I have a problem. I watch crappy TV. It's a guilty pleasure... I just love so many shitty shows. Made for TV movies, reality shows, game shows, even infomercials. And I regularly watch MTV. Still. (Even though we can all agree that the "music" part of their name is absolutely a lie.)
In watching MTV, I often see the crappiest TV of all. When I heard of "Awkward" I thought it would be like that. However, having watched quite a few episodes now, I think it's safe to say that Awkward isn't the worst thing teen girls could ever see. Here's the premise:
The series is based around social outcast Jenna Hamilton who, following an accident that rumors misconstrue as a suicide attempt, starts being noticed by all the students at her school. By making changes and embracing her misfortune, she becomes well-known by her peers. While having to deal with a new, not-so-fun stigma, she still has to manage the daily drama that comes with being a teenager.
I missed the pilot, but when I tuned in Jenna was definitely dealing with the fallout of what everyone assumed was a suicide attempt. It definitely was awkward. But that's not what interests me about the show. There are a few plot points here and there that are infusing atypically reasonable messages for girls. Here are a couple of examples:
- Jenna accidentally hooks up with her best friend's crush. The best friend treats Jenna like crap for a few days, but then realizes that she had let the guy off too easy and took all her anger out on Jenna. Message: Sisters before misters.
- Jenna's bully, Sadie, is not thin. Instead of simply making the butt of all jokes about her size, an episode highlights how very low Sadie's self-esteem is and how her mom makes her keep a food journal and puts pressure on her to lose weight. Message 1: Bullies have their own stuff going on. Their mistreatment of other people usually comes from a deep place of insecurity. Message 2: Putting your kid on a diet and scrutinizing their weight really messes them up.
- Throughout the series so far, Jenna has been trying to get the guy of her dreams. In the most recent episode, she realized that her crushing dissatisfaction with herself was holding her back. Message: You've got to love yourself before you're ready to love others.
- Jenna's parents had her when they were teenagers. They are often very misguided, although well meaning. But overall they are a loving, supportive family. Message: Being a teen parent isn't the worst thing you could ever do.
Overall, the story is Jenna just trying to figure it out, and even though I'm much closer to the age of the out of touch over bearing guidance counselor, I could relate to it. It's not a heady show. It's definitely a guilty pleasure, but at the end of the day teens could be watching something much worse. Like Jersey Shore.