By Curt Wagner
7:39 PM CDT, June 27, 2012
For years I've avoided MTV as the wasteland of "Jersey Shore," "Teen Mom" and "The Real World," so I never expected to find a gem of a show there. Now I've discovered two.
I was a quick convert to "Teen Wolf" when it debuted last season, but I failed to tune in to MTV's new comedy, "Awkward" (9:30 p.m. June 28, MTV; 3 stars out of 4). Thanks to a recent Season 1 marathon and a look at two episodes of the new season, I've learned my lesson: MTV isn't all bad, and "Awkward" is whip-smart and hilarious.
With the right amount of exaggerated realism, creator Lauren Iungerich turns all the yearning, pain and, well, awkwardness of high school into a frothy, funny satire that should make anyone feel better about their own fumbling ways.
When the series began last year, our heroine Jenna (Ashley Rickards) accidentally broke her arm and everyone in school thought she had tried to kill herself. She'd lost her virginity at camp to jock Matty (Beau Mirchoff), who was only interested in sex until he later realized Jenna—who isn't popular, a star athlete or a brainiac—was actually just a pretty cool girl.
Matty eventually became smitten with Jenna, although he seemed nervous about going public with their relationship. Matt's buddy, Jake (Brett Davern), also had the hots for Jenna, but neither guy knew they liked the same girl. And Jenna simply didn't know what to do.
As Season 2 begins, Jenna is trying to decide between sweet, not-worried-about-what-others-think Jake and hot Matty. To complicate things, a secret security camera may have captured some potentially incriminating footage that could affect Jenna's decision. She enlists one of her friends, Ming Huang (Jessica Lu), to butter up the school's brainy Asian group to get the tape before anything is leaked.
As if navigating the nightmare of high school cliques isn't enough, Jenna's also dealing with her meddling mother, Lacey (Nikki DeLoach), and her wacky guidance counselor, Valerie (Desdi Lydic), both of whom seem more "high school" than Jenna at times.
High school comedies are hit-or-miss. For every "Mean Girls" or "Juno" or "The In-Betweeners" there are 10 others that suck. But high school horrors are pretty universal—even for people well past that age like me—and "Awkward's" writing is sharp enough to keep even those viewers who refuse to go to their reunions laughing.
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