“I am an a-hole, a cheater, and a liar. And everyone hates me.” Within the first two minutes, Jenna sums up her situation pretty clearly. She, a character who held viewer’s sympathy for years, has become everything she never was. Anybody who has been watching and enjoying Awkward for this long is going to take a side and perhaps feel disappointed and as upset with Jenna’s actions as she is with herself. So it was smart for the show to spend more time with the side characters digesting what happened than to stick with Jenna and/or Matty as they wallow in self pity.
The storytelling device of different perspectives intersecting as the characters explain what they saw was very effective. Usually the rule of writing is “show, don’t tell,” but in this case the telling was far more useful than if they simply showed what happened, when it happened, and in chronological order. This way there was a bit of mystery mixed with humor. The episode could have been filled with tension and secondhand embarrassment, but that’s never been this show’s M.O. When Ming, Jake, Tamara, Fred Wu, Clark, Sadie, and Lissa tell the viewers and each other what happened, the telling is tinged with their personal brand of humor and individuality.
Of course, Tamara started her story by talking about her massive wedgy. Of course, Jake would spend way too much time worrying about whether Mrs. Hamilton really makes her guacamole. Of course, Sadie would see her crying friend hurt over betrayal and see it as seething anger. The storytelling made the episode far funnier than it possibly could have been with following the main players of the events of Jenna’s birthday party and the ensuing fight.
It’s fitting that the episode ended and began with Jenna. She begins the episode, hiding in her closet and hoping to get a moment to talk to Matty. The episode ends with her and Matty in the car together. It would have been far too easy for Matty to end it right there, effectively making Jenna’s decision for her. By dumping her callously, Matty could have hurt Jenna right back. But the show wisely didn’t go that route. Instead Matty, somewhat devastatingly, decides that he’d be okay with sticking with her, trying to get past what happened.
If Jenna had taken him up on that, she could have begun to rid herself of her guilt and taken the easy route back in with her friends and regular life. However, Jenna is smarter than that. She knows that Matty might forever look at her like a cheater, even if he never said it. Maybe he’d be able to get over it, but Jenna would never truly know if he really did forgive her.
It’s a move by Jenna that makes me believe that the emotionally intelligent character from the first two seasons still exists. She might not be back on track to being likeable, but at least she still shows potential.
- Somebody gave Jenna a cheesy shirt with a picture of her and Matty on it. It’s never revealed whose gift it was, but if Matty made that shirt maybe she’s right to dump him.
- “Break down the door.” “I thought about it… but I just painted the hall.” Val and Jenna’s mom are a good combination.
- Ming and Jake is a great combo we never see. I don’t think they’ve ever had scenes one on one before, but Jake has dated both Ming’s best friends so they definitely should.
- Fred was filled with great lines tonight. “Mayhem isn’t my middle name. It’s Chen.”
- Clark: “Ooooooh Who’s a racist?” Everyone: “Valerie!” Clark: “Tell me something I don’t know.” Fred: “I’m about to!”
- Val really was extra racist tonight. If it wasn’t bad enough that she was talking about Fred obviously being good at math because he’s Asian, she also said “your people built the railroads.”
- Tamara: “How to not know your right from your left?!” Fred: “I’m not good under pressure and I’m moderately dyslexic!”