Emulation Of Adolescence: “Awkward” Review

“Oh my God, have you heard about Jenna Hamilton?” What takes you from an uncharted freshman to the most talked about girl in school? Try a mistaken suicide attempt, a revealing blog, and drama with two of the most prominent boys around. If you think your life is rough, turn to MTV and watch these marvelous misadventures in Awkward.

Awkward is the appropriately titled comical show that is aimed directly at today’s teens. Taking place in Palos Verdes, California, the story follows the characters from school, to home, to the party with the jacuzzi that gave the attendees pink eye. The plot is highly relatable, with the characters making spontaneous decisions, much like adolescents do. Jenna Hamilton (Ashley Rickards) was at summer camp, hoping to make the sensuous Matty McKibben (Beau Mirchoff) her boyfriend. Her subtle victory in love was corrupted when she returned to school that September. Jenna received an anonymous “carefrontation letter” pointing out her flaws and became known for a misunderstood suicide attempt.

Beyond the hurtful letter and embarrassment of going through school with a neck brace and cast, her love life is in turmoil. After Matty ignores Jenna, Jake Rosati (Brett Davern), the smart class president, comes into the picture. Jenna is tossed between the two relationships, leaving her romantically befuddled. What’s worse is that Jake and Matty are best friends, and the swing of affinities even interferes with their friendship. Jenna’s character depicts the basic teenager; not the beauty queen or nerd, but the girl who can’t always decide on things. Matty and Jake are both popular, but Jake has an easier time expressing his feelings, whereas Matty is a bit more hesitant. Both mean well, but Matty may come off as arrogant, and Jake the sweet one. The plot is constantly moving, and the individual subplots surrounding Jenna’s ultimate decision (Team Matty or Team Jake?) always hold the attention of the viewer.

Jenna doesn’t endure the hardships of high school alone, however. The supporting cast is outstanding, and they contribute to the “it” factor of the show. Tamara (Jillian Rose Reed), the faithful best friend who gives advice on the phone when she has her own boyfriend problems, is spunky and imaginative. She comes up with unique catch phrases for situations, including “big fail Mary” and “shame spiral.” Ming (Jessica Lu), Jenna’s other best friend, is caring and tries to help while she can. She can’t hang out often because of her strict Asian parents, but when she does, she parties hard, including getting drunk. Sadie Saxton (Molly Tarlov) is the insecure mean girl that will take any opportunity she gets to insult Jenna. She is delightfully rude with her sarcastic tagline when she tells you the brutal truth: “You’re welcome.”

The adults on the show have somewhat unrealistic personalities, but it adds to the humor. Jenna’s mom, Lacey (Nikki Deloach), is a young parent who acts more like a girlfriend to her daughter than a parental figure. She often confuses Jenna more with her problems with her husband, Jenna’s dad. Underneath her want for material things, she truly cares for her only child. Perhaps the zaniest character on the show, Val (Desi Lydic) is the guidance counselor who shells out her own problems during her sessions with Jenna. She comes out with outrageous accusations and gets into her business, such as trying to get the details of if anything happened between Jenna and a boy at a party.

The witty, cleverly written script not only depicts realistic situations in the chaotic halls of the Palos Verdes high school, but mirrors the viewers’ lives, too. The narration is one of the highlights that make the show unique. The audience doesn’t simply watch the show; they live it. If Jenna gets a snotty remark thrown at her by Sadie, the head cheerleader, she’ll pause for a moment of inner commentary, complete with thoughtful facial expressions. Her reasoning is released, and that makes it feel as if you’re Jenna best friend. In addition to the revealing accounts, she writes her feelings on a blog. Jenna even uses the social networks of today to confirm that she is “in a relationship” at one point.

The creator of the show, Lauren Iungerich, explained that she tried to put herself into the show, and made sure that it would be able to relate to teens. The story also holds a message; you have to be yourself and do what you feel is right. Others can’t force you into doing anything, and being honest with yourself is the overall theme. The show captures the element of being a teenage girl, but still appeals to the opposite sex.

Awkward will leave you feeling sorry for Jenna, but at the same time laughing at how something similar happened to you last week. Catching the basic point of youth, the strong characters and dialogue will keep you chuckling, but you’ll also feel like your heart is breaking. It will delight anyone looking for a good time, because everyone has passed through an inelegant stage. Before you can thank anyone for this spectacular mirror of life, let me just quote the famous words of Sadie Saxton: “You’re welcome.”

Madison Fernandez, Age 13, Grade 8, Mark Twain I.S. 239 for the Gifted and Talented, Silver Key

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