Freaks and Geeks set the gold standard for showing the awkwardness of high school life on television. Awkward, MTV’s newest scripted comedy premiering Tuesday at 11pm, may not be as universally brilliant, but it’s as close as any show has come to matching the uncomfortable anguish of high school.
The show stars Ashley Rickards (Brooke’s troubled foster child from One Tree Hill) as Jenna, an awkward teen who loses her virginity at summer camp to the boy of her dreams, Matty McKibben. While she’s in love, he has no interest in talking to her outside of the janitor’s closet, and through a series of unfortunate events, Jenna winds up with a broken arm on her bathroom floor where pills are scattered and a hair dryer is in the bathtub, leading everyone to assume she tried to kill herself.
That’s right, Awkward is a fake suicide comedy, which is wonderfully quirky. After all, being in high school makes you want to die, just not literally. Awkward then follows a path similar to the movie Easy A as Jenna embraces her new status as “That Girl” and battles the harsh terrain of high school. There’s even a painfully out-of-touch guidance counselor to show just how alienating it is to be a teenager.
One of the things that distinguishes Awkward, however, is the show’s “villain,” Sadie. Sure, she’s a mean, rich, popular cheerleader, but she’s also overweight, and without her family’s money, she would easily get teased every bit as much as Jenna. The character is rather one-dimensional to start with, but it’s easy to see the potential for how Sadie might break the mold. It’s nice to see something other than the perfect, skinny blonde girl as the mean one.
Just like Easy A, Mean Girls or other strong, female-centric teen comedies, Awkward has a quick wit and a very distinct vision of the world. It’s the perfect blend of comedy and painful teenage awkwardness, and in the end, the title says it all.
The result is one of the most enjoyable and earnest teen comedies TV has produced, and combined with Teen Wolf, it shows that MTV has finally figured out how to successfully do scripted programming. If the network continues to create shows like these instead of more reality franchises about pregnant teens, I’m fine with the lack of music videos.
(Image courtesy of MTV)