June 29, 2012

Episode Review: AWKWARD., "Resolutions"

Before we get to the recap of "Resolutions," I need to make a confession: I have a love/hate relationship with MTV's Awkward. On one hand, I appreciated how it was able to navigate such well-worn high school tropes without feeling stale during Season 1. On the other, it's hard to look past some of the overly cartoonish characters who are nothing more than poorly developed stereotypes or tokens, and let's not forget the fact that everyone talks like they're from 2007.

Now, I'll readily admit that there's a lot to like about Awkward. like Jenna, the main character, who was able to tip-toe the fine line between being a cliche and a credible high schooler. Sometimes she drifted towards the former, but overall I'd say that Ashley Rickards was able to create a character who's believable and someone we can relate to. Similarly, I enjoyed how her two love interests, Matty and Jake, who also didn't fall into strictly defined roles such as the dumb jock or the boy next door. Sure, those were the molds they came from, but Beau Mirchoff and Brett Davern were able to give them some added depth that most boyfriends fail to get in teenage rom-coms. It's just too bad that the rest of the cast members weren't given more to do  than be cardboard cut-outs of very familiar characters that we've seen a million times before. Let's hope things turn around for Tamara, Ming and Valerie (although Jenna's dad's pretty cool).

OK, let's get on with the show. When we last saw Awkward., Jenna had just had the the time of her life at the winter formal with Jake, and she decided that he was the one for her and broke things off with Matty. She was so caught up in her young love, that she accidentally set off her house's security alarm, which led her to the junk drawer, which led to the reveal that her mother was the one who sent her the "carefrontation" letter (for newbies, this letter was a list of blunt suggestions that Jenna should take in order to be less of a nobody and was the center of a mystery that weaved in and out of the first season), and things pretty much picked up from there.

The episode started in the midst of winter break, and Jenna was getting into the holiday cheer by writing a pretty terrible poem that summed up what happened up until that point and how she didn't know how to confront her mother about the aforementioned letter. Lucky for us, the Christmas motif didn't end there because we got the chance to see what Jenna's parents got her. Her mom bought her a necklace that was supposed to signify her preciousness, and her dad got her a box of condoms. See, I told you her dad was cool.

Fast forward to New Year's Eve. Jenna's getting ready to go to a party at Matty's while her mom kept pestering her about how Jake hasn't made their relationship "online official," but little did she know that it was Jenna who was holding up the confirmation. Once at the party, Matty made it clear that he still had feelings for Jenna and that he wanted her to give him a second chance. Meanwhile, she was avoiding Jake until she figured out how she really felt about him. Thankfully, Valerie (the guidance counselor) called her and was a crying mess because of some misunderstanding she had with the guy she was dating or some other non-sense, and Jenna realized that she had to let go of Matty and be with Jake as she was giving advice to the adult who was supposed to be looking out for her well-being.

While dropping Jenna off at home, Jake saw her dad's gift, and she used the moment as an opportunity to come clean about part of her past. She admitted that she was not a virgin and that she was in love with the person at the time, but he was not reassured by the revelation. Sensing his disappointment, she asked him if he wanted out of the relationship, and he said that he was all in but questioned if she felt the same way. She decided to show him exactly how committed she was by accepting his proposal and making them online official. Apparently, going public with Jake was the boost Jenna needed to passive-aggressively let her mother know that she knew who sent the "carefrontation" letter by handing her a note on the exact same stationary that said, "THIS IS WHO YOU ARE."

I've gotta be honest, this first episode back had me torn because it exhibited the exact same problems that Season 1 had, and it gave me a pretty clear impression that things are not going to change any time soon. Most of the characters are still spouting out nonsensical dialogue that only Diablo Cody could come up with while still being paper thin at best. Sure, it's only been a few weeks since the events of last year's finale, and I shouldn't expect things to change over night, but I can only listen to lines like "tickle his pickle" for so long. And don't get me started on Valerie. Seriously, when Emma Pillsbury has her stuff together more than you do, then you've failed as a guidance counselor.  Just saying. OK, that wasn't fair because Emma's a pretty great guidance counselor, but I digress.

The thing is, I'm still invested in the core romance between Jenna, Matty and Jake, which is a little odd since love triangles tend to be repetitive and boring, but I'm won over by how charming the three of them are. Well, two of them at least. I don't get her attraction to Jake, but that's probably because I'm on Team Matty and he bores me. That being said, I wasn't upset when Jenna made her choice because it made the most sense from a storytelling perspective, and it gives Matty something to work towards this season while Jenna struggles with her feelings.

Other Odds and Ends
  • Resolutions" also set up a new mystery in the form of an anonymous commenter on Jenna's blog. This shouldn't be a big deal, but it freaked her out, which makes me wonder why she's writing a blog if she wants everything to be a secret. Wouldn't a diary make more sense?
  • They're still focusing on Tamara's on-again-off-again drama with what's his face? Ugh!
  • The fact that I find the term "online official" completely asinine should be a good indicator that I'm not in this show's intended demographic. Yet here I am.
  • Sadie and Lissa are still the standard queen bee and Christian bitch respectively, but I enjoy watching them subvert expectations.
  • Can the writers please turn Ming to something more than just a run-of-the-mill Asian stereotype?
  • I'm sure Jenna's mom is going to deny being the writer of the letter for a little while, but her face spoke volumes at the end of the episode, so at least we don't have to keep wondering who dunnit.
Maybe if I'm able to tune out the mindless tween chatter and inappropriate student/teacher relationships, and just focus on the budding love story between Jenna and her two suitors, then I'll be able to make it to the end of Season 2. Man, I'm getting too old for this show.


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