The time we’ve all feared arrives in episode three of Awkward.‘s second season: we hit saturation point on the whole Jenna (Ashley Rickards), Jake (Brett Davern) and Matty (Beau Mirchoff) love triangle. The result is not only not pretty, it’s not very funny.
Let’s bitch it out…Due to the nature of the content that Awkward. explores, it frequently walks a fine line between comedy, drama and melodrama. Sometimes that mixture works, and other times it doesn’t. Unfortunately for ‘Three’s A Crowd’ it falls into the latter category. The episode not only focuses far too much on Jenna’s continuing feelings for Matty, but it makes her apologize for something that is clearly not her fault.
I can appreciate that Jenna thinks that Matty might be home-wrecking her relationship because from everything that we see (and our point of view is aligned with Jenna), Matty is home wrecking! I mean the guy is taking off his shirt during video games and jumping in the hot tub with a newly formed couple. Come on! By episode’s end we know that Matty was – in fact – aiming to cause some relationship sabotage (and how funny is it that Molly Tarlov’s Sadie calls him out on it), but that doesn’t make it less frustrating that Jenna somehow gets talked into apologizing for being suspicious.
Aside from making a generally awesome character look foolish, ‘Three’s A Crowd’ suffers primarily because it is simply too much Jake vs Matty. The rivalry is good because both are viable love interests for Jenna for different reasons, but the show has never been simply about that. And for these last three episodes, the triangle has increasingly taken over the narrative to the point where even though other elements are in play, everything else feels dwarfed.
It doesn’t help that the other major storylines are over-the-top: Tamara’s (Jillian Rose Reed) continuing ridiculous obsession with all things Ricky Schwartz (Matthew Fahey) is more annoying than amusing, and the same can be said of Valerie’s (Desi Lydic) power-crazy / obvious bullying relationship with her replacement guidance counselor. Neither story is funny and both characters are too frantic to be put front and center. Together all three add up to a simultaneously frustrating and surprisingly un-funny episode.
- The one storyline with any weight involves Jenna’s dad, Kevin (Mike Faiola) moving out in the wake of Lacey’s (Nikki Deloach) revelation last week that she sent the letter. I can appreciate that they’re attempting to lend a certain gravity to how harmful the letter was – and once again Jenna’s denial of its impact is frustrating – but this reaction seems misdirected. Everything we know of Kevin suggests that he would talk this out, or even yell at his impulsive and juvenile wife. Simply leaving feels out of character and makes me wonder if it’s not just a way to get Faiola off-set for a few episodes in order to save money
- A few recurring jokes that do work: the hot tub antics, including Kevin peeing to scare away the boys*, and the red letter B for those who bully. Naturally half the fun of this poorly executed B-plot riffing on both the increased visibility of bullying is charting how many ‘B’s Sadie has collected by the end of the episode (4 if you’re counting)
- *Another element that doesn’t quite work: Kevin’s 180 flip on Jenna having her boyfriend over, half naked in the hot tub. This from the father that two episodes gave her a giant box of condoms? I guess we can just chalk it up to being distraught about his rapidly deteriorating marriage?
- Although very little of ‘Three’s A Crowd’ worked for me, I did enjoy the end when Lacey and Jenna both walk the anti-bully 5K. I still don’t buy that Jenna has forgiven her mother for the care-frontation letter, but I do like them together. Lacey is more or less still a teenager and she continues to make poor choices, so her ability to relate to her daughter makes perfect sense
- Tamara (confronting a boy staring at her unitard): “Yeah, I’ve got cameltoe. Soak it up!”
- Sadie: “Looks like your unitard is already doing the job”
- Random Girl (a direct address about why girls like Ricky Schwartz): “Ricky Schwartz said I look good with bangs…I don’t”
What do you think, Awkward. fans? Do you agree that this episode is a miss? Do you want less love triangle now? Less Tamara? Less Val? More Ming? Talk it out below
Awkward. airs Thursdays at 10:30pm EST on MTV