Awkward (TV series)
|Created by||Lauren Iungerich|
|Narrated by||Ashley Rickards|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||89 (list of episodes)|
|Location(s)||Los Angeles, California|
|Cinematography||Steve Gainer (series)
Eric Haase (pilot)
|Running time||20–44 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Remote Productions
Crazy Cat Lady Productions
MTV Production Development
|Distributor||Viacom Media Networks|
|Original release||July 19, 2011– May 24, 2016|
Awkward is an American teen comedy series created by Lauren Iungerich for MTV. The show's central character is Jenna Hamilton (Ashley Rickards), a Palos Verdes, California, teenager who struggles with her identity, especially after an accident is misconstrued as a suicide attempt.
The series premiered on July 19, 2011. MTV renewed the series for a second season on August 24, 2011. The second season premiered on June 28, 2012 at 10:30 pm Awkward was officially renewed for a third season with an order of 20 episodes on July 25, 2012, which began airing on April 16, 2013, at 10:00 pm. On June 26, 2013, it was announced that the show's creator Lauren Iungerich would be exiting the show after production of season three concludes on June 27, 2013. The rest of the show's third season began airing on October 22, 2013.
MTV renewed the series for a fourth season on August 5, 2013, that premiered on April 15, 2014, with new showrunners, Chris Alberghini and Mike Chessler, to replace creator and former showrunner, Lauren Iungerich.
Awkward's first season was generally well-received with television critics praising the show's realism and writing as well as its central character, and was included in various critics' top ten lists. The show also earned several award nominations, winning one Teen Choice Award and one People's Choice Award.
On October 8, 2014, Awkward was renewed for a fifth and final season, which premiered on August 31, 2015. The mid-season finale aired on November 9, 2015; when the show returned in 2016, the story picked up during the summer after the characters' freshman year of college. The second half of season 5 premiered on March 15, 2016. Producer Chris Alberghini said that there could possibly be a season 6 if MTV decides and that there are more stories to tell. Most cast members have agreed that they would happily return if there is a season 6, and told fans to tell MTV if they want more seasons.
Social outcast Jenna Hamilton has an accident, but it looks like she tried to commit suicide after getting a "carefrontation" letter. She begins a blog that helps her deal with different high school issues such as boy troubles, peer-pressure, and trying to fit in. By making changes and embracing her misfortune, she becomes well-known to her peers.
|Season premiere||Season finale|
|1||12||July 19, 2011||September 27, 2011|
|2||12||June 28, 2012||September 20, 2012|
|3||20||April 16, 2013||December 17, 2013|
|4||21||April 15, 2014||November 25, 2014|
|5||24||August 31, 2015||May 24, 2016|
Season 1 (2011)
After losing her virginity to the popular Matty McKibben during summer camp, Jenna Hamilton continues a secret relationship with him that only her two best friends Tamara and Ming know about. Upon returning home from camp, Jenna receives a "care-frontation" letter from an anonymous source, brutally criticizing her for being a "loser". When Jenna attempts to get rid of the letter, she falls and breaks her arm, accidentally making it look like a suicide attempt. Gossip spreads fast, which makes Jenna receive unwanted attention at school, especially from nosy guidance counselor, Ms. Marks, and mean girl Sadie Saxton. Jenna decides to take the advice in the care-frontation letter to become bolder and more outgoing, and her popularity increases as a result. Jenna's growing popularity initially creates tension between her and her friends but the three eventually make up. Jenna begins to resent being in a secret relationship with Matty. Later she finds out that Matty's best friend, Jake Rosati, has been hiding a crush on her. Jake breaks up with his beautiful but ditzy girlfriend, Lissa, to ask Jenna to the Winter Formal. Jenna ends her relationship with Matty to be with Jake, with her and Matty keeping their former relationship a secret from Jake. After several false leads, Jenna finds out who wrote her the confrontation letter—her mother, Lacey.
Season 2 (2012)
Jake falls in love with Jenna and they begin a relationship, but this leads to awkward tension between her and Matty. The two try to keep any evidence that they were together a secret. Meanwhile, Jenna makes her mother tell her father that she herself wrote the "carefrontation" letter. After that, Kevin moves out and breaks up with Lacey because he can't understand how she could have done something so cruel to her own daughter. Meanwhile, Sadie begins dating Ricky Schwartz, much to Tamara's dismay. Jenna's "Aunt Ally" returns to get married and Jenna worries that Lacey's high school boyfriend, who is invited to the wedding, will ruin her parents' chances of getting back together. Jenna intervenes and eventually Kevin and Lacey make up. Jenna struggles with her feelings for Jake and realizes she is still in love with Matty. Sadie tells Jake about Jenna's previous relationship with Matty and he breaks up with her. On his way to apologize to Jenna, he witness her kissing Matty. The two boys get in a public fistfight but eventually make up and ask Jenna to choose between them. After much deliberation, Jenna chooses Matty over Jake and the two begin their relationship anew although Jenna wonders if she made the right decision by choosing to stay with Matty instead of going to the summer trip to Europe. At the end of the year party, Jake and Tamara kiss and become a couple while Sadie is devastated to find Ricky cheating on her with another guy, Clark.
Season 3 (2013)
When school starts again, Jenna is jealous to find out that Tamara has a new look and has become closer with Jake and Valerie. However, Tamara's increased popularity creates tension between her and Jake, especially when they run against each other for student body president. Ming finally finds a boyfriend and becomes head of the "Asian Mafia" although the power quickly goes to her head. Jenna starts taking a creative writing class where she meets Collin, an attractive intellectual. As Jenna gets bored with her relationship with Matty, she starts a fling with Collin.
This affair is then revealed on Jenna's 17th birthday party. Matty is willing to forgive Jenna, but she breaks up with him for Collin. Jenna becomes increasingly isolated from her friends as she spends more of her time with Collin, who encourages her to smoke pot. Eventually Jenna and Collin split after she gets suspended and realizes her mistakes. Her friends forgive her, but her actions aren't forgotten.
Ming's reign of power in the Asian Mafia eventually ends when she negotiates with Becca to keep her position as the leader as long as she leaves her and her boyfriend, Fred Wu, alone.
Season 4 (2014)
Jenna is in her senior year and hoping to make amends for the prior year's mishaps. She attempts being more involved in school, improving her academics, preparing for college and rekindling her relationship with Matty. A new girl, Eva, enrolls in school. Ming has broken up with Fred Wu and moved away to Vermont while Tamara and Jake partake in a sexually active relationship. Jake changes his image during the summer, starts making music and eventually decides to break up with Tamara. Sadie lives with her adoptive parent, Ally, while working nights at a food truck. Matty gets a job and continues to be friends with Jenna. They end up having sex and his evasion afterwards leads Jenna to think he is embarrassed to be with her. He is actually grieving over the fact that he's adopted and quits his job in rebellion. In sympathy, Matty and Jenna become friends with benefits. Jenna eventually ends it and becomes romantically involved with Luke, a college freshman. This causes more friction between Matty and Jenna and to compensate, Jenna tries to get him and Eva together. Jenna realizes that she hasn't truly let Matty go, which puts strain on her relationship with Luke as Matty and Jenna argue whenever they see each other due to Eva causing trouble. Eva black-mails Sadie so Austin breaks up with her and tries to make Jenna jealous, including by leaving her underwear in Jenna's bed, so that it looks like she and Matty slept together. The mid-season ends with Luke and Jenna breaking up, Eva being caught in her lies, Tamara and Jake becoming friends, and Mr. Hamilton being injured.
On New Years, Matty, Jenna, Jake and Tamara get together and decide to crash Sadie's aunt's party. While there, Matty reconciles with his mother and Jenna finds a new guy to kiss at midnight, a guy she later finds out is a sophomore. Meanwhile, college acceptances are rolling in and it seems as though everyone's been accepted except Jenna. Jenna attempts to get into Lockard University, but while she doesn't get accepted, her mother does. On Matty's 18th birthday, Jenna competes with his new girlfriend Gabby, only to realize Gabby is genuinely nice and means no harm. Jenna confesses to Matty that she feels like Gabby's virginity is worth waiting for, and that her own wasn't. Matty argues and tells her that he didn't want to be alone when he opened a letter which would tell him who his birth parents are, which showed how much Jenna means to him. After Matty's disappointment of discovering that his birth mother does not want to be found, Jenna comforts him and the two end up kissing. Jenna tells him she can't because he needs to be loyal to Gabby but Matty says, "It's us. It's kinda different, goes a bit beyond the rules of high school." During spring break, Jenna locates Matty's father and they plan to meet him in Mexico. Gabby shows up and goes with Matty instead. While in Mexico, Tamara gets engaged to a man named Adam whom she meets in a bar. Adam is in basic military training and she accepts his proposal, thinking that he is going to serve somewhere far away but in reality, he will be in California. Meanwhile, Mrs. Hamilton discovers she is pregnant and considers not going to college. Later, it is revealed that Gabby slept with Jake and Jenna finally lets go of Matty as she begins dating a friend of Adam. Matty goes to the beach to get away from things but instead sees Jenna and her new date in the distance. Jake then shows up on the beach, initially wanting to confess about him and Gabby but decides to keep quiet instead. The season ends with Matty staring at Jenna in the distance on the beach, wondering whether he has lost his chance of true love.
Season 5 (2015–2016)
Awkward was renewed for a fifth season on October 8, 2014. It is planned to be split in two parts (like Seasons 3 and 4), with the first half telling the story of their graduation and the second half telling the story after their freshman year of college. Executive producers Chris Alberghini and Mike Chessler revealed that they are hopeful that the show will be renewed for a sixth season.
Cast and characters
- Ashley Rickards as Jenna Hamilton, the titular "awkward" girl with an irreverent, optimistic outlook on life. The series begins with her receiving a brutal "care-frontation" letter that urges her to become less invisible. Jenna loses her virginity to and has a complicated on-off relationship with Matty McKibben. She is also an aspiring writer. Her best friends are Tamara Kaplan and (in earlier seasons) Ming Huang.
- Beau Mirchoff as Matty McKibben, Jenna's main love interest. He initially appears to be a typical popular jock but over the course of the series reveals a deeper, more sensitive side. He struggles when he is out of his comfort zone, as he normally doesn't have to try very hard to be well-liked or accepted. He has a complicated relationship with his parents, and discovered he was adopted mid-series. He later meets his birth father, who, like Jenna's parents, had Matty at a very young age. Matty's best friend is Jake Rosati.
- Nikki DeLoach as Lacey Hamilton, Jenna's young, appearance-obsessed mother who had Jenna as a teenager. She secretly wrote Jenna the brutal "care-frontation" letter in an ill-advised attempt to make her daughter more happy and popular. Once revealed, Jenna stopped speaking to her and Jenna's dad, Kevin, moved out of the family home. They later reconciled. She and Jenna seem to be polar opposites at times, but she has displayed genuine love and concern for her throughout the series. Her best friends are Ally Saxton and Val Marks.
- Jillian Rose Reed as Tamara Kaplan, Jenna's best friend and a perky, type A personality who is as obsessed with her own brand of slang as she is with becoming popular. Tamara is seen as fun and outgoing but also often bossy and annoying because of her loud antics. A recurring theme of the series is Tamara succeeding much easier at being well-liked (as a cheerleader, then later as Sadie Saxton's friend) than Jenna. She also tends to lead a disastrous love life.
- Brett Davern as Jake Rosati, Matty's best friend and a brief love interest for Jenna. Jake is popular like Matty, but for different reasons; he's the class president, known for his smarts and tends to be well-liked by everyone for his caring nature. Later, Jake and Tamara date but break up over Tamara's bossy personality. Jake goes through identity crises throughout the series, rejecting his goody two-shoes image to become a "cooler" singer and later as a "townie," electing to take a gap year from college to work in Palos Hills. His most frequent love interest is Lissa Miller.
- Molly Tarlov as Sadie Saxton, one of the most popular girls in school, though mostly because everyone fears her. She is head cheerleader despite being overweight at the beginning of the series. Sadie is known for wit, particularly when it comes to caustic barbs that are usually followed by a sarcastic "You're welcome." She has an immense dislike for Jenna, and the feeling is mutual. Later, her father goes to jail because of a Ponzi scheme and her family loses all their riches, with her mother eventually abandoning Sadie. Her only serious relationship is with Sergio, who likes her despite how cruel she can be.
- Desi Lydic as Valerie Marks (seasons 1–5A; appeared in the 5B finale only), the incompetent but well-intentioned guidance counselor at Palos Hills High. Jenna begins seeing her after her accident in the pilot is misinterpreted as a suicide attempt. Val displays extreme lapses in judgment both in her counseling of the students (particularly Jenna) as well as her own personal life. She sees Jenna as more of a close friend (often referring to her as "my girl") and later forms friendships with Lacey and Ally. Val dates a professional mascot named "Biggie." After the kids graduate, Val quits to "find herself."
- Greer Grammer as Lissa Miller (seasons 3–5; recurring seasons 1–2), a dimwitted cheerleader and Sadie's best friend, though she often serves as a clueless sidekick. Lissa is deeply religious, and often relates (and misinterprets) the teachings of Christianity to even the smallest things. Lissa's family is rocked by scandal when her dad admits he is gay. She also has an on-off relationship with Jake.
- Jessica Lu as Ming Huang (season 3; recurring seasons 1–2), Jenna's other best friend. She bucks Asian stereotypes because she, at first, has very little interaction with the other Asian students at Palos Hills, much to their confusion and derision. She's also demonstrated to have average at best grades. At first displaying more of a hipster, tomboy style (frequently accompanied by hats and beanies), Ming adopts a radical makeover in season 3 once she takes control of the "Asian Mafia," wearing her hair in blonde curls. She dates Fred Wu, ex-boyfriend of her nemesis Becca, but leaves before season 4 to attend a boarding school.
Series creator Lauren Iungerich spent time with actual high school students to elaborate the teen dialogue of the show. She also met them to talk about their lives and to make sure the show reflects the reality.
Citing her writing influences, Iungerich said she likes Friday Night Lights: "What Jason Katims did in five seasons was utterly beautiful. The story and who the people truly were came first. That's what I sort of took away from it; to be so bold as to graduate people, and wrap up story lines or allow them to come back in organic ways and to fall in love with the new characters. I want to take a lesson from that. Moving forward, I'm going to take a note from the brave things that he did in that show."
Awkward mostly received positive reviews for its first season. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the TV series received an average score of 74, based on 13 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". The Wall Street Journal's Dorothy Rabinowitz explained Awkward is a "series about a high-school girl that's neither maudlin nor alarming nor conceived with intent to preach or to shock. It's further distinguished by its focus on entirely recognizable teenage pains, as endured by an entirely recognizable teenager, Jenna (Ashley Rickards). Its other distinction: strong echoes of an older kind of storytelling, the sort whose characters grow and acquire depth. This is a lot to expect these days from TV writing of any kind, much less a series about teenagers—it's relief enough when it's not about vampires." Hank Stuever of The Washington Post found that series "funny", which was "a pleasant surprise from MTV, the maker of so many lame teen comedies that I’ve lost count." The New York Times called Awkward as "a wry show about longing—for love, certainly, but also for consistency, that great intangible in the ever-morphing world of high school life". John Kubicek of BuddyTV website wrote "Just like Easy A, Mean Girls or other strong, female-centric teen comedies, Awkward has a quick wit and a very distinct vision of the world. It's the perfect blend of comedy and painful teenage awkwardness, and in the end, the title says it all." He concluded "The result is one of the most enjoyable and earnest teen comedies TV has produced". Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, David Wiegand described the show as "a very smart mix of realism and satirical exaggeration" and praised the writing for being sharp. Curt Wagner of RedEye stated Awkward is "whip-smart and hilarious" while lauding the sharpness of the writing.
The New York Post writer Linda Stasi gave the show a three stars rating out of four commenting "aside from the gratuitous sexual stuff, Awkward is a really good, funny, fun show". However, Stasi mentioned "this just isn't the kind of thing you'd want to watch with your kids—nor want your kids to watch." According to The Philadelphia Daily News, "Awkward, like Glee, deals gently and semicomically with issues of sexuality and bullying but never really draws blood". HitFix's Daniel Fienberg gave the show a B rating commenting "Not only are high school horrors pretty universal, even if the specifics change, but I can find a way to fit Awkward into a tradition of hyper-literal high school comedies like Pretty in Pink or Heathers or Mean Girls or Juno. It's not as good as any of those, but it's not as bad as Jawbreaker, which is in the same tradition." Variety's Brian Lowry was less enthusiastic about the show: "While the premise is refreshingly gimmick-free compared with RJ Berger or Teen Wolf, the situations aren't compelling enough to make this much more than a latter-day Doogie Howser, M.D. with a gender switch."
The character of Jenna Hamilton has received positive feedback. Entertainment Weekly wrote Jenna "navigates the sharky waters of high school, friends, mean cheerleaders, and cute boys with a snarky voice-over that makes her—and Awkward.—easy to fall in love with." The Huffington Post deemed Jenna's voice-overs "witty" as "[they] make this high-school dark comedy stand out from a crowd of stereotypical high school prime-time soaps." David Hinckley of the Daily News gave the show a four stars rating out of five and wrote "Awkward is very good". He explained "For all the times we've seen the high school outcast who feels alternately ignored and humiliated by her peer group, she has rarely been played better than Ashley Rickards plays Jenna Hamilton." and went on "If the dramas are exaggerated, Jenna makes the trauma feel legitimate, and her narration gives everything a knowing undertone of humor and self-awareness that keeps the most uncomfortable moments from being painful." Stasi compared Ashley Rickards to Juno actress Ellen Page: "Rickards is a great teen actress of the Ellen Page variety—the kind of kid whose pretty face and adorable bearing is swamped by her ability to look awkward and offbeat." The Washington Post wrote of Rickards: "Following the well-trod path of Molly Ringwald’s Sixteen Candles and Claire Danes’s My So-Called Life, she effortlessly manages to elevate the unfresh premise of MTV’s new Tuesday night comedy series, Awkward, to something that is tawdry yet honest.
Other characters' performances were also well received by critics. Kubicek appreciated that the show's villain, Sadie Saxton, is not "the typical perfect skinny girl" but "an overweight cheerleader who is popular only thanks to her parents."
Critics' top ten lists
Following its first season, Awkward was included in various critics' top ten lists.
- The Daily Beast (unranked list)
- The Huffington Post (unranked alphabetical list)
- IMDb (unranked list)
- The New York Daily News (unranked list)
- The New York Times (unranked alphabetical list)
|Year||Award||Category||Recipients and nominees||Outcome|
|2012||Young Artist Award||Best Performance in a TV Series – Leading Young Actress||Jillian Rose Reed||Nominated|
|2012||Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Comedy Actress||Ashley Rickards||Nominated|
|2012||Teen Choice Awards||Summer TV Star: Female||Nominated|
|2012||TV Breakout Star: Male||Beau Mirchoff||Won|
|2013||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Cable TV Comedy||Awkward||Won|
|2013||Young Artist Award||Best Performance in a TV Series – Guest Starring Young Actor 11–13||Robbie Tucker||Nominated|
|2014||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Cable TV Comedy||Awkward||Nominated|
|2015||People's Choice Awards||Favorite TV Dramedy||Awkward||Nominated|
DVD release dates
|Name||Release dates||Ep #||Additional information|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|Season One||November 15, 2011||October 4, 2012||October 17, 2012||12||The two disc set contains all 12 episodes of season one as well as special features including Webisodes, Behind-the-scenes tours of the set, Wardrobe trailer and Cast interviews.|
|Season Two||October 16, 2012||TBA||TBA||12|
|Season Three, Part One||August 3, 2013||TBA||TBA||10|
|Seasons One and Two||October 1, 2013||TBA||TBA||24|
|Season Three, Part Two||June 3, 2014||TBA||TBA||10|
|Season Three||August 5, 2014||TBA||TBA||20|
|Season Four||July 30, 2015||TBA||TBA||21|
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- "Breaking News – MTV Announces Sizzling Summer Lineup at 2012 Upfront". TheFutonCritic.com. April 26, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
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- "Good News, 'Awkward.' Fans: The Palos Hills High School Gang Is Coming Back For Season 4!". MTV.com. August 5, 2013. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
- "MTV's Awkward to End After Season 5". TVLine. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
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- Rabinowitz, Dorothy (July 22, 2011). "Therapy as Shock Treatment". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- Stuever, Hank (July 19, 2011). "TV: On ‘Web Therapy’ and ‘Awkward,’ a lot of Skyping and sniping". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- Bellafante, Ginia (July 18, 2011). "Teenager’s High-Five Is Plastered in Place". The New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- Kubicek, John. "'Awkward' Review: New MTV Comedy is Painfully Funny". BuddyTV. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- Wiegand, David (June 26, 2012). "'Awkward' review: A regular teen in high school". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
- Wagner, Curt (June 27, 2012). "TV review: Nothing 'Awkward' about this MTV gem". RedEye. Tribune Company. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
- Stasi, Linda (July 19, 2011). "'Awkward' suicide attempt makes for quirky series". New York Post. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- Gray, Ellen (July 19, 2011). "Ellen Gray: Teen parents' daughter is focus of MTV's 'Awkward'". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- Fienberg, Daniel (July 19, 2011). "TV Review: MTV's 'Awkward'". HitFix. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
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- Bell, Crystal (September 13, 2011). "'Awkward' Interview With Ashley Rickards: Actress Talks MTV Show, High School & Love Triangles". The Huffington Post. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- Hinckley, David (July 19, 2011). "'Awkward'". Daily News. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- Fernandez, Maria Elena (December 23, 2011). "Homeland, Justified, Downton Abbey & More: The Best and Worst TV Shows of 2011". The Daily Beast. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
- Ryan, Maureen (December 15, 2011). "Best TV Shows of 2011: 'Community', 'Homeland' & More". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
- McFarland, Melanie (December 14, 2011). "On Year End Lists, and Our Ten Reasons We Loved TV in 2011". IMDbTV. Archived from the original on October 9, 2012. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
- Hinckley, David (December 25, 2011). "Best in TV for 2011 includes 'Downton Abbey,' '2 Broke Girls,' 'Homeland' and more". The New York Daily News. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
- Hale, Mike (December 16, 2011). "Drama, Fictional and Real, and Well-Earned Laughs". The New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
- "33rd Annual Young Artist Awards – Nominations / Special Awards". Young Artist Award. October 29, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2013.
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