Awkward.‘s super-sized third season delivers the series’ first supersized episode in the form of ‘Karmic Relief’, an hour of wit and cat iconography that’s ultimately overshadowed by a hugely predictable non-twist ending.
Let’s bitch it out…
I’ll admit that I’m likely not the prime demographic for MTV’s Awkward. so I occasionally need to reorient my perspective when I watch the show. I don’t think I need to be a teenage girl to anticipate the outcome of the final scene of ‘Karmic Reflief’, though. Unsurprisingly Matty (Beau Mirchoff) confirms that he plans to ask Bailey (McKaley Miller) to prom and not Jenna (Ashley Rickards). Not only have the two been making cutesy/flirty eyes with each other last episode, but the whole premise of the series is that unexpectedly awful shit always happens to Jenna. Naturally she would think that the universe is throwing her some good-will for her 180 following a brief sojourn into uber-bitch territory, but lo and behold, she’s destined for yet more Matty-related relationship drama. It simply wouldn’t be Awkward. if these two got their shit together.
There are two reasons I’m annoyed enough to begin a review outlining my displeasure with this development: 1) It’s so clearly foreshadowed that I can’t imagine anyone not figuring it out and 2) the rest of the episode is pretty darn awesome (Side Note: If you said “because you’re a bitch”, that is also a perfectly acceptable option).
As the first hour-long episode, ‘Karmic Relief’ allows Awkward. a great opportunity to stretch its wings, which is good because between the Matty/prom stuff, the Ming (Jessica Lu)/Asian Mafia stuff and the Valerie (Desi Lydic) make-up, there’s a lot going on.
The Matty stuff is easily the most superfluous, although I’m sure shippers have a greater interest in it than me (at this point I think Jenna needs some alone time to consider who she is and what she wants). The sudden onslaught of prom is always an occasion to dig into the social hierarchy of high school (who’s taking who, who will inevitably have their heart broken). This also ensures our small weekly dose of Tamara (Jillian Rose-Reed) – remember smaller is better – and also allows the evolution of Jenna’s friendship with Bailey, which is the closest thing to a realistic female friendship the show has ever had.
The least realistic element of the series has long been the ridiculous Asian Mafia storyline and I say this as someone who has actually enjoyed most of it. Like much of Awkward. it’s no surprise to learn that Ming would eventually abuse her authority, though I doubt many of us expected closure in the form of an amusingly executed coup d’etat. It turns out that Becca (Jessika Van) has returned from exile to reclaim her authority…and Fred Wu (Kelly Sry). Ultimately the clandestine meeting between the rivals ends in a detente as Becca walks away with the power and Ming gets the boy, which is likely the best possible outcome she could have hoped for. While I will miss the absurdity of seeing Ming make ridiculous demands that are immediately fulfilled, I would much rather explore what happens now that she and Fred have a normal relationship without the high drama.
The final aspect of ‘Karmic Relief’ concerns the lone remaining piece of fall-out from the Dark Jenna days: Valerie. The opening, in which Val is revealed to be stuffing her face while working at a liquor store sets the stage for a series of hilariously painful sequences depicting just how low the former guidance counselor has fallen. (Side Note: telling Jenna to f*ck off does feel about right). Love, love, love the crazy cat lady vibe in Valerie’s never-before-seen home, which carries more than a whiff of defeat with the inclusion of a questionable looking boarder who Val, Jenna and Lacey (Nikki Deloach) agree is probably a serial killer. In comparison, the hearing that resolves this patchy stage in Jenna and Val’s relationship is a little underwhelming; Sadie’s (Molly Tarlov) last minute testimony is barely coherent and seems incredibly similar to the charges leveled against Val that got her fired.
As it stands, Val is reinstated (apparently Sadie’s third person “baby” testimony is more compelling to the panel) and Val and Jenna hug it out. Admittedly I would have liked to have seen a little bit more of a rocky road to reunion, but with only one episode left in the season which is presumably earmarked for Matty/Jenna/Bailey issues, this lingering element had to be wrapped up. And so the Dark Jenna passage comes to a close. All that remains is prom!
- Accordingly to Nikki Deloach’s tweets, Mama Hamilton is preggers in real life. Who knew?! She’s definitely not Kerry Washington-sized yet, which is my current pregnancy barometer on TV
- Ming’s changeroom meeting is a bizarre detour, though I do love the panning camera revealing the empty rooms as she walks by
- Anyone else groan when the zipper on Jenna’s prom dress gets stuck? Cliche alert! Why does she use a sweatshirt (and a bar mitzvah) to cover it up? Wouldn’t, say, a bathrobe make more sense?
- Matty’s fake ID name is Van Hutcherson. Bailey is right: the name alone guarantees getting buisted
- “Save Vag” – I’m not even sure how such an egregious printing error could be made, but it definitely makes for a snicker worthy sight-gag
- If you ever wanted to know: a job at the liquor store gets you 45% off expired liquor. I imagine the flak jacket is likely just Val being cautious; it’s probably not part of the uniform
What are your thoughts on this hour long edition of Awkward.? Was there any doubt that Val wouldn’t get her job back? Was anyone actually surprised that Matty wants to go to prom with Bailey? What was the funniest sight gag? Are you happy to see the Asian Mafia storyline come to a close? And should Lacey get a job as a TV lawyer, Real Housewife, figure skater or Project Runway contestant? Sound off below
Awkward. airs its season finale next Tuesday at 10:30pm EST on MTV