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"What Happened" To Awkward.?

Awkward. poster

Written by : published Thursday 31st October 2013

After a first episode back that was positively painful, more because of events in the episode rather than lack of quality, MTV's Awkward. recovers completely with "And Then What Happened." Jenna (Ashley Rickards) is isolated in her room, not talking, and friends and family try to figure out if she and Matty (Beau Mirchoff) have broken up or not. Each person only has one piece of the picture.

I liked this episode because of the lack of lots of Jenna and Matty, not in spite of it. They are at a really terrible place in their relationship, Jenna having cheated on him with Collin (Nolan Funk). Who wants to be around a warring couple who had lots of ugly things to discuss? It's a dark time for them, and Awkward. is not really a drama, for the most part, so it's gratifying that the episode skips right over it.

Instead, the meat of the half hour involves all of the supporting and recurring players humorously piecing together the events immediately falling last week's climax and trying to figure out the pair's status. This includes not only Tamara (Jillian Rose Reed), Ming (Jessica Lu), and Jake (Brett Davern), as one might expect, but also Fred (Kelly Sry), Lissa (Greer Grammer), Clark (Joseph Haro), and even eventually Sadie (Molly Tarlov).

Many of these characters do not often get enough screen time. Clark isn't even shown in the previous episode, though he is worked well enough into the tale after the fact. Making them the center, and showing how they interact as a group without the series' main leads, is as enjoyable as it is interesting. There's a great dynamic among the cast as a whole, and I hope we get the opportunity to see them play together more often.

As this unfolds, we also have Lacey (Nikki Deloach) and Valerie (Desi Lydic) on the phone fishing for info, too. I enjoy the kids on the show a lot, but these adults are equally good, and it's sweet to see the friendship that has developed between Val and Lacey over the first few seasons. They're their own clique, both similar and dissimilar to the students, wanting to be involved, but also a little bit off on their own, too. The parallel between them and the teens is well formed.

"And Then What Happened" is a light-hearted romp, gleefully told out of order in little bits. I'm not saying Awkward. can't get too heavy, but when it does, as it did in the mid-season premiere, that should be followed up with something like this, an episode that doesn't take itself too seriously. This helps maintain the overall flip tone and sunny mood.

One of the elements I most appreciate about Awkward. is its realism, and, admittedly, "And Then What Happened" is a lot less realistic than most. The way Val and her bat lines up with Lissa, who is then trampled and put back in a neck brace is hokey. As is Ming's fascination with guacamole at the wrong time. Yet, because of the timing of the program, I find myself reluctant to complain, left thoroughly satisfied by the way this plays out.

The episode ends with the dissolution of the Jenna / Matty pairing. Matty thinks he can move past her mistake, given time, but Jenna decides just to call it quits. While this does not completely line up with the rest of the episode's presentation, being much more depressing, it does fit because, after all the musing, it's time for some answers. It would have been rougher had Awkward. made its fans wait another week for resolution, so even the final scene feels right.

"And Then What Happened" doesn't necessarily fix all the mistakes of the previous week, and I feel like this half-season will be quite rocky, perhaps less happy than what came before. But as long as there are islands like this scattered through the churning sea, a place to relax and regroup, I think it will be viewed favorably overall.

Awkward. airs Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET on MTV.

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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