Thursday, July 21, 2011

Awkward - Is it Really?

MTV, the network which was once the very definition of pop-culture and all things edgy and young, seems to be throwing WHATEVER at the wall lately, just to see what sticks. Best strategy? Time will only tell. So let's just discuss the latest offering to be slapped on our viewing plate, even though it might be a bit Awkward ...

Simply put - Awkward is excellent. I rolled my eyes during initial previews of the show. Leave it to MTV to try and make satire out of the premise of "a teen girl suicide attempt". But if it helps encourage you to watch it, the main character Jenna, played by the adorable Ashley Rickards, doesn't ACTUALLY try to kill herself. After some poorly worded venting online and a freak slip and fall in the bathroom with pills and other incriminating contraband strewn about, the world assumes the worst. She is here on branded as "That Girl" and now, no longer "invisible", has to navigate a new school year with all judgmental eyes on her.

What makes Awkward good is that it reinvents many of the usual teen comedy/drama cliches. Jenna is an "underdog", but she and her friends aren't COMPLETE outcasts as to make the whole exercise unbelievable. It has fun with the high school stereotypes - i.e. - the "Jock" that Jenna is smitten with is basically a clod, which Jenna isn't blind to, yet the show makes no excuses or justification for her affection towards him. The cheerleaders are evil, of course, but the head cheerleader, Queen Bee, and biggest bully, is a actually also the "fat girl", who's riddled with her own insecurities, using that energy to make life miserable for Jenna.

Refreshingly, Awkward doesn't take itself too seriously, which is something I always appreciate. Moreover, it isn't trying to create any grand enlightening social statement on the teen class system. It's just having fun. The adults (who're usually a total wash in these MTV shows) are kooky without being clueless, and Jenna, herself, is cute, sarcastic and conscious, but without being all too obnoxiously self-aware.

Icing on the cake? It's only a 30 minute show. Glad MTV got the memo. Check out Awkward, Tuesdays @ 11 pm.

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