Ah the sweetness of summer is definitely upon us. My #4 favourite show of last year (the only comedy on the list, FYI) has returned with fresh episodes. And what’s that sound, you ask? Why it’s cheerleading beyotch Sadie (Molly Tarlov) celebrating our return with a dismissively condescending “You’re welcome.”
Oh, Awkward., I’ve missed you so much.
Let’s bitch it out…
In terms of hitting the reboot button for new viewers, ‘Resolutions’ may have been a bit tricky to follow for those who haven’t watched S1. The love triangle at the center of the episode between Jenna (Ashley Rickards), Matty (Beau Mirchoff) and Jake (Brett Davern) is fairly easy to follow, though elements such as why Lissa (Greer Grammer) and Sadie are fighting, the contents (and impact) of the “carefrontation” letter and even small bits like Valerie’s (Desi Lydic) dating woes are likely lost on the unfamiliar.
In terms of delivering an episode that appeases fans of the show, however, the second season premiere does nearly everything right. The witty wordplay from season one remains prominently on display (in diverse ways such as the amusingly cringe-inducing rhyming pieces from Jenna’s blog and the running “lost cat” gag). The show’s visual flourishes, such as the confessional New Year’s resolution sequence, although less obvious, continue to produce a youthful energy and flair.
At the center of all this is Rickards’ self-assured performance as Jenna Hamilton. One of my favourite components of the show is that Jenna is often an emotional mess – confused, frustrated, protective and sarcastic – but she has core foundational elements in her life that she won’t compromise. That’s why this season will be a challenge for her, because she’s dealing with the fall-out of two big relationship game changers: 1) her (continuing) conflicted feelings for both Jake and Matty and 2) her compromised relationship with her mother, Lacey (Nikki Deloach).
By the end of the hour, Jenna’s made small steps towards resolving both. She DTRs with Jake (both online and in public at the New Year’s party), and she bombs her mother with her own version of the carefrontation letter, replicating the cutesy message from the Christmas card Lacey gives her earlier in the episode. Interestingly she chooses a passive aggressive method with her mother in the episode’s final moments, which on one hand is apropos (given that Lacey anonymously sent her the carefrontation letter) and simultaneously suggests that Jenna’s not quite ready to deal with the situation (reinforcing the avoidance strategy she’s employed successfully throughout the last two weeks). It’s doubtful that Jenna will hate her mom indefinitely, but for the time being they’re sure to be on rocky ground.
- With so much focus on the love triangle, there’s not much room for other storylines, though we do touch base with all of the other supporting players in some capacity. Surprisingly prominent is Lissa, who not only steals the show will all the best lines, but appears to have wriggled out from under Sadie’s control. I’d forgotten just how (hilariously) dumb Lissa is, but I am glad to see more of Grammer and hope the show continues to grow her now that she’s single and essentially friendless
- Big moments for Sadie as she not only confesses her longstanding feelings for Matty, but gets to first base (or is taking you top off considered “short stop”?). I will freely admit that Tarlov’s line readings slay me, and tonight is no different. One of my favourite Sadie moments, however, isn’t dialogue-related, but rather a quick cut of her standing by herself, licking an appetizer at the party (presumably she’s still dieting to appease her mother)
- Less interesting are Ming (Jessica Lu) and Tamara (Jillian Rose Reed), who have remained static since the show’s debut last summer. I’m relieved to read that Ming will have a greater role to play with the introduction of an Asian mafia in upcoming episodes. I’m less enthused to see the return of Tamara’s love-hate relationship with Ricky Schwartz (Matthew Fahey). In fact, it mostly fills me with dread. How many times in 13 episodes have we seen these two hook-up and then break-up? I don’t understand why the show keeps returning to this narrative dead end
- Finally, we learn that Jenna’s blog has an anonymous reader. That’s clearly the new “twist” for season two (ala who sent the carefrontation letter in S1), but more importantly outstanding issues about the blog are finally addressed! During the first season, I often wondered why Jenna revealed so much personal information on her blog (including everyone‘s names) since it’s in the public domain. It makes so much sense now that we know that Jenna never advertised it! Even though it was publicly available (clearly since there is this new reader), Jenna assumed she was writing solely for Ming, Tamara and herself. Good to know (and good on the show for clarifying that nagging plot point)
- Lissa: “By the way you look skinny.” Sadie (indignant): “That’s something a friend would say, bitch!”
- Lissa (searching under a table with Jenna): “Is there a kitty? I love cats”
- Lissa (upon hearing Tamara slap Ricky): “I didn’t even feel it!”
- Jenna (seeing cat supplies in the guidance counselor’s backseat): “Val, the cat’s imaginary.” Valerie (crying): “So’s my relationship.”
- Sadie (upon seeing Matty’s chest): “Oh my god.”
- Sadie (seconds later when she sees Matty has fallen asleep during their make-out session): “Oh my god.”
How are you feeling about Awkward.‘s return: better than ever? Were you surprised that Sadie confessed her crush to Matty and they made out? How do you think Lacey will react to Jenna’s letter? Are you happy to see the return of the Ricky/Tamara relationship? And are you Team Matty or Team Jake (for the record I’m Jake all the way – like Matty, but he’s douchey and juvenile, whereas Jake is genuine). Sound off below!
Awkward. airs Thursdays at 10:30pm EST on MTV
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