Awkward. review – 2×11: ‘Once Upon A Blog’

Courtesy of MTV

After taking a week off for the excretable MTV Video Awards, the penultimate episode of Awkward.‘s second season finally airs. Unfortunately the episode needs its own ‘do-over’ since it mostly amounts to narrative wheel spinning.

Let’s bitch it out…Alright let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: yes, this is clearly a placeholder episode meant to subsist us until the finale when we will learn whether Jenna (Ashley Rickards) picks Team Matty (Beau Mirchoff) or Team Jake (Brett Davern). The result is a “do-over” episode in which none of the stories we see actually happen, which makes it feel like significantly less vital. It’s amusing to hear Jenna talk about her unsuccessful do-overs as though they are actually options she could choose. The fact that they’re entirely imagined by her and not some kind of Community-esque alternate timeline means that Jenna not only shouldn’t write fiction, but that she needs to get a better self-image (who imagines themselves as a raging beyotch or a knocked-up lovelorn teen?)

The episode is saved primarily by the first ‘do-over’, and that’s mostly thanks to Rickards’ ability to pull off one mother of a Mean Girl impression. You can tell that the actress had tons of fun being a total nightmare, and the jokes/insults fly fast and furious. The second ‘do-over’, in comparison, is just a role-reversal in which Jenna is more into Jake and things predictably end in disaster when she suffocates him. I’ve never been a fan of the “we’re great together until we have terrible sex” storyline (see also: Grey’s Anatomy) since it always feels like a cop-out, so as enjoyable as it is watching Jake say “Awesome” to Jenna’s declaration of love in this timeline, I can’t say I really enjoyed it much.

The narrative possibilities are most ripe in the third ‘do-over’ scenario, in which Jenna chooses neither boy. And yet somehow this is the one that fails most spectacularly. This timeline would have us believe that without boys in her life Jenna is unknown to everyone but Tamara (Jillian Rose-Reed) and Ming (Jessica Lu). Again, this is Jenna’s imagination at work, but that is a really terrible message for girls to imagine: your relationship with boys will make or break your anonymity in high school. Good luck! I’d say it’s amusing that Jenna ultimately alters the sexual orientation of Matty and Jake in order to mend her own wounded pride, but it’s such a smug “gay as punchline” move that its actually quite insulting. Aside from providing fodder for slash fiction, this piece, which has the potential to be the best/most interesting of the three pointless ‘do-overs’, feels tacked on, unnecessary and poorly conceived.

Naturally the episode ends where I’m sure many wished it had of begun: with Jenna making her choice to an unknown caller. Part of me hopes that there is another surprise in store and Jenna ultimately finds a third option to her boy dilemma, but the previews for next week’s finale suggest that we’ll simply see more of the love triangle. If that’s true, then S2 looks to end on the same one-note storyline it began on. We’ll see what happens next week…

Courtesy of MTV

Other Observations:

  • After putting up with backseat bloggers harping over the various Teams (including Team Jacob, the Jew-fro guy), Jenna does what she should have done as soon as the publicity blew up in her face: switch the blog to private. If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s the importance of maintaining a good digital footprint online. Jenna makes a wise move limiting the amount of personal information about her and her immediate circle of friends and family available to any casual web surfer
  • Since nothing actually happens to anyone, there’s little to report-on elsewhere. I did, however, appreciate that Sadie (Molly Tarlov) likes “Mean” Jenna in the Matty ‘do-over’ timeline…because Jenna insults her. This is what it takes to earn Sadie’s respect, folks
  • Similarly, how on the nose is “Mean” Jenna’s take-down of Val’s (Desi Lydic) Walmart greeter vest? It’s cruel, but we’ve all been thinking it. Between that vest and her usual fanny-packs? Yikes…
  • Finally, I enjoyed the metatextual references in which characters comment on the storylines they’re in. My favourite: in the Jake ‘do-over’ timeline, Jenna explains her parents are frequently traveling to Aruba. After the break-up and mock pregnancy, Lacey (Nikki Deloach) and Kevin (Mike Faiola) confusedly wonder why they spend so much time there. It’s silly, but still amusing

Best Lines:

  • Jenna (in voice-over while writing Twilight-esque fiction): “She didn’t realize the undead could suck so hard”
  • Mean Jenna (elaborating on her increased bust and speedy recovery in the Matty ‘do-over’): “I got a boob job…I heal fast”
  • Greer Grammer’s Lissa (when Jake suggests they need space in his ‘do-over’): “You’re transferring to another school?”
  • Tamara (when Jake goes back to Lissa in his ‘do-over’): “He’s getting back together with dumbo”
  • Jake (after Jenna reveals the pregnancy was faked in Jake’s ‘do-over’): “I would love that really cute baby, but I would never love you”
  • Ming (regarding people’s propensity for referring to Matty by his full name in the No Boys ‘do-over’): “Why do people always call him by his full name?”

Overall, not my favourite episode of Awkward. What did you think: was it worth waiting two weeks for? Were you disappointed that we spent an episode spinning in circles? Did you enjoy one ‘do-over’ more than the others? And why did Jenna send her parents to Aruba, of all places? Sound off below with your thoughts

Awkward. airs Thursdays at 10:30pm EST on MTV

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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