MTV should either close MTV2 (there's little on the main, the secondary channel seems increasingly pointless) or consider a major reinvention of the network. While the network has long since moved past its original intent as music television, what is left of the network has become almost astonishingly cheaper and junkier. "Awkward" is one of the few sitcoms left on the network (and one of only a couple of bright spots), which has become a mess of derivative garbage ("Ridiculousness", which is an unfunny ripoff of "Tosh.O"), cheap garbage ("Guy Court", "Girl Code") and a mess of various reruns ("Boy Meets World", "Martin" and others are seen during the slower periods.) Even "Jersey Shore" feels substantial in comparison to most of what can be found on the network today.
"Awkward", while nothing all that memorable, is at least a bright spot in what has otherwise become something of a programming wasteland. The series stars Ashley Richards as Jenna Hamilton, a shy teenager who makes her attempts to try the difficult task of trying to fit in at her high school.
She finds her voice in her blog, "awkward", which becomes increasingly popular. You have a teenage culture that is increasingly focused on social media and I think the show does a decent job exploring that, although doesn't really given much focus on the negatives. Not that long ago, when a kid left school, a kid got a break from all of the social pressures, bullying and any number of other things. Now, with social media, all of these things continue off of school grounds. It was hard enough to be a kid a couple of decades ago, in some ways I think technology has made things more difficult for kids these days.
In "Awkward", Jenna continually tries to fit in, but her efforts often lead to stumbles. It's a credit to the series that the character is endearing and you want to root for her rather than making "Awkward" feel, well, too awkward and cringe-worthy. Whether it be winding up in a situation where people thought she tried to commit suicide (and as a result she has to see the school's amusingly dim counselor) or a misguided hook-up with the school's most popular guy, Matty (Beau Mirchoff).
"Awkward" seems awfully comfortable in these first and second seasons. The performances are pretty good, including enjoyable efforts from Jillian Rose Reed as Jenna's good friend and Nikki DeLoach as Jenna's inept mother. Some of the highlights on these seasons include: "Queen Beeatches" (Jenna has to socialize with some of the school's mean girls at a charity event), "My Super Bittersweet Sixteen" (Jenna has a downer of a birthday until a visit late at night), "Resolutions" (Jenna is faced with choices in her potential relationship/s.)
The show has been renewed for a fourth season, although I think the way that MTV is, it's probably not going to continue all that longer. Given the show's depth of character and rather subtle insights (at times) into growing up, the series feels so sharply different from the tone ("Hooking Up") of the rest of MTV's largely reality-TV programming. A few years ago, the network said it wanted to start more positive programming. That didn't last very long - MTV wanted to reinvent itself and that is a task that I think needs to be done now more than ever.
• Season 1
1 1-01 19/Jul/11 Pilot
2 1-02 26/Jul/11 Knocker Nightmare
3 1-03 02/Aug/11 The Way We Weren't
4 1-04 09/Aug/11 The Scarlet Eye
5 1-05 16/Aug/11 Jenna Lives
6 1-06 23/Aug/11 Queen Bee-atches
7 1-07 30/Aug/11 Over My Dead Body
8 1-08 06/Sep/11 The Adventures of Aunt Ally and the Lil' Bitch
9 1-09 13/Sep/11 My Super Bittersweet Sixteen
10 1-10 20/Sep/11 No Doubt
11 1-11 27/Sep/11 I am Jenna Hamilton
12 1-12 27/Sep/11 Fateful
• Season 2
13 2-01 28/Jun/12 Resolutions
14 2-02 05/Jul/12 Sex, Lies and the Sanctuary
15 2-03 12/Jul/12 Three's a Crowd
16 2-04 19/Jul/12 Are You There God? It's Me, Jenna
17 2-05 26/Jul/12 My Love is a Black Heart
18 2-06 02/Aug/12 What Comes First: Sex or Love?
19 2-07 09/Aug/12 Another One Bites the Dust
20 2-08 16/Aug/12 Time After Time
21 2-09 23/Aug/12 Homewrecker Hamilton
22 2-10 30/Aug/12 Pick Me, Choose Me, Love Me
23 2-11 13/Sep/12 Once Upon a Blog
24 2-12 20/Sep/12 The Other Shoe
Video/Audio: "Awkward" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widesceen. Presentation quality is appealing, as while not crystal clear, the series remained crisp and clean throughout much of the running time - only a few instances of artifacting were noticed. Colors appeared bright and warm, with no smearing or other faults. The show's Dolby 2.0 presentation is just fine, remaining dialogue-driven.
Extras: The set doesn't include any commentaries, which is a bit of a bummer. It does include a ton of little promotional features. The first season includes: webisodes, a set tour, "Cast Chemistry" featurette, "Cast Awkward Moments" featurette, "Valerie's Desk", "Mothers and Daughters" featurette, "Wardrobe Trailer" featurette, "Jake and Lissa's Relationship" featurette, "Peer-Enting" featurette, "Pranks" featurette, Character intros and "About the Show". The second season includes a bit less: "Websiodes", "Dressing Awkward", "What's to Come", "Character Advice", "Team Matty vs Team Jake", "Cast vs Fans", "Fan Correspondents", "On the Red Carpet" and "Interview With Molly".
Final Thoughts: "Awkward" seems awfully comfortable in these first and second seasons. The show has been renewed for a fourth season, although I think the way that MTV is, it's probably not going to continue all that longer. Given the show's depth of character and rather subtle insights (at times) into growing up, the series feels so refreshingly different from the tone ("Hooking Up") of the rest of MTV's largely reality-TV programming and hopefully, it will continue on. The DVD set offers fine audio/video quality, as well as a handful of minor extras. Recommended.