High school is the caste system that prepares you for the rest of your life. Things haven’t changed much over the decades – there are still the popular kids, the jocks, the nerds, the outcasts.
High school is the caste system that prepares you for the rest of your life. Things haven’t changed much over the decades – there are still the popular kids, the jocks, the nerds, the outcasts. The cliques that form once preteens hit the hallowed halls of secondary education harden into rock solid forms, hard to break or transcend for the next four years. Like most caste systems, it’s a lot easier to travel down than up the ranks. Take pity on anyone who ends up on the bottom most circle of high school hell, for they will never know the joys of life at the top.
Most people find themselves firmly middle class, as high school associations go, and Jenna Hamilton is no exception. Jenna, played by Ashley Rickards is headed into her sophomore year of high school and wrapping up summer camp when we meet her. She’s crushed on Matty McKibben (Beau Mirchoff), a popular jock, all summer, and finally gets her fumbling few minutes of heaven with him in a broom closet. Ever the courteous gentleman, Matty lets Jenna know that he thinks she’s great, but no one can know that he likes her because of their star-crossed social circumstances. This is of course what every girl wants to hear moments after losing her virginity, and Jenna does what any teen girl would do in the situation – she writes about it on her anonymous blog, the modern equivalent to a locked diary.
Created by Lauren Iungerich, “Awkward.” is a humorous reflection of high school society and the “joys” of being a teenager. Jenna is the kind of girl who wants to blend into the crowd, but seems to be destined to stand out, for better or worse. When she receives an anonymous letter challenging her to step up and be noticed, Jenna takes notice, and starts to follow the advice she receives. Unlike MTV’s other teen shows “Teen Wolf” and “The Hard Times of RJ Berger,” both of which focus on male protagonists, Jenna’s challenges are less supernatural or sexy (Jenna’s first time is less than glamorous), and the show covers a wider variety of her teenage problems, not least of which is that her own mother is kind of a MILF who encourages Jenna to get a boob job in the second episode. Fortunately, Jenna is smart and savvy enough to not let most of the people and events in her life scar her.
You certainly don’t need to be a teenager to enjoy the show, and I saw a lot of myself in Jenna’s painfully awkward adolescence. You never want to relive those years, but a sightseeing trip back to the battlefield of high school can be instructive and satisfying. “Awkward.” is far from perfect, but it’s funny and is full of truth. MTV is making great strides in original programming, and if they can continue to present more voices like this to their audience, they may pose a real challenge to ABC Family and the CW in luring post-Disney Channel, Nickelodeon kids to their shows.
“Awkward.” premieres on MTV Tuesday July 19 at 11 PM Eastern/Pacific.