Awkward. review – 2×05: ‘My Love Is A Black Heart’

Courtesy of MTV

Let the ex-games begin! As Valentine’s Day rolls around, both Jenna (Ashley Rickards) and Tamara (Jillian Rose Reed) ponder their status in the hearts of their former lovers. After a frustrating episode last week, can the love holiday rescue everyone’s favourite sarcastic high schooler?

Let’s bitch it out…It’s either Spring Break (Teen Wolf) or Valentine’s Day at MTV this week, making me wonder exactly which lunar cycle these people are operating on. Either way, VD is little more than an excuse to break out the comedic tropes of miscommunication as Jenna unwittingly propels Matty (Beau Mirchoff) straight into her romantic plans with Jake (Brett Davern). It’s clear that Matty isn’t asking Jenna about her romantic preferences right from the get-go: last week they clarified that they’re friends and Jenna bitched him out about affecting her relationship with Jake in 2×03 ‘Three’s A Crowd’. For this reason the early parts of the episode are frustratingly obvious and – once again – make Jenna seem less intelligent than we know her to be.

The resulting ‘awkward’ situation is that – naturally – Jenna and Jake end up seated right next to Matty and his freshman date, Courtney (Laura Ashley Samuels). It’s obvious and forced (how likely is it that Matty would get a table at the sold-out restaurant the day of?), but strangely it all works. Or at least as soon as Awkward. has finished working out the silly conventions out of its system (shock at the discovery, head bumps on the table, pulling the tables together, etc). Luckily things are righted once Jenna bumps her head a second time (!) and we figure out what’s truly going on: Jenna is deluded.

Courtesy of MTV

Let me explain. As much as I enjoy Rickards’ performance, Jenna has become more cumbersome as a character this season. Although she’s always been interested in herself (her blog is an introspective, reflective diary, but it’s also all about her), it seems like Jenna has become a great deal more narcissistic in S2. It’s almost as though being in a relationship (out in the open) has convinced her that she’s the center of everyone’s world. And that’s what she reveals in her voice over when Matty ices her bruised head at the restaurant: Jenna never considers that Matty is no longer in love with her.

It’s moments like this that reminds us that Jenna is young. She may not be a virgin, but she’s relatively inexperienced in the way that love and relationships work. It never occurs to her that Matty asked for her advice on Valentines specs because he a) respects her opinion and b) doesn’t want to make the same mistakes with Courtney (or whoever he dates in the future) that he made with Jenna. Jenna can’t fathom that Matty simply doesn’t want to be the a-hole that he was when they were together. This is aptly demonstrated when she mistakenly spots him holding Courtney’s hand under the table – she thinks he’s flaunting the new girl in her face, as though every move Matty is about Jenna. In fact, it seems significantly more likely that Matty is not ready to DTR, but he’s also learned not to withhold his affections solely to the Sanctuary or the playpen in his backyard.

Matty’s growing up. Jenna, on the other hand, seems stuck in the same old mindset.

Other Observations:

  • The real kicker is that Jake admits he loves Jenna at the end of their date. The moment he gives the spiel about why he selected Calla Lilies for her (because they’re strong and beautiful like her – awww) it’s clear just how much more invested in their relationship he is. Her obsession with Matty throughout dinner, as well as her response to Jake’s love proclamation – “Awesome” – more or less puts a fork in this relationship. It’s now living solely on borrowed time, which sucks because Jake is still clearly an awesome guy. We’ll see what sex brings to the equation in next week’s episode
  • In general the Tamara stuff at the Black Hearts party is tolerable because it occurs as a backdrop to the burgeoning attraction between Ming (Jessica Lu) and new guy, Freddie (Kelly Sry). Of course, there’s another kicker in these scenes: the girl that Ricky Swartz (Matthew Fahey) is “in love with” (according to Ming’s Asian Mafia contacts) is…Sadie (Molly Tarlov)? It’s almost enough to justify Tamara’s response: peeing her pants
  • Side Note: Tamara has always been an outrageous character, but her antics by this point, up to and including peeing your pants at a party in front of all your peers, would classify her as a social pariah. This girl is now pretty much everything the care-frontation letter said she was
  • Finally, very little forward momentum of the separation between Kevin (Mike Faiola) and Lacey (Nikki Deloach) – he’s still not interested in forgiving her and she’s desperate to pretend she’s fine. It’s rather cruel of Jenna to poke holes in her mom’s obviously fake social life, so the entire “Lifetime movie marathon” comment just makes the teenager seem even more juvenile than usual. Even Jenna’s reconciliatory gesture – giving Lacey the stuffed toy love bug her father left for her – is poorly thought out. The lie will obviously be exposed later, and this mistakenly offers Lacey a quick-fix of happiness without considering the implications it will have on her parents’ relationship. I’ll probably end up being wrong and this will turn into the misunderstanding that brings her parents back together, but for now I think that this is just further proof that Jenna is acting seriously juvenile and thoughtlessly

Best Lines:

  • Greer Grammer’s Lissa (after Sadie suggests she’s feeling super bitchy): “How is that different from every other day?”
  • Ming (wondering about the appeal of sculpture of yourself made out of skittles): “Who wants to eat their own face?”

What do you think, Awkward. fans: are you as frustrated with Jenna’s narcissism and lack of maturity as I am? How long before her relationship with Jake dissolves? And were you so shocked at Sadie and Ricky’s bathroom hook-up that you peed yourself like Tamara? Weigh in on the Valentine’s drama below

Awkward. airs Thursdays at 10:30pm EST on MTV. Earlier this week it was renewed by MTV for a 20 episode S3

About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy

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