Welcome to our first Awkward. two-part episode, also known as ‘the adventures of crazy town,. 80 pounds and the creampuff’. That’s right, folks, it’s time – after just one week! – for Ally’s (Barret Swatek) wedding. Clearly the sh*t is going to hit the fan!
Let’s bitch it out…I’ll admit that the first part of the episode frustrated me quite a bit: as comedically enjoyable as it is to watch Ally freak out in Bride-sastrous ways over stupid items like a basket, it’s less enjoyable to watch Jenna (Ashley Rickards) dissolve into a petulant, whiny child over the entrance of mom Lacey’s (Nikki DeLoach) high school sweetheart, Ben (Kristoffer Polaha – finally released from his Ringer prison). I get that Jenna would feel nervous about a handsome, tacky-in-a-con-artist-kinda-way guy stepping in on her absent dad’s territory, but her approach is beyond juvenile. Thankfully we have a nearly identical ‘teen girl’ reaction from Lacey, which reminds us just how similar both mother and daughter are (unfortunately the collective IQ of the audience also drops).
Things pick up once the wedding actually goes into high gear, though. Perhaps it’s because there’s less emphasis on Lacey’s marital problems and more on the destructive force that is Molly Tarlov’s Sadie. As her relationship with Matthew Fahey’s Ricky develops, Sadie has begun overemphasizing their affection for one another (through PDA face-sucking) while challenging anything that threatens their status as a couple. This allows her to singlehandedly, in the course of an evening, ruin both Tamara’s (Jillian Rose Reed) and Jenna’s lives.
Don’t get me wrong, I still care about what happens between Lacey and Kevin, but the way that Jenna reacts to Ben is so childish it drags Jenna back into unlikeable territory. Is her reaction genuine and a legitimate examination of how a teenager would respond to a romantic interloper? Certainly, but it also makes Jenna look like a naively stupid teenage girl – a role that Jenna has been reduced to a number of times this season that I’ve already protested about. Contrast this reaction with her approach when dealing with her peers: she’s mean, but honest with Sadie about Ricky’s cheating habits, courageous and painfully earnest in her phone confession of love for Jake (Brett Davern) and even a little wise – if slightly deluded – in her reaction to Matty’s (Beau Mirchoff) feelings for Courtney. Perhaps it’s part of Awkward.‘s commentary on how much easier it is to communicate with members of your peer/age group (hence the conflict produced by the care-frontation letter last season), but “peer Jenna” is who I’d much rather spend my time with.
Of course, one of the reasons that the second half of the episode is more enjoyable is because it is leading up to some big, explosive fireworks. We knew from last week’s teaser that Sadie would be the one to confirm that Jake is “sloppy seconds” when it comes to Matty (and therefore Jenna’s v-card), but we didn’t know that Jenna would be loving a heartfelt message – confessing that she loves Jake – at the exact same moment! (Side Note: Let this be a lesson to you, kids: don’t do over the phone what you can do in person). Whether this call will be enough to save their relationship now that Jake knows the truth, including that Jenna and Matty have been lying to him for quite some time, remains to be seen.
We’ve got six more days to wait to resolve this, as well as Tamara overhearing Ricky confess his love for Sadie and the wrap-up to Ben and Lacey’s “tacky” flirting. Boo urns!
- Best visual gag war: while Jenna chats with Jake on the phone, Ally literally embodies her role as a Bride-zilla by destroying patio furniture in the background or the slow pan of the bridesmaids (and Jenna, in her “flower b*tch” dress) all seated together on the couch with terrible Princess Leia style side-buns? Both hilarious, but the deadpan silence of the panning shot gives it the edge in my opinion
- Looking beyond Jenna’s reaction, there’s a clear through-line between the ‘missed opportunity’ relationships of Ben & Lacey and Jenna & Matty. It’s a little too on-the-nose, however, when Tamara exclaims that “Ben’s your Mom’s Matty” and Ben himself – despite knowing nothing about Jenna – elaborates that he hopes she learns from his experience of not fighting for love. Way to smack us over with the head with it, Awkward.
- Although it’s still a love-hate relationship with Valerie’s (Desi Lydic) ditziness, I did enjoy her reaction to the (admittedly lovely) bridesmaid dress. Let’s hope she gets wine-wasted in the second part and begins saying lots of inappropriate things
- Tamara (remarking on Jenna’s flower girl dress): “Put on a hat. It’ll hide your face”
- Sadie: “Where can I get ready?” Tamara: “By the dumpster?” Sadie: “That’s sweet, but I don’t have time for a tour of your home”
- Sadie (to Ally): “What you need to have is a detox from the crack pipe”
- Jenna (asking for Val’s help in distracting Ben): “I will buy you a cat. Persian?” Val: “Feral. I like to rescue” I love the call-back to the cat jokes from the second season premiere!
Thoughts on the first part of the wedding? Were you are fan of the peach bridesmaids dresses? Are we in agreement that Jenna is back into annoying teen mode or do you not mind her reaction to Ben? Are you frustrated that Lacey’s grief over the demise of her relationship is brushed aside so she can gush over tacky compliments? And do you think Sadie is – as Jake called her – a b*tch for telling him the truth? Hit the comments below and don’t forget to speculate about how it all gets resolved next week!
Awkward. airs Thursdays at 10:30pm EST on MTV