MTV’s Awkward aired its first season back in 2011 and quickly became the teen series that fell somewhere in the middle of the unattainable looks and bank accounts of The OC, and the realistic and cautionary Degrassi.
The series centers around Jenna, a 15 year-old teenager who finds herself catapulted from obscurity to notoriety thanks to a slip in the bathroom that results in a rumour that she tried to commit suicide. A tale as old as time, right?
After losing her virginity to her crush Matty over the summer, Jenna returns to school to find that Matty is not only avoiding making their relationship official, but he’s also pretending she doesn’t exist. To pile on another layer of suckage, there’s a care-frontation letter waiting for her at home on the first day of school. The letter outlines all the ways Jenna is letting herself become invisible, something that is no longer an issue after she breaks her arm and inadvertently becomes ‘suicide girl.’
An aspiring writer, Jenna takes her voice-over cues from Carrie Bradshaw and blogs her life, which in five seasons eventually includes love triangles, broken hearts, fights with parents, fights with besties, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, crappy SAT scores, and a lot of hoodies.
Though focused on the life of a teenage girl and the people in her circle, Awkward is a show with an audience that extends well into drinking, voting, marrying, and saving for RRSPs-age.
Thanks to its hilarious and heartfelt writing and cast of well-developed characters, Awkward’s appeal isn’t limited to those skipping study hall.
There’s Jenna’s bestie Tamara, whose razor sharp wit and speedy delivery of her own slang rivals that of Blossom’s Six. She is supportive towards Jenna, but not to the point where her life revolves around her identity as Jenna’s friend. Tamara is her own, type-A person, with her own issues to deal with.
There’s the quintessential cute football player Matty, the guy who makes going to school bearable every day. Matty may start out as a jerk, but quickly becomes a more layered, likable character to help progress his storyline with Jenna. It would be easier if he was consistently cruel and easy to dislike, but that would also make the series unrealistic.
There’s the mean girl, played by the unfortunately one-note Sadie, though she is easy to hate and makes a great villain.
There’s Val, the second-coming of Dharma, an overstepping, over accessorized guidance counselor who would be better served receiving advice from teenagers than doling it out herself.
There’s Jenna parents Lacey and Kevin, former teen parents who got lucky and survived a high school pregnancy, going on to have a successful marriage. Still, their relationship receives a big knock when their opinions on parenting threaten to break the two up in a storyline that crosses a few seasons and opens a discussion about the right, wrong, and possibly misguided way to love your child.
The adults in Awkward are just as, if not more, confused than the teens, a dark reality that becomes glaringly obvious as people transition into adulthood. Awkward reminds viewers of a time when trying on ‘adulting’ for size seemed like fun, but usually resulted in a desire to return to days filled with recess and naps.
It’s also a great reminder that no one really wants to go back to high school. Not really.
Seasons 1 to 5 of Awkward will be available on CraveTV starting November 18, 2016.