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Awkward: Season 3

Paramount // Unrated // September 16, 2014
List Price: $26.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Aaron Beierle | posted November 12, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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 Rickards 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. In a world of Instagram, Snapchat and the Next Big Thing, "Awkward" does a pretty decent job at portraying the world of social media, although it could delve a little further into the downsides. 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. As comedian Louis C.K. brilliantly goes over in his act, there's really no building of empathy for other people in our connected world where we often don't actually have to face people.

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. Admittedly Rickards is not the stereotypical image of one might think of when it comes to awkward youth (not that MTV had to come up with the female "Napoleon Dynamite" - "Whatever I feel like I wanna do, gosh!" - but Rickards could certainly play the popular girl on any teen series), but it's to her credit that she plays the role strongly enough that this doesn't really come up as that much of a concern.

The third season of "Awkward" saw the show's original showrunner depart, with Lauren Iungerich stepping aside after the season ended. It's too bad that the original showrunner couldn't have been kept on somehow, as Iungerich really showed a great deal of promise with the series. "Awkward" may be the title, but the series really has handled teenage issues in a thoughtful and confident manner.

With the last episodes before a new leader was brought in to helm the show, the series still offers some highlights in this third go-around, including: "Responsibly Irresponsible" and "A Little Less Conversation" (In the aftermath of Jenna's pregnancy scare, she confides in Jake instead of Matty, driving Matty away, "Guilt Trippin'" (Jenna stands up for the single girls during homecoming, with a focus on a former childhood friend), "The Bad Seed" (Jenna continues to see Collin, despite warnings; the two nearly get arrested for pot), "Less Than Hero" (Jenna is saved by Matty after she realizes what kind of guy Collin really is) and the finale, "Who I Want to Be".

A few years ago, the network said it wanted to start more positive programming. Several years later, the channel's programming - what's left of it - is worse than it ever was. "Awkward" is something of a bright spot in the idiocy that's stuff like "Snack Off" and having to resort to "gimmicks" in order to extend the "Real World" franchise.

Given the company it shares the network with, I'm doubtful that "Awkward" will last too much longer before it's replaced by another bargain basement reality show. Clearly music is no longer an option and there's less and less original programming on the networks, so at this point, a major change couldn't hurt.

25 3-01 16/Apr/13 Cha-cha-cha-changes
26 3-02 16/Apr/13 Responsibly Irresponsible
27 3-03 23/Apr/13 A Little Less Conversation
28 3-04 30/Apr/13 Let's Talk about Sex
29 3-05 07/May/13 Indecent Exposure
30 3-06 14/May/13 That Girl Strikes Again
31 3-07 21/May/13 Guilt Trippin'
32 3-08 28/May/13 Rubbed Raw and Reeling
33 3-09 04/Jun/13 Reality Check
34 3-10 11/Jun/13 Redefining Jenna
35 3-11 22/Oct/13 Surprise!
36 3-12 29/Oct/13 And Then What Happened
37 3-13 05/Nov/13 Taking Sides
38 3-14 12/Nov/13 The Bad Seed
39 3-15 19/Nov/13 A Very Special Episode of Awkward
40 3-16 19/Nov/13 Less Than Hero
41 3-17 26/Nov/13 The Campaign Fail
42 3-18 03/Dec/13 Old Jenna
43 3-19 10/Dec/13 Karmic Relief (60 min)
44 3-20 17/Dec/13 Who I Want to Be (60 min)

Video/Audio: "Awkward" is once again 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. A few little hints of pixelation were spotted, but the show otherwise remained Noxzema-level clear and smooth. 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: There's a ton of smaller supplements included on this set, including several webisodes (probably not something viewers are going to watch again and again, but they're nicely done and mildly amusing), the "Aftershow" (now even Discovery Channel shows have "aftershows" now....) for the finale, interviews, "fashion" featurette, most "awkward" moments (basically a clip show hosted by members of the cast), music featurette, photo shoot featurette, "Who Do I Want to Be?" featurette and bonus clips (including campaign videos.) Commentaries would have been great (and probably a lot of fun), but there's a lot of little extras that are offered here.

Final Thoughts: "Awkward" is, once again, confident and charming in its third season. While the original showrunner left, hopefully the series won't take too much of a dip in quality. The DVD provides fine audio/video quality, as well as a decent helping of extras. Recommended for those in the target audience.
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