Just Having An Angsty Teenage Moment – Awkward

Awkward - Poster from IMDB.com

Awkward – Poster from IMDB.com

Awkward (2011)

Creator: Lauren Iungerich
Stars: Molly Tarlov, Ashley Rickards and Beau Mirchoff

I discovered this show late one night while I was scanning through a list of shows on GetGlue. I started watching the first episode at 10pm as something to fall asleep to. Six hours later I had not slept and I had finished the first season. I’ve gone back again and watched the first half of it through again and I have to say MTV has actually done something right for once.

Awkward tells the story of Jenna, a bit of a nobody at her American high school but after a summer camp and her first time with a guy from her school – Matty – she is confronted with the prospect of becoming high school famous as she has an accident whilst choking on some Asprin which makes it seem like she has attempted to commit suicide.

The season unfolds with Jenna finding her new found status on the school’s radar as “That Girl” both troubling and exciting. The complexity of teenage relationships, the pressure of high school, and the humour behind having parents who were only 16 when they had you brings the tormented world of high school to life.

I really love this show because of the character of Jenna and how she seems to be one of the only three sane characters in the entire show along with her father and Jake, the golden jock. Her sense of humour is delightfully dry and the way she approaches tricky situations is balanced with a reasonable amount of both crazy and sensible. It creates a perfectly real character that intrigues and makes you want to keep being involved in Jenna’s life. You want to be her friend and to help her make better life decisions and you want to bitch slap Sadie and Matty at points for her. Jenna is a compelling character because she is conveyed to be misunderstood and underestimated by those around her.

The relationships that Jenna forms over the season bring to light a complexity to people that we all know is there but it really can be seen in teenagers as they try and work out life. The things that go unsaid because of fear, or the reasons why some people are awful to all those around them are not just as simple as the fact that they are awful people. Jenna’s relationship with her nemesis Sadie is an interesting one because Sadie isn’t your typical pretty, thin, popular mean girl, she is popular because her family is rich. It’s a different take on the mean girl because it shows the real insecurity of bullies. It reveals the true nature of teenagers in their own little world and the fact that no matter who you are and where you come from the insecurities that haunt you also haunt others. The beauty in this for a teen show is that it makes you, as the viewer, relate to the characters on screen. No matter how old you are there will be resemblances of you in this show, especially if you are a woman, although I feel that the male characters are quite true to form in their complexity and confusion.

The story line of the show is mixed with humour and seriousness but it is held together well with the arching narrative of the ominous letter and the mystery of who wrote it to begin with. The narrative within each episode isn’t strong and it at points can seem to struggle pushing through the 20 minute episodes. It is however one of those shows where you get to the end of the episode and without thinking go to the next one because you are compelled to keep watching these characters and see where their lives will lead them. It will be interesting to see how long the show goes for and how they continue to chart the course of Jenna’s experiences but I am looking forward to seeing where they take it.

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