funny Brett Davern, who, according to Rickards, is the better kisser… just thought you’d like to know, America). Recurring subplots include the dramatic quest for identity of the author of the carefrontation letter, Jenna’s encounters with school bitch Sadie (the exquisitely hilarious Molly Tarlov, you’re welcome), Tamara’s on-off relationship with Ricky Schwartz and Jenna’s relationship with dumb, abstinent blonde Lissa (fellow Trojan Greer Grammer), Jake’s ex-girlfriend.
You should watch Season 1 to catch up (it’s all on MTV.com online), but you could jump in if you wanted to having only seen the pilot (from what I hear).
Creator and head writer Lauren Iungerich has created an excellent world of nuanced, realistic characters (at least in the female department) and serves you up with a great deal of humor that comes from unexpected places (the season’s second episode in particular serves up a wonderful dose of reverse racism jokes–Vincent, you’ll enjoy).
The acting, from Rickards and DeLoach in particular, is surprisingly excellent. Rickards–who you would think upon hearing her speak in real life would be totally out of her element in a role like Jenna–aces it, and DeLoach brings an incredibly layered portrayal to Lacey, who is in my opinion one of the best, most underrated characters in all of television. Everyone else is good, if not great in their roles, each of them bringing something unique to the comedic and/or dramatic tables.
The one element I don’t like about the show is the characterization of Matty McKibben. He’s the female fantasy–he’s a hot jerk at the start who ‘changes’ and becomes a nice hot guy. This is why my female friends continue to date people who aren’t good for them–they think he’ll change. Right. And I’m gonna grow a vagina.
Jake is a reasonable character, and right now the show seems to be doing a good job of handling him, but my one minor quibble is that almost because he’s a nice guy, he’s too bland and white-bread for Jenna, who, by the way, went from total social outcast to #firstworldproblems with two incredibly attractive men fawning over every step she takes.
Not that I don’t respect and appreciate female empowerment/fantasy (I mean, I’d be a total hypocrite if I said I didn’t wanna see R.J. Berger in a triangle with two hot females), but at least dude fantasies in these types of shows are generally monogamous in nature. R.J. only pined for dream-girl Jenny, but realized that he truly liked Lily, his not-too-attractive friend. The love triangle on that show was awkward-hot-friend. The love triangle on this show is awkward-hot-hot. The balance is off.
But I digress. It seems like I’m harping, but in reality, I’m just nitpicking.
The show is marvelous and if you have some free time, you should check it out. You won’t regret it. Even if you’re a dude.