Over the last couple of years, the number of high school based TV shows I watch has slowly dwindled down from a handful to only one or two. Perhaps its because I’m getting older, or because the TV characters in my shows are too, but that genre just doesn’t suck me in like it used to. Which is fine, everyone’s tastes change over time and its not like I’ve given up on TV, because we all know I’ve found plenty to keep me busy – but I’ve got to say from the first MTV promo for Awkward. I was excited for this show.
Did it blow my mind? No, but it wasn’t bad either and because its on in the summer and at 11pm – I feel alright about tuning in to MTV. Despite its few flaws, I’ve got to give it credit for having a rather strong yet uncomplicated premise. Awkward. is a fun and sarcastic twist on a common storyline often found on ABC Family, Lifetime, or in a “very special” episode.
Rather than getting made fun of and then deciding to end her life, the main character, Jenna falls victim to a serious of clumsy moments, which make it look like she tried to off herself. Although it was an accident, an over-dramatic blog post makes it hard for her to convince anyone otherwise. While the prospect of having to face day-to-day life in high school as “that” girl is daunting, she sucks it up and decides to make the most of her new found notoriety by trying to step outside of her comfort zone by taking some chances. Now of course because this is an MTV show and about teens, those chances seem to be the romantic kind, but still, I’ll take optimism over emo angst any day.
Speaking of the characters, they fit within existing high school stereotypes for the most part with popular jocks, mean cheerleaders, and clueless adults but the show does make some smart choices. For example, Jenna and her friends aren’t unpopular, which to me feels more real. In high school, everyone knows who the popular people are and there is always at least one complete loser, but the rest of us just float around somewhere in the middle. It’s refreshing to see characters that exist in a less rigid social structure. Also, the head cheerleader and resident mean girl isn’t a skinny blond but rather a brunette with a more healthy figure.
The one aspect of Awkward. that really irks me however is its dialogue and use of the voice over. Series like Veronica Mars and Scrubs pulled off the voice over quite well, but for most shows like Awkward. its either unnecessary or a little heavy-handed. An eye-roll can convey similar sentiments of displeasure without all the exposition. Its dialogue is equally forced sometimes. A wannabe Juno or Gilmore Girls – the writers are trying a little to hard to sound like “hip” teenagers. Whenever I hear one of their cringe-worthy catchphrases I can’t help but think, “Stop trying to make fetch happen”.