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TV Series Review

Awkward. It's not just the name of an MTV show: it's the only answer to the most boring Mad Libs puzzle ever.

"Jenna Hamilton, the main character in MTV's ____________, often feels ____________.

"Of course Jenna, being in high school, is bound to feel ____________. Every teen feels ____________, thanks to all those ____________ hormones. But Jenna's ____________ness is heightened by the fact that she is part of a show called ____________, wherein writers try to put ____________ Jenna and her ____________ friends, ____________ enemies and ____________ parents in the most ____________ situations imaginable, all to live up to the show's extraordinarily ____________ name. Indeed, this whole ____________ series feels ____________ from beginning to end.

"As does, unfortunately, this ____________ review."

Jenna is the show's undisputed queen of pubescent discomfort. From the very beginning, she's had a lot to feel, um, cumbersome about—from her first-episode accident that was misconstrued as a suicide attempt to the fact that she lost her virginity to hunky Matty at summer camp. After dating the dude for most of the first season, Jenna's moved on from Matty now—to his good friend Jake—but there's still no slackening of things to feel discomfited by. And if Jenna is miraculously feeling OK about herself and her environs for a moment, audiences can be sure that her misfit friends—chatterbox Tamara and wry Ming—will surely reel in enough, well, gaucheness to keep the title more than fitting.

I can tell you that there's more to MTV's Awkward., of course, while noting the bumbling little period at the end of the title. There's relational drama. Spiritual floundering. Angst. Oh, and sex—lots and lots of sex. Characters talk about if they've had it or whether they're going to have it or whether they should have it—sometimes in graphic terms. And certainly no regular character here would consider abstinence to be any sort of a spiritual commitment: Awkward. operates in a world free of purity rings. Drinking and drugs sometimes put in embarrassing appearances too.

This is MTV trying its level best to present a female version of its (now defunct) explicit, sexualized, angsty teen boy comedy The Hard Times of RJ Berger. In both series, shallow, sexualized, off-color storylines and characters are merely considered commonplace. Lisa Palmer of buddytv.com, as if to prove the point, talked with actress Ashley Rickards (Jenna), about how openly the series includes sex. Rickards blithely responded by saying that the show "wasn't breaking any new ground" and that the cast is "portraying things that happen all across America to teens everywhere."

More accurate, or at the very least more applicable here, is a comment made by MTV general manager Stephen Friedman about RJ Berger. He felt good about the fact that it "speaks to where we need to go as a network." Awkward. puts punctuation on his statement, both figuratively and literally.

The show can occasionally be funny, even poignant at times. Despite its one-note theme, it has its moments. The characters, stereotypical as they are, are sharply drawn and competently realized. But if Jenna walked up to me and said, "So, honestly, Do you think Awkward. is a good show? You know, for teens to watch?" I'd have to, not wanting to hurt her feelings too much, hem and haw and buy for time, pondering exactly how I'd tell her the honest, painful truth.

And that would be an, er, maladroit moment for both of us.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

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Pro-social Content

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Plot Summary

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Episode Reviews

Awkward: 7-26-2012
Awkward: 7-26-2011
Awkward: 7-19-2011



Readability Age Range


Comedy, Drama



Ashley Rickards as Jenna Hamilton; Beau Mirchoff as Matty McKibben; Nikki Deloach as Lacey Hamilton; Brett Davern as Jake Rosati; Molly Tarlov as Sadie Saxton; Desi Lydic as Valerie Marks; Jillian Rose Reed as Tamara; Jessica Lu as Ming Huang






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Year Published



Paul Asay Meredith Whitmore

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