The thing about Awkward. is its complete un-frilling, un-dramatized look at what it means to be young and in search of love: no one’s pregnant, no one’s being stalked, no one’s turning into an animal… and yet that’s where its charm lies. Jenna Hamilton (portrayed fantastically by Ashley Rickards) is wonderfully average, only pained by the fact that she’s head-over-heels in like with two guys: the pensive stud Matty McKibben (Beau Mirchoff) and the endearingly charming Jake Rosati (Brett Davern). And they both find themselves in like with her, too: the conundrum is in Matty’s fear of those social circles, and if the quietly lovely Jenna is worth stepping outside of them.
The removal of such sensationalized drama only leaves room for scripts packed with comedic punch, a fantastically invented dictionary of phrases like “brillz” (brilliant) and “DTR” (defining the relationship) that make Awkward. colorfully zany yet still palpable, and Awkward.’s complete nonchalance towards the apparently crucial dark tones that must accompany young series has done something refreshing, something no show has managed this successfully in some time: make TV high school seem like a real place. The line between cool and uncool isn’t so drastically drawn: even the downtrodden underdogs (including Jenna’s best partner in crime, played by Jillian Rose Reed) are swapping spit with hotties, the winners have unshakeable crushes on the losers, the mean girl (standout actress Molly Tarlov) is unintentionally hilarious and intentionally flawed. The wonder of Awkward. is the implausibility of how it manages to be extraordinary in each of its ordinary feats.