Television

Too much sex, not enough satire: a mid-season review of MTV’s Awkward

Serendipitously, OffToTheGraces and I discovered MTV’s Awkward at the same time, but totally separately. She found it via her TV writer sleuthing, and knew she was about to uncover some shimmering gold because of certain people behind it.

I, on the other hand, found it the old fashioned way: channel surfing at an unreasonably late hour with my sister. And, even happier still, the first episode I saw was one of the best episodes of the series (IE, any episode that contains ratchet-aunt Ally).

Crazy aunt don't mess around.

Crazy aunt don’t mess around.

Both of us Tube Toppers devoured the first two seasons, and it wasn’t solely because we maybe have a thing for 20-something year olds dressed up as high schoolers. It was self-consciously funny. It was tongue in cheek. It was just the right amounts of explicit, ridiculous, and heartfelt. What we loved about Awkward was how we could guiltlessly involve ourselves in the love triangle dramz because the cast of larger than life characters and appropriations of POP-culture tropes like the #TeamMatty/#TeamJake joke or Tamara’s totally unreasonable “slanguage” made it satirical, too.

Now that the Spring mid-series finale of Season III has come and gone, I can admit to myself (and the h8rs who h8d on Awkward), that this season has not grabbed me like the past two did. Season III has thus far lost the edge that made Awkward awesome because it became it lilted to the side of DRAAAMA while walking that fine dramedy line. We could say we blame the plot – Jenna got her man! exploitatively cliche-yet-compelling love triangle tension was spent! – but what made the show great wasn’t the plot, it was its self-conscious edge. Like the incredibly annoying Jenna this season, Awkward’s execution got too self involved and was not able to take a step back and point out how the silly things it was depicting were funny to the point of absurd.

This was true for the characters, too. Jenna’s hyper self consciousness that in past episodes drove her to larger-than-life stunts to prove something to herself, this season turned into whining, not doing. Tamara became purely popularity grubbing rather than the fiercely independent yet caught up in social media ball of contradictions she’d been. Even Matty was reduced to the jock with the heart of gold, as opposed to the jock with a mostly good heart who’s also just kind of a dumb douchebag.

This season, Sadie lost her money, her popularity, and her ability to be much more than a bitch trope.

This season, Sadie lost her money, her popularity, and her ability to be much more than a mouthpiece for the “you’re welcome” gag.

The solution? Obviously more of this fantastic Pinot Trio.

GROW A PAIR, LIL' BITCH!

GROW A PAIR, LIL’ BITCH!

But seriously folks. Awkward’s all in good fun, and  it’s still highly entertaining. But it lost its lustre that made it more than a fun teen show, and I hope it gets it back. Yes, for my entertainment value, but also so there’s a sheen of the absurd over its depictions of teen lyfe so that all of Awkward’s, erm, intended (read = younger than me) viewers don’t assume that they should be drinking and sexing as much as these fools. Teens are highly impressionable, you know.

So what does a mid-series finale mean, and when will Awkward return? The internet seems to think it will be back this fall with another 10 episodes to fill out the second half of Season III. Until then, we’ll be excited to see who Jenna’s mackin’ on this time and whether Awkward will have gotten its groove back.

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