I am a sucker for the chick-flick teen comedy. There I admitted it. Some of my favorite movies are Sixteen Candles, 10 Things I Hate About You, Mean Girls, and most recently Easy A. So when I saw the trailer a few months ago for MTV’s new comedy TV series, Awkward, I knew I would be in love. After watching the series premiere, I am happy to say I wasn’t wrong. This show is completely charming, in the most raunchy way possible.
The show’s premise is very clichéd. The main star, Jenna Hamilton (Ashley Rickards, you know that foster kid Brooke from One Tree Hill took care of), is that awkward invisible 15 year old girl who loses her virginity to her long time crush, Matty McKibbens (Beau Mirchoff), who is extremely popular and doesn’t want anyone to know about their little tryst. After a freak accident that Jenna’s parents, doctors, classmates, and teachers mistake for a suicide attempt; Jenna becomes that girl. All of a sudden she is in a humongous arm and neck cast and everyone is talking about her, including those mean girl cheerleaders.
The reason that Awkward gets it right is because while they have a clichéd premise, they take those overused stereotypes and give them a twist (well, sort of, you can tell that they stole a lot of the supporting characters personalities from shows like Glee and Easy A.) The boy of Jenna’s dreams, Matty, he’s basically Finn from Glee. He’s a little spacy and slow and it on the football team. Matty’s best friend Jake (Brett Davern), who is also on the football team, is a little more popular and dates one of the cheerleaders, Lissa (Greer Grammer), who is basically Quinn from season 1 of Glee; she’s the pretty blonde cheerleader, whose not so smart herself, and is totally Christian.
But the best stereotype Awkward twisted up was the character of the schools resident mean girl, Sadie (Molly Tarlov). Sadie is not your typical cheerleader. While she is the most popular girl in school, she is also overweight and very insecure about it. If she didn’t have her family’s wealth and power to back her up, she’d probably be just as much a loser as Jenna is. So she takes her insecurities out on everyone, especially Jenna, who now has become more noticed than she ever has in the past.
You also have Jenna’s awkward best friends, Tamara and Ming (Jillian Rose Reed and Jessica Lu), as well as Jenna’s young, oblivious, and wealthy parents Lacey and Kevin (Nikki Deloach and Mike Faiola). Jenna’s friends are each unique. Tamara is a hippie indie chick who has a lot of personality. You can tell that she is totally not like Jenna and is way more outgoing. Then there is Ming, who is Asian, and not all that smart. Oh the irony! Jenna’s parents are very aloof and more concerned with their wealth and status than they are with the emotional state of their daughter, which is why they were so quick to jump to the conclusion that she tried to kill herself. It’s all very entertaining and I’ll be interested in seeing where these characters are headed.
And then there is the over stereotyped guidance counselor whose personality never changes no matter what show it is. Yes that’s right; Awkward has its own wildly inappropriate guidance counselor named Valerie (Desi Lydic), who is a young blonde and not all quite right the head (at one point in her meeting with Jenna, she takes out Jenna’s mints from Jenna’s bag, mistakes them for pills, then proceeds to eat them while splitting them back into the mint container. I really hope Jenna discarded that mint box asap. )
Now I am not saying that this show is the next all great American comedy but it sure is the first scripted MTV show that I’ve seen that I have liked from the very beginning. Ashley Rickards is absolutely fantastic as the main lead of this show and all the supporting actors are just as charming, if not completely and utterly awkward; like the show wants them to be. It takes the whole it’s only high school premise and expands on it in an extremely hilarious way. It’s about a girl who is trying to embrace a traumatizing event that happened to her and use it to her advantage to find herself.
So do yourself a favor and check this quirky comedy out. The pilots free on iTunes and I think you can also watch the episode on MTVs website as well.