Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Awkward." - "My Super Bittersweet Sixteen"

Spoilers for the latest episode of "Awkward." (lose the period, MTV) after the jump:

I was so frustrated with Jenna throughout most of "My Super Bittersweet Sixteen": mainly because I quickly became sick of her caring so much about her friends seemingly abandoning her for something that wasn't her fault. But being frustrated with a character doesn't mean the character's actions aren't compelling and realistic, and given what we know about Jenna it makes complete sense that she'd react that way. She eventually came around in the final few moments (thanks to Val's gift of all things) in a terrific scene that was made even more so by everything she put up with over the first eighteen or so minutes. The result is an episode that's probably my favorite of the season so far.

The Jenna we've seen has never been entirely comfortable with who she is. She's defined by her relationships: with Tamara and Matty in particular. And with both of them ignoring her, she's lost. It's a bit unpleasant to watch, mainly because (as I mentioned above) we want Jenna to just say "forget it, they're the losers" and move on. And Tamara certainly is. She may have a good explanation for why she wrote that note, but until (and unless) she apologizes to Jenna I can't see myself forgiving her. But Jenna might, even as Tamara's hooking up with Ricky while still giving her best friend the cold shoulder.

On the other hand, maybe not. By episode's end, Jenna has seemingly resolved to become a new person and winds up tearing up Tamara's note. At the same time, though, she also gets back together with Matty: a person who's behavior towards her has been less-than-stellar in the past. To be fair, we actually did get see a more self-aware, sympathetic side to Matty this week: something the show's given us brief glimpses of before. Will that last? And more importantly, will Jenna's newfound sense of self? I don't think this will ever be a great series, but it's made me care about the answers to questions such as these. And it's done so in surprising and generally funny fashion.

Other Thoughts

- This is not likely to be a show I cover every week. I like it a lot, but with fall TV starting to heat up I probably won't have the time or the energy to write about it (even if there are only a handful of episodes to go this season) on an ongoing basis.

- The usual minor problems with the series continue to show up here: most notably the cartoonish behavior of many of the adults. Val's antics are pretty entertaining, though.

Grade: B+

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