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Awkward. puts the right shoe on the wrong foot

Awkward. poster

Written by : published Sunday 23rd September 2012

MTV's Awkward. completes its sophomore season with two important decisions for Jenna (Ashley Rickards) in "The Other Shoe." The first, which guy she should be with, is one that is sure to be debated by fans and revisited by the writers in later seasons. The second, whether she should go to Europe, or stay home with that guy that she picked, has a much more clear cut answer. Despite how romantic it might be to stay, she should definitely go.

Alas, Jenna is a teenage girl completely smitten, so of course she chooses the boy over the trip. It is an understandable choice for a girl in her position, even though those with age and wisdom will deeply regret her missing such an amazing opportunity. At this point in Jenna's life, that love is more important.

It's not like Matty (Beau Mirchoff) gives her much reason to go. Yes, he does tell her that she should take the trip, and says he is supportive. But what I think that Jenna is looking for to be able to comfortably leave is a declaration of strong feelings about being missed. That would be out of character for Matty, and when he doesn't exhibit such a display, one can see Jenna's doubt begin to creep in about the state of their pairing if she were to leave for six weeks. This likely influences her decision.

The brilliance of Awkward. is in the development of the characters, both from the writing and the acting. This whole situation is presented so clearly and realistically. Jenna and Matty act like teenagers. That may seem a simple formula to make a series work, but looking across the wide spectrum of teens represented on TV, it quickly becomes apparent that few shows truly "get" this age group of humans, so unique in their motivations and feelings. Series creater Lauren Iungerich is the terrific exception.

Look at where Jenna is in "The Other Shoe." At the beginning of the series, she is a shy dork who really wants to be noticed. Now, two seasons later, she has grown so darn much. Having the guy of her dreams, and being presented with a free trip to Europe, well, this is the kind of conundrum that most only dream of. Many people would happily take one or the other. To have the choice of both at once, talk about First World Problems! And good for Jenna, who is a good person who deserves happiness.

Interestingly, the Big Secret of season two (who comments on Jenna's blog) is resolved with much less weight than it's counterpart from season (the letter). While Clark (Joseph Haro) has been around for awhile, he's not been a big, noticeable player. Hopefully, he will be more so, going forward, as another friend for Jenna to lean on.

The reveal that Ricky Schwartz (Matthew Fahey) is making out with Clark in the closet is arguably a bigger twist then the blog commenter. At first, it goes against what we know about Ricky, given his ill treatment of the many ladies he has supposedly been with. But there are a couple of easily explainable reasons he might be in that (wonderfully literal and figurative at the same time) closet. One, touched on in the episode, is that he is just such a horndog that he will make out with anyone. Or, perhaps he bounces between girls because he just isn't finding what he wants, and Clark can help him with that. Either possibility is intriguing, and hopefully his character will be fleshed out a bit more next year, too.

What sucks about the Ricky thing is that Sadie (Molly Tarlov) does not need any more scarring. True, she is not a nice person, so it's hard to root for her. But finding out a guy she genuinely likes bats for the other team, or is at least open to it, is going to hurt her deeply, which will only make her more mean. Like most bullies, Sadie's anger comes from a place of pain. Season two hasn't been as sympathetic to her as the first year, but I still want to see her grow into a decent person by the end of Awkward. This kind of thing is a major step back on that journey. Although, without adversity, the prize wouldn't be earned.

At first, it's very hard to believe that Jake (Brett Davern) and Tamara (Jillian Rose Reed) find each other in "The Other Shoe." Their pairing is spoken of as a possibility earlier, and then quickly dismissed. But the natural way that it unfolds, and the emotional state of both characters, makes it feel right. For now. I don't see it lasting, but they could definitely be good for each other in the short term, as they are sweethearts who have been burned by the less considerate. Yay for them!

Ming (Jessica Lu) is often shoved to the background, but her character has steadily gained a little more traction in season two. Having her moment with crush Fred Wu (Kelly Sry) at the party acknowledges that she is part of core cast, and hopefully there will be even more for her next season.

Lastly, the scene where Valerie (Desi Lydic) gathers Jenna, Kevin (Mike Faiola), and Lacey (Nikki Deloach) in her office is priceless! Valerie seems to be mostly present as comic relief, but there should be no complaint about that when she is used to such beautiful effect. It's a small bit of the episode, but a memorable one, thanks in no small part to Lydic's formidable comedy chops. She has taken a character who could easily slip into an annoying superfluous part of Awkward. and made her a frequent delight and valuable member of the ensemble. Bravo!

Awkward. has been renewed for a third season and will return next year to MTV.

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About the author JeromeWetzelTV

JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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