Friday, July 22, 2011

Pilot Review: Awkward

Awkward (MTV)
Premiered Jul 19 at 11pm

In the past, I’ve hesitated to review programs broadcast by MTV, especially since those I have watched, such as “Skins” and “Teen Wolf,” have proved to be less than appealing. I was unimpressed by the commercial advertisements I had seen for “Awkward” while watching TV aboard a couple of JetBlue flights recently, and it’s only out of slight curiosity and a desire to cover everything that I actually sat down to watch the pilot. It’s rather generic and immature at most times, with starkly defined characters straight out of the “Mean Girls” archetype, which actually dates back much earlier than the popular 2004 movie. Positively, Ashley Rickards is an able lead who manages to infuse some humor into a familiar situation and appropriately convey disinterested teen angst. The show managed to surprise me a bit by the end of its initial installment with a more generally optimistic and heartwarming outlook on the situation, but that still doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good show. It’s rather deadpan in most of its humor but also highly prone to exaggeration for comedic effect. The character of guidance counselor Valerie Marks, played by Desi Lydic, for instance, is more than a bit over-the-top, and while she’s occasionally funny, it’s in more of a general sense than her actually having any laugh-out-loud lines. I don’t see much potential in this show, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be as awful as it could be. It almost doesn’t mean I’m going to be watching.

How will it work as a series? The arm-raised cast gimmick can’t last long, but now that Jenna has been noticed, she’ll have an interesting rollercoaster of a time climbing the social ladder and getting knocked down again and again. It may not be new territory, but having two potential love interests shouldn’t hurt this show made very particularly for its audience.
How long will it last? The ratings for the pilot were strong, and I imagine that it will catch on quick. “Skins” didn’t last long because of its controversial content, and I imagine that this one will follow in the footsteps on “Teen Wolf,” earning a renewal sometime fairly soon as it increases in popularity.

Pilot grade: C

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