Title: Awkward S1
Released: 2011
Series:  Awkward

Platform: Paramount+

So I realize that FYA is not known for our refined taste in television. I mean, we review shows featuring high school werewolves and girls with cat powers and vampires and if I knew what exactly Pretty Little Liars was actually about, I’d list it here. We’re suckers for teen TV, and we’re not embarrassed about it, because shame is the cardinal sin of YAngelism.

But sometimes, you guys, we actually watch a show that’s good. I know, crazy! And when that happens, I have to tell you about it! Because I need someone else to watch it so we can convo! And since you probably won’t believe me, because it’s a show on MTV and–I KNOW, I know, spare me the “what does the M stand for?” jokes–I decided to do a little scientific analysis to prove my point.

The show I’m talking about is Awkward. The first time I saw it, I was at the gym, so I only watched about five minutes before turning back to a rerun of Supernatural, which should really be called Dean Winchester Is a God. (What? I already warned you about my taste.) My first impression of Awkward was that it was, well, awkward, and the love interest was FUGLY.

But then a commercial came on after Dean made a totally witty pop culture reference, and I flipped back to Awkward, only to find myself drawn more and more into the story. And three episodes later, I’m hooked!


1. Ashley Rickards as Jenna Hamilton

A pretty white brunette girl with a very awkward expression on her face

Ashley was perfectly cast to play Jenna, the lead character. Jenna isn’t popular, but she isn’t a huge nerd. She’s pretty, but she’s not really hot. She’s witty, but she doesn’t talk like a Gilmore Girl. In other words, she’s… ordinary. And she’s believably ordinary, with a bit of charm and a splash of sass. Unlike a lot of YA heroines on TV or in movies, she actually has a pretty good amount of self-esteem, but she still acts like a total weirdo around her crush, because, well, that’s what hormones will do to you. I don’t always agree with her decisions, but I find myself rooting for her all the same, because she is most definitely an underdog. And I’m a sucker for underdogs, y’all.

2. Realism

Ok, I’m not talking My So-Called Life level angst, or the sweeping drama of Friday Night Lights. I mean, come on, guys, this is still a show on MTV. BUT! The situations feel pretty authentic, and the casting itself isn’t super Hollywood!

A tall white dude with brown hair and a goofy expression

I mean, look at that guy right there. He plays Matty, and he’s the hottest guy in school. THAT DOOFUS is the hottest guy in school. How much more legit can you get? I mean, in spite of what I pretend in my mind when I’m reading a YA book, most high school boys are… gross. And Matty is definitely gross. But Jenna still likes him! Because that’s how high school works! I mean, when you were 17, did you have to choose between a handsome sparkly guy and a cut dude in jorts? NO! BECAUSE YOU GREW UP IN REALITY! And that’s where this show (mostly) lives.

3. High School Clichés Done Right

I love me some high school clichés, which is why I enjoy movies that handle them poorly (She’s All That) as well as movies that handle them expertly (Mean Girls). This show isn’t quite up to the Regina George level, but it’s putting a nice spin on the following teen standards:

  • Mean Girls: The main Mean Girl is Sadie, a cheerleader who is slightly overweight. The actress is kind of a weak link, but the character herself is a nice twist on the usual Barbie-style prom queen.

  • Bumbling Parents: Jenna’s parents had her right out of high school, so they’re young. Thus far, her dad seems cool, and her mom is a mix of sweetness & Mrs. George. WIN.

  • High School Counselor: She’s no Jeff Rosso, and she’s not even close to the perfection of Ms. Perky, but Valerie, the counselor assigned to Jenna after an accident that was mistaken for a suicide attempt, is awesomely unhinged and completely ineffectual.

  • Love Triangle: This storyline has only just begun, but I can already tell that I’m going to enjoy it. Especially because the other guy, Jake, has a much better personality, but he’s not hot. That’s right, cos this show keeps it real!

And, I’m not sure if it’s a purposeful nod to My So-Called Life, but this show even has a Tino! He’s not named Tino, but he’s constantly referred to and never around. Just like Tino!

4. Humor

This show is funny, you guys! And, in my opinion, the humor improves with each episode. Lissa the cheerleader’s “purity cheers” during episode 3 were particularly amazing.

5. Tamara

A hyper-looking white girl with auburn hair

And finally, we’ve come to the main reason that I watch Awkward. And that reason is named Tamara. Tamara is Jenna’s bestie, and she’s batt shizznat (as they like to say on the show) insane. She’s a good friend to Jenna, but she’s also hyper and super weird and status-hungry and gets to say ALL of the best lines on the show. Seriously, she’s a one woman lingo-producing machine. I’ve already started saying “TIA!” (This Is Awkward) and I have a feeling that my vocabulary will only decline improve with each episode.

And with that, I rest my case. Sure, we’re only three eps into the season, and it may start to suck and I’ll totally regret writing this post and may even consider deleting it, BUT I have high hopes for this show. So check it out tonight or watch it online, and let me know what you think! Like I said, it’s not Emmy award-winning television, but it sure beats the shizz out of Teen Wolf. (Sorry, Meghan).

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.