Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review: MTV's Awkward

(I'm home with a fever which means free time!)

It started with a misunderstanding of epic proportions. And then another misunderstanding of epic proportions.

After Jenna loses her virginity (in a typical, lackluster way in a utility closet) to a popular boy at summer camp, he promptly tells her that no one can know he likes her. Womp-womp.

As soon as Jenna gets home, still wallowing in her disappointing de-flowering, she gets an anonymous letter telling her basically that she sucks. Uh! Whammy! Depressed, Jenna decides to take 2 Advil and take a bath. But when she tries to dry-swallow the Advil, she chokes, and in a slapstick turn of events, breaks the bottle and spills all the pills on the floor, knocks a bucket of razors and a hair dryer into the tub, slips on the pills and breaks her arm on her way down to the bathroom floor.

You can see how this scene might be construed as a suicide attempt.

So Jenna starts her sophomore year with a big ole cast and a neck brace. And in the way that teenagers do, everyone spreads equally ridiculous rumors about Jenna's misfortune. To add insult to injury, in the most literal interpretation of that phrase, that's the way she looks the first time she and Matty, her secret de-virginator, see each other post-tryst.

I think this show is hilarious. I love dead pan humor, and the writing for Jenna is great, as is actress Ashley Rickard's execution of the character. Jenna and her two best friends, Tamara and Ming are great at being awkward outsiders + gigantic arm cast. You want to root for Jenna! MTV isn't known for creating quality TV shows (Skins remake anyone?), but I think they could have a hit with this one.

Also in the cast are Jenna's cheerleader foes, who despite being sort of a predictable choice, seem like they'll be pretty interesting characters. After Jenna defeats head bitch, Sadie, in a pep-rally challenge, Sadie definitely has it in for loser Jenna. And they seem to have control over dumb jock Matty, but fellow jock, Jake, seems sympathetic. (Love interest!) Jenna's dysfunctional guidance counselor, Valerie, also seems promising for some slapstick fun.

My only beef is that Jenna's irresponsibly ditzy mom is definitely not old enough to be a mother, unless she was a teen mom. And it looked like they lived in a pretty big house, and teen parents don't often turn out to be millionaires. Her dad looked like a baby dad too. What gives, MTV casting?

After Jenna's triumphant pep-rally win, she goes home to find 22 new friend requests on her fictional social networking site of choice (or was it myspace? Looked kind of like it.) to add to her paltry 11-friend count. Tamara calls to let her know some guy asked if he could give Jenna a sponge bath with his tongue. Jenna may be awkward and have half her body in a cast, but things are looking up.

I think this looks like a great show. I love that Jenna is a smart and funny character, and while her friends seem a little ditzy they can be developed. As Bust pointed out, this show has the same sort of tone as My So-Called Life, Juno, Saved!, and Rocket Science, all TV shows/movies with awesome, underdog, smart, and funny female leads. I'm looking forward to seeing how Jenna's character develops as the show goes on.

You can watch the pilot now online or watch the premiere at 11pm tonight on MTV.

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