By: T. Julianne
I recently had the pleasure of finding a wonderful show on MTV, “Awkward.”, starring a talented cast of upcoming stars. This show focuses on the funnier and ironic side of high school: the popular kids and the outcasts. Whether it’s finding your way into the “in crowd” and wanting to fit in, catching the eye of that “perfect” guy, or simply surviving till college, “Awkward.” brings us all back to the “remember when” and for our kids the OMG Guide to surviving high school.
This amazingly fun show is not only fit for today’s teens, but any American woman who survived high school. It’s the PERFECT “through the looking glass” back into “what could have, (and in some cases) should have been”. This cute show has the perfect mixture of crazy parents, a nutty school counselor, BFF’s, BF, cute guys, creepy stalkers, band geeks, jocks and the cheer patrol, complete with “queen bee”. MTV has put together the perfect cast and built the perfect stage to entertain, not only tweens and teens, but also any mom who wants a glimpse into their child’s lives (and be thankful it’s not their kid). As a mature mom, I’ve found myself taping the show and watching it when everyone’s asleep, making sure each week that I am not the mom in the show, trying WAY too hard to fit in with the younger crowd (forgetting I’m forty, not fifteen).
For Jenna Hamilton (starring Ashley Rickards), that’s Matty McKibben (Beau Mirchoff). The stage is set when Jenna finally lands her dream guy at the end of summer camp and gives up the ultimate in teen sacrifice, her virginity. Jenna’s life lands in turmoil when she reads a letter from “A Friend” stating that no one would notice if she were dead. One bottle of spilled asprin and a slip in the bathroom later, Jenna finds herself standing out in high school, in a way she could never imagined, as the attempted suicide with a broken collar bone and a cast that make her seem like the only kid in class who always has a hand up (literally).
Jenna’s life is a roller coaster of navigating high school, suddenly in the spotlight, gaining popularity and the attentions of several guys, including Matty’s best friend, Jake Rosati, (Brett Davern). Jenna likes Matty, but he doesn’t want ANYONE to know they are “hooking up”. Jake is dating Lissa, part of the cheer patrol (who’s BFF, Sadie likes Matty and hates Jenna), but finds himself falling for Jenna. Jenna and Jake share a kiss, that brings up feelings Jenna is unwilling to acknowledge. Jake is a perfect match for Jenna, but like anyone who’s given up their virginity, that first love is HARD to let go. Jake is also having a difficult time giving up his girlfriend for Jenna. In an unusual twist Awkward goes from a love triangle to a love square in an instant. As I’ve watched I can see how perfect Jake and Jenna are for each other and how very wrong Matty is for Jenna. I’m not sure if the producers intended for parents to grow attached and root for these kids to make the right choices, but they’ve reached an untapped market group. As a mom I long to see Jenna truly happy, just as I would for any one of my sons. As a parent I want my child to find that perfect “other half” and I want that so very much for Jenna. But I also know that in a teens world what is good for you and what your body wants can be two very different things and for Jenna, it seems she’s craving all the wrong pieces of candy.
Jenna has two BFF’s, Tamara (Jillian Rose Reed) and Ming Haun (Jessica Lu). Ming is the average teen girl, with the stereotypical Chinese mom, but Tamara is the one who is riding Jenna’s coat tails to popularity, totally oblivious to her own outcast status. Tamara is that BFF we’ve all had and dreaded, who is so desperate to fit in that she’s putting herself out there, making a complete ass of herself along the way. Unfortunately for Jenna, she’s too sweet to say anything and finds herself being dragged into more and more hilarious adventures with Tamara. Her other BFF, Ming is often stuck on the outside, looking at a life she desperately wants, but her overprotective mother won’t let her be a part of. As Jenna’s popularity grows, she’s is being divided even among her friends and Ming is being forced to watch through cell phones and laptops, still the outcast.
Jenna’s life is further complicated by her embarrassing parents who themselves were teen parents and high school sweeties. Jenna’s mom is that one parent we’ve all seen and dreaded that failed to understand Mom/daughter and daughter’s friends, classmates, boundaries. Lacey Hamilton (played by Nikki DeLoach) is Jenna clueless mother, who seems to have never matured past the age 16. Lacey, wants to relive what she remembers as her “glory days” through her daughter, down to throwing a “kegger” with her own high school gal pal. Jenna’s dad, Kevin Hamilton (Mike Faiola), seems to be the more mature parent, but has no clue how to really relate to his teenage daughter, and lets his wife take the lead.
In the latest episode, we see Jenna’s life further complicated, when while at a party (having had alcohol and been slipped drugs by her own mom’s BF), Jenna is caught by her BFF, Tamara, kissing the wrong guy (Tamara’s love interest). Jenna seems to have blacked out what occurred at the party and spends the entire episode catching blurry glimpse of the night before. As we follow her through her foggy memories, she recalls finally calling Jake on chasing after her when he’s got a girlfriend, and corners Matty, demanding recognition of their relationship. Finally Jenna remembers that fateful kiss that is the reason Tamara won’t return any of her calls. Horrified and embarrassed, Jenna tries to reconcile with Tamara only to find out, her BFF sent her that painful letter from “A Friend”.
Jenna felt terrible about kissing Tamara’s love interest and tried to rectify it immediately. She got doughnuts and went straight to Tamara’s to explain and apologize, and was rewarded by a broken picture frame being thrown at her and Tamara revealing that she was glad she sent the letter. For the entire school year, Tamara has hidden the fact that she sent her “BFF” the letter telling her that she would fade from the world unnoticed, and then proceeded to gain her own popularity through Jenna’s new found status at school. How can she possibly be angry with someone she felt was invisible to the rest of the world? And how dare she judge Jenna when she betrayed their friendship first!
As we are nearing the season wrap up, Jenna has found herself torn between Matty, who doesn’t want the world to know they are hooking up, and his best friend, Jake. And let’s not forget her strange stalker, who sports a secret love for her in his own way, selling t-shirts saying “Jenna lives”. Perhaps, Jenna will find herself in need of her own knight in shining armor next season to protect her from more than just jealous cheerleaders, false friends, intruding parents, nutty counselors, and stalkers. Which guy will prove to be worthy of Jenna’s affection and will she make the right choices? One thing remains true for Jenna, she will NEVER be a ghost floating through high school, she’s bound to be a center piece in a high school where it seems that being part of the “in crowd” is no longer the only requirement for popularity and getting all the hot guys.
Anyone who’s lived through high school and anyone who’s now watching their kids work their own way through the delicate mine field of American High School, will laugh, cry and thoroughly enjoy this great show! And me personally, I can’t wait till next season! “Awkward.” has been my secret addiction, my hidden treasure. It’s my own personal box of chocolates, from a secret admirer (hidden under my bed), taken out once a week, savoring each sweet bite, until there are only the crumbs and memories left. As I near the end of this box, I find myself eagerly awaiting the next delivery and all the surprises (and pieces I don’t really enjoy, but am glad it’s a full box). Like Mr. Gump once said, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your gonna get”. This season, MTV has delivered and I can’t wait for the next box of chocolates (hopefully with more Jake & Jenna pieces to enjoy).
Catch brand new episodes of AWKWARD Tuesday nights at 11PM on MTV (Wednesdays at 8PM on MuchMusic in Canada) and stars Ashley Rickards, Nikki Deloach, Jillian Rose Reed, Molly Tarlov, Desi Lydic, Beau Mirchoff and Brett Davern. Catch up with past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv