Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Teen metamorphoses still inimitably 'Awkward'

(Published Nov. 4, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“Awkward” isn’t a traditional teen show, which was clearly evident since its 2011 debut. Centering on the self-aware but faltering Jenna Hamilton (Ashley Rickards), the show captured the essence of high-school life for the hopelessly uncool and the underappreciated.

It certainly was awkward for unassuming Jenna, who got intimate with the school’s popular hottie Matty (Beau Mirchoff) before they even became a real couple. Season one was mostly about the perplexed girl dealing with a secret sexual relationship, as well as the mistaken popular belief that she tried to commit suicide. (It was actually just a really unfortunate accident.)

“Awkward’s” main relationship teetered between unofficial and nonexistent in the second season, but Jenna settled for Matty’s best buddy Jake (Brett Davern), who was genuinely attracted to her.

When Jake discovered Jenna and Matty’s complicated past, however, both the smitten hunks openly wooed her. But not surprisingly, she effortlessly chose Matty.

Its first two seasons only had 12 episodes each, but season three has been expanded to 20. Now that Jenna and Matty are officially an item, the next phase involves the testing and exploration of the relationship. Because they belong to different cliques, Jenna is second-guessing herself. She is also intrigued by a new classmate, the well-read Collin (Nolan Gerard Funk of “Glee”).

In that regard, the show is becoming a bit formulaic, falling into some familiar storytelling tropes along the way. We see the new Matty-Jenna-Collin triangle coming from miles away, but we hope that the story line won’t yield to soap-ish clichés, and that it will offer new twists on old ideas instead.

The new episodes are still characteristically smart, accompanied by Jenna’s witty and wry narration. Like an amalgam of “Doogie Howser’s” computer journals and “The Wonder Years’” poignant recollections, Jenna’s blogging thoughts magnify the character’s unique and momentous insights.

While concurrent story lines are sometimes clearly divided as either comedic or dramatic parts, “Awkward” still offers a cohesive whole. Jenna’s BFF Tamara (Jillian Rose Reed) still has some of the best comedic lines, complementing the more serious romance issues.

And the sexual intimacy of the characters is a subject that isn’t ignored. A pregnancy scare is tackled in one episode, while the discovery of Jenna and Matty’s private activities is discussed by their shocked parents in another.

The new season reiterates that “change is awkward,” signifying more transformations to come—and change is, as usual, crucial to Jenna’s growth. In any case, “Awkward” still intelligently reflects the unspoken-of parts of high-school life and gives us a special perspective of its surmountable struggles.

“Awkward” airs Tuesdays, 11:30 p.m., and Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m. on MTV Asia.

No comments: