Review: Awkward

I simultaneously both love and hate this show. That is the best way I know how to describe my feelings toward it. There’s a lot to love in these short 20 minutes sitcom-style episodes, but also a number of things which, in my opinion, should have been handled differently.

* SLIGHT SERIES SPOILERS THROUGHOUT *

I firmly believe that Jenna is one of the most realistic characters on TV. She’s a passably decent student with one great subject (writing), she has a few friends (but not a ton), she’s attractive (without being an H-O-T hot MTV teenager), and she’s got parents with just as many problems as she does. She’s been the victim and perpetuator of school-wide gossip as well as landed herself smack in the middle of countless awkward situations. She is, in short, as normal a character as can be found on MTV. Jenna and her friends represent the faces of thousands of high school students all over the country, people who are going through the same teenage drama as can be found in the show.

And I love the show for that. I love that Awkward isn’t afraid to get real about problems that everyday people have. They’re not faking car accidents just for the sake of TV or skirting around the real conversations. Over the last four seasons, Jenna and her friends have talked about sex, teenage pregnancy, mental illness, mean girls, bodily insecurities, and LGBT issues in a natural and non-judgmental way. Instead of preaching it, they just live it. You see the cast come up against these topics naturally and that makes it relatable and understandable for the audience.

That said, the show also drives me nuts sometimes.

Awkward is startlingly too realistic about some of the Jenna/Mattie relationship drama. For the last four seasons, their relationship has been a driving force on the show, encompassing a large majority of Jenna’s writing and voiceover narration. So even if you take out the back and forth love triangles and the intra-friend group dating that’s gone on (all things that admittedly real teens do), Jenna’s attention to her relationship with Mattie comes off as borderline obsessive. She focused so much on her relationship and put him first during crucial studying years of school; it nearly cost her college admission. Sure, your first love will always be on your mind, but this depiction of a characteristically unhealthy relationship has not been a good role model.

Secondly, while the show is open to all kinds of socioeconomic, LGBT, and familial structure diversity, there is a serious lack of ethnic and racial diversity in the cast. Except for Sadie’s Hispanic boyfriend Sergio, Mattie’s pseudo girlfriend Gaby the tennis star, and the earlier arc with Ming and the Asian Mafia, the cast is almost entirely white-washed. This can be reflective of many suburban school districts throughout the country, but a network like MTV, which strives to be a good role model for all teens, should be a bit more proactive about representing their wider audience.

Have you ever seen Awkward? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments down below!

P.S. – My favorite part, and probably everyone’s favorite part are the Tamara-isms. That girl’s slang is ridiculous and I can’t help but laugh every time she opens her mouth.

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