Here’s an excerpt from my notes for this episode: “Emotional trap.” “Emasculation.” “Bad Mama Jamma.” “Dazzle the crowd.” “OH MY GOD NO.”
Can you guess what the profane tirade concerns?
Let’s bitch it out…
Well…we all knew this was coming, didn’t we? I’m unsure whether we should applaud Awkward. for taking this long to have Collin (Nolan Funk) become a credible threat to Jenna (Ashley Rickards) and Matty’s (Beau Mirchoff) relationship or condemn the writers for being so. freaking. predictable.
I mean, we all anticipated this, right? Despite the fact that Collin has a girlfriend (remember Anjelique – she’s actually quite nice and a lot of fun!), since the moment Collin showed up in 3×01 ‘Cha-Cha-Changes’, it was clear that he’s the S3 grenade: launched into the show to cause destruction and chaos. Now that this storyline is in play, all that’s left to see is how the pieces scatter once the dust clears. My hope is that this moment of uncertainty on Jenna’s behalf will be another opportunity for the show to explore how much work it is to maintain a functional relationship (in high school, no less!) I definitely don’t think that this is the end of the line for Jenna and Matt, but it’s likely that the going will get rough for the next little while.
It’s especially frustrating that this (predictable) turn of events comes after what was shaping up to be one of the best episodes of the current season. Take, for example, the opening sequence with the boys on the soccer field and their female fan club harkens back to Jenna’s insecurities in 1×06 ‘That Girl Strikes Again’ and helps to distinguish her relationship from Tamara (Jillian Rose-Reed) and Jake’s (Brett Davern). It’s true that Jenna and Matty have “evolved” into a stronger, more committed couple and the trust issues that have been holding Jenna back in previous seasons now seems peripheral. This is a good sign because – despite my griping about the Collin stuff – ‘Rubbed Raw And Reeling’ demonstrates how well these last few episodes have been plotted. Even if I haven’t enjoyed every creative decision that’s been made, there’s a clear narrative thread bringing everything together.
- Up until Jenna and Collin’s revelation, ‘Rubbed Raw And Reeling’ nails just about everything. The series’ trademark match-on action is on full display as nearly every transition is either visually or orally prefaced. It’s little touches like this that really help to elevate the show above its less polished teen counterparts
- Matty and Jake’s escalating series of challenges is gross and funny. All of the Bro-B-Q scenes nail the desperate bravado of a couple of high school boys who feel the need to reassert their masculinity after realizing just how co-dependent they are on their girlfriends. Which was funnier: Matty pawing at the air after eating the whole onion or Jake almost vomiting after sucking back a bottle of hot sauce?
- Desi Lydic and Molly Tarlov have just enough airtime to drop their trademark brands of crazy (Valerie) and shade (Sadie). Valerie’s contribution works better for me. From the bongo accessories to the pre-prepared dance outfit to the TLC references, the Valerie scenes balance just the right amount of delightf kookiness without venturing into caricature. Sadie, on the other hand, reverts back to her S1 mean girl persona when she calls Jenna a whore. Although the salty sailor language is expected, this insult feels particularly rude given that we’ve earlier learned that Jenna and Matty are nearing their sixth month anniversary
- I really like how Nikki Deloach’s Lacey immediately picks up on the sexual tension between Jenna and Collin. The relationship between mother and daughter has always been one of the series’ strong points, so it’s nice to know that if Jenna is going down the Collin rabbit hole (not a euphemism!), at least Lacey will be there to assist her
- Finally, it’s only natural that as Jenna’s romantic life is about to fall apart, her “professional” life as a writer in Mr. Hart’s (Anthony Michael Hall) class comes together. After reading her risqué virginity-losing blog post from the pilot, Jenna proves she has the vulnerability and the chops to win over the tough crowd at Bean There, Done That café…and her belligerent writing teacher. Here’s hoping that now that Mr. Hart is in her corner, Jenna’s creative abilities can really take off
- Mr. Hall (talking about the class’ writing abilities): “This is the pre-ejaculation of your lives.”
- Valerie (taking Mr. Hall’s side against Jenna): “Well if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s probably a pussy”
- Valerie (dancing at open mic night): “Watch out – you might get a little drizzle from my sizzle” So wrong in all the right ways.
Your turn: are you disappointed that Awkward. has gone where we’d hoped it wouldn’t? Do you think we’re headed into full-on relationship break-up or will this strengthen Matty and Jenna? Do you think Lacey will play an integral role in guiding Jenna through this? And what was the funniest thing Jake and Matty went through? Comment away below
Awkward. airs Tuesdays at 10pm EST on MTV