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Ending Far From AWKWARD.

Awkward. poster

Written by : published Thursday 19th December 2013

MTV's Awkward. has easily been, hands down, the best series the network has ever produced. This week, the third season ends with "Who I Want to Be," which also marks the last episode helmed by creator Lauren Iungerich. The hour-long installment, double the length of the typical episode (as was last week's penultimate), fittingly brings central character Jenna (Ashley Rickards), and others, full circle. It could easily have served as a series finale - though Awkward. will continue on with a new showrunner next year.

Awkward. begins with a letter. Jenna's mother, Lacey (Nikki Deloach), anonymously sends her daughter a list of things to change about herself. The author is the mystery of season one, and Jenna is quite effected by the words. When it comes out that Lacey is responsible, it almost ruins Jenna's parents' marriage, and fractures the relationship between mother and daughter.

The story has moved past that, but it's appropriate to bring it up again now. Jenna has undergone quite a few changes this year, going through a phase where she cheated on her boyfriend and fell out with her besties. In "Who I Want to Be," she has mostly succeeded in rebuilding what she destroyed and is trying to figure out the type of person she should be going forward. This letter is part of her growth, a catalyst really, and she considers it along with her answer, as she should.

Lacey finds Jenna reading the letter and the two have a moving heart-to-heart. They've suffered tribulations together and come out the other side stronger than ever, both individually and as a pair. It's a reflective scene which really tells us who the women are, how far they've come and what they mean to one another. Both actresses do a terrific job with this emotional stuff, and many viewers will likely be moved to tears by the result. I dare say this may be my favorite moment of the year, if not the show as a whole.

Jenna's introspection comes because of an assignment from Mr. Hart (Anthony Michael Hall). Although the teacher seems grumpy and abrasive, if not downright cruel, at the start, there's something really cool about the way he and Jenna connect, and how he pushes Jenna to do her best work. She has talent in the field of writing, and he knows how to manipulate her to bring out the best. That, combined with the experiences Jenna has had, allow her to figure out both what to put and how to act. I hope this dynamic continues, as Jenna still could take things much further.

A lot of Awkward. has concerned Jenna and boys, which is expected for a story about a teenage girl. First she was with Matty (Beau Mirchoff), then Jake (Brett Davern), then back with Matty, then Collin (Nolan Funk), the latter being a physical attraction only. And part of "Who I Want to Be" does find Jenna pining over Matty, who she has not gotten over. She wants him to ask her to prom and he doesn't.

But that's not all Jenna is. Some girls may pin themselves to a guy, however, there is more to Jenna. She gets to tell Collin off in a triumphant moment. She tells Matty the door is still open for him, but she also knows she's survive, even thrive, if he never comes back to her. Then, even better, she dances by herself at the prom, happy and confident, not needing anyone else. This doesn't mean she's lonely; in fact, she's never been more solid with her loved ones. It just shows that she's a full individual who has accepted herself and is ready to move on to the next chapter of her life, whatever that may be.

Jenna isn't the only one who's blossomed. Ming (Jessica Lu) has found her confidence and her place. Tamara (Jillian Rose Reed) and Jake have bliss. Lacey regrets mistakes she's made because she's learned not to make them again. Matty is able to heal and enjoy himself with Bailey (McKaley Miller), a worthy date. Even Sadie (Molly Tarlov) has to smile, in love with a boy named Austin (Shane Harper), who gets her in a way no one else ever has.

"Who I Want to Be" is mostly about Jenna, though, as it should be. She's the heart of the show and the reason why we tune in. There's only been one brief period I didn't like her and had trouble relating (during this year's destructive phase), but the finale of this season makes that other stuff worth it. A person is not created already fully-formed, and over three glorious seasons, we've witnessed the evolution of Jenna. Beautiful.

Awkward. will return for a fourth season sometime in 2014 on MTV.

About the author 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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