July 6, 2012

Episode Review: AWKWARD., "Sex, Lies and the Sanctuary"

On a fundamental level, I should have been offended by "Sex, Lies and the Sanctuary," but I have to admit that it was a pretty decent episode once I looked past the run-of-the mill Asian stereotypes. Before we dive into racial insensitivity, let's go ahead and get the plot out of the way.

It turned out that there was a security camera pointed directly at the Sanctuary, which was where everyone did their dirty business, and there was a chance that the footage could have been leaked thus airing everyone's secrets (i.e. Jake could find out that Jenna and Matty hooked up). In order for her hands on the tape to find out whether or not her previous liaisons with Matty were filmed, Jenna had Ming infiltrate the Asian kid clique.

Meanwhile, back at home Jenna was dealing with a whole bunch of other secrets. Namely the fact that she knew that her mother wrote her the care-frontation letter, and things started to get awkward (get it?) when Lacey tried to bribe Jenna with her favorite foods in order to keep her quiet. Jenna had enough with all of the secret-keeping, and threatened to tell her father if Lacey didn't come clean herself. As always, a lesson learned at home translated to her social life, and Jenna decided to come clean with Jake.

Speaking of Jake, he was having a hard time getting over the fact that Jenna was not a virgin and that she loved the guy she was with. Since that's the kind of information you share with your bro, he vented to Matty who in turn went to Jenna so he could let her know that he loved her too, which ruined her chance to confess. Luckily for her, Jake was able to be a man and put his insecurities behind him and didn't need to know what happened before they were together.

Jenna kept going back and forth on whether she should tell Jake the truth or take the easy way out by keeping it to herself. Matty texted her to meet him at the Sanctuary because he also got his hands on the video and wanted to let her know that they were in the clear. When he found out that she already knew, he expected them to talk about his admission of love, but instead all he got was the realization that he made Jenna feel ashamed while they were doing their thing. Since she was tried of all of the secrets, she started leaning towards telling Jake everything, but Matty asked her to keep their secret because he didn't want to lose Jake like he lost her. Of course, Jenna had to blog about everything that transpired, and her anonymous commenter chimed in with some words of wisdom about not sharing other people's secret, which convinced her to not out her mother. At the end of the episode, Lacey decided to do the right thing, and she told Kevin (Jenna's dad) what she had done.

Oh, and there were the subplots about Ming being manipulated by the head of the Asian mafia, and Valerie blackmailing the principal into making her vice principal.

OK, let me get on my soapbox for one minute. I shouldn't have been shocked that this episode relied so heavily on Asian stereotypes (it seems like Asians are the only group you can still make fun of and get away with it), but it was a little unsettling at first. I'm sure that some will say that I'm being overly sensitive because that's everyone's comeback on the Internet, but let me ask a few questions. Would MTV had allowed Awkward. to say that there are only two types of African-American people, and that not falling into one of those groups made someone "white"? Probably not. Would they have allowed a table full of African-American students sit around and eat nothing but fried chicken? Heck no. So, why was it OK for Becca (the manipulative Asian student) to say that there's only "school" and "cool" Asians? Why was it OK for all of the Asian kids to eat nothing but sushi... with chopsticks? Think about it.

Now, I'll admit that Becca was so over the top that we weren't supposed to take anything she said or did seriously, but it's still a slippery slope when a television show aimed at younger viewers makes it OK to mock other people for being different and how not fitting in to a certain type can lead to being an outcast. And yes, I'm fully aware that Awkward. does this with other groups of people, but usually the jokes aren't aimed at someone's race or ethnicity. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that this show's racist, but it is lazy for resorting to so many easy and worn out punchlines. That being said, I did find some of Ming's sub-plot entertaining mostly because it meant that she actually had something to do and was veering away from her token status. Rant over.

So, let's talk about some of the other stuff I liked. First, I was so relieved that the writers did not have Lacey deny writing the letter or drag out the secret for very long because that would have gotten old really fast. I guess you can't waste time when you only have twelve episodes. I would still like it if Lacey was remotely sympathetic, but at this point I'm more interested in how Kevin's going to react to what she did. I just hope that this news doesn't mean that we'll be seeing less of him and more of Jenna's mom, but I'm afraid that's where we're headed.

I also thought that the continuation of the Jenna/Jake/Matty love triangle was well handled, and I was glad that Jenna finally told Matty about how she felt while they were "together." The thing I never quite got though was why she waited so long. Things wouldve worked out so much better if she had just been upfront with Matty to begin with, but then I suppose we would've missed out on all of the angsty drama. Still, the fact that Jenna was way too caught up in her own head and essentially sabotaged her relationship with Matty was infuriating to watch last season.

Other Odds and Ends:

  • Less Tamara = Better Episode. Coincidence? Probably not.
  • I actually missed Lissa this week.
  • Oh great, Valerie has more power and responsibilities. Wonderful.
  • I know that I'm biased, but I really feel bad for Matty. I thought his "I love you" was sweet.
  • Be-hymen. Classic!

Cheap racial stereotypes and contrived drama aside, I thought that "Sex, Lies and the Sanctuary" had its moments and was ultimately a pretty entertaining episode of television. Maybe it's because they cut down on the Juno-speak and threw in some much appreciated bleeped out curse words (which I know isn't new).


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