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Featured TV on DVD Review: Awkward.: Season One and Two

October 19th, 2013

Awkward.: Season One and Two - Buy from Amazon: Buy from Amazon

Awkward. started in 2011 and was a hit with critics right away. In fact, it earned a place on a number of top ten TV shows of 2011. I previously described the show as my favorite TV show on MTV since Daria, and I love Daria. On the other hand, this isn't the first time it has been released on DVD. Is the two-season box set worth picking up for those that missed it the first time around?

Before we get to the review, there's a slight problem reviewing this DVD. Because it is the first and second season, and because there are plenty of relationship storylines throughout, there comes a point in season one where spoilers get too intense. Also, basically anything I can talk about in season two is a spoiler for season one.

The Show

Ashley Rickards stars as Jenna Hamilton, whom we meet as she is at summer camp. She has a crush on Matty McKibben, who is much cooler than she is. He also likes Jenna, but after the two have sex, he tells her no one can know he likes her, because it would be bad for his reputation. Reeling from this, Jenna comes home for the day, gets insulted by her mother, and receives a letter. After talking to her friend, Tamara, she even more depressed by what Matt said. (Tamara didn't know the full story and tried to cheer her up by say, 'At least you didn't sleep with him.') She writes an entry on her blog, "Invisible Girl", saying this was the worst day of her life and how sometimes being a teenager makes you want to die. She then reads the letter she got, a "carefrontation" letter, which says, among other things, that if she died, no one would notice. Ouch. It offers some advice how she could change, but still... Ouch. At this point, she decides to take a couple aspirin and take a nice warm bath to relax. However, in a series of events that would make Rube Goldberg proud, she manages to knock herself out and fracture her shoulder.

Everyone thinks Jenna tried to kill herself. This includes her mom, Tamara and her other best friend, Ming Huang, and her new guidance counselor, Valerie Marks. All of these people try and be supportive, but it doesn't help. On the other hand, Sadie uses this as another opportunity to bully Jenna. Sadie is the most popular girl in school, but not because she's nice or anything like that. Her father is rich and she buys her popularity. Jenna decides that if everyone was going to stare, she might as well do something proactive about it, and it works. Matt isn't willing to talk to her in public, but she does speak with Jake Rosati, one of the most popular guys in school. He thinks she's brave for standing up for herself. Jake is also best friends with Matt and currently dating Lissa, who is one of Sadie's friends. Complicated.

While Jenna's popularity took a jump after her accident, she's happy to return to normal and be one of the invisible ones. However, that can't happen right away, because Sadie convinces Lissa to take a nude pick of Jenna in the locker room and spread the picture around the school. It does have a silver lining, as Matt finally wants to start a relationship with Jenna. He still wants to keep it secret, on the other hand. Jenna thinks that will change when Matty invites her to an A-list party, but he ends up making out with another girl and it's Jake that ends up driving her home. Jenna is still interested in a relationship with Matt, but Matt's unwillingness to go public and go steady pushes Jenna away, and right to Jake.

So that's about where we need to stop before we run into spoilers, as the love triangle between Jenna, Matt, and Jake take up a lot of the first season. (Plus an indeterminate amount of the second season. I'm saying indeterminate, because I don't want to give away spoilers for season two.)

Like I said, I think Awkward. is the best TV shows on MTV since Daria, and the two shows share more than a few similarities, including centering on a teenage girl, in this case Jenna, who is a social outcast of sorts and is smart. Granted, Jenna is a whole lot happier and not nearly as sarcastic as Daria, and is also more successful when it comes to social interactions. The stories are also a little more cartoonish at times, but there's also a lot of heart that goes into the show. Ashley Rickards is excellent in the lead role and has excellent comedic timing and is just as good in the more dramatic scenes. The supporting characters are also fantastic, although they are a little broadly written early in the show, but they are humanized and given much more depth as the series progresses. This is certainly true with Sadie.

As for season two, I really can't get into the plot without spoiling things, I think there's definitely an improvement in the overall quality. The actors and the writers are more confident with the characters and that certainly helps. I can't wait to see Season Three, the first half of which is already out on DVD.

The Extras

This DVD is basically two two-disc DVDs in one box, one for each season, and each season has extras on the second disc. Season one has three sets of webisodes. The first has Valerie giving advice, the second is about Sadie's Anger Management. And the third has Jake telling the morning announcement. Up next is a 17-minute, nine-part behind-the-scenes featurette. There are character intros for the seven main characters. Finally there is a two-and-a-half minute long intro to the show. Season two has two more sections of webisodes, V-Time and Morning Announcements. There is also an eight-part, 27-minute long behind-the-scenes featurette. There are no audio commentary tracks, but this is still a great selection of extras.

The Verdict

Awkward. is a terrific TV show and one of the more realistic depictions of teenage life. If you didn't pick up the previous releases, then the four-disc Season One and Two DVD is a great deal.

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Filed under: Video Review, Nikki Deloach, Beau Mirchoff, Desi Lydic, Ashley Rickards, Jillian Rose Reed, Jessica Lu, Molly Tarlov, Brett Davern, Greer Grammer