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TV Review: Awkward. – “Queen Bee-atches”

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In this week’s episode of MTV’s Awkward., “Queen Bee-atches,” Jenna (Ashley Richards) attempts to help her mother, Lacey (Nikki Deloach), get into a high profile charity club run by Darlene Saxton (Heather Mazur, Crash). Yep, that’s Saxton, as in Sadie Saxton’s (Molly Tarvlov) mother. Things don’t look good for Lacey’s admittance until Jenna finds Sadie’s food journal and gains some leverage. Also, while working the recruitment event, Jake (Brett Davern) tells Matty (Beau Mirchoff) about kissing Jenna. While Matty doesn’t reveal his own personal bond with her, the competition between the two is starting.

Awkward.‘s quality has been top notch so far in this freshman season, but “Queen Bee-atches” really achieves pitch perfectness. It is the story of several characters, and how they deal with their insecurities. Jenna, of course, is the main girl, and she is really finding herself as she emerges from her shell. This week, she is given some really great dirt on Sadie, but is too sweet to use it for anything more than to help Lacey. It shows strength of character advanced for such a young girl, and is done in a totally realistic way. For instance, Jenna begins to feel charitable, seeing Sadie’s inner pain laid bare on the page. Then Jenna turns to the next entry and finds a mean comment about herself, sparking anger all over again. She’s only human, after all.

Sadie is becoming likeable, albeit just behind closed doors. She may not have written the letter to help Jenna, as Jenna suspects early in “Queen Bee-atches,” but Sadie is trying to deal with some serious turmoil. In high school, it is no secret that many people feel like they must be popular, well liked, and great looking in order to have self-esteem. Sadie is in this trap, concerned with her appearance. She’s furious at herself for giving into the cravings the make her heavy, as well as genetics that don’t do her any favors. But while breaking down in tears to her mother, it’s hard not to feel her very real pain. No wonder she’s so mean! Plus, Sadie gets straight A’s, so there is definitely more to her than her looks, which aren’t bad in the first place.

Again, kudos must be given to Tarvlov for the bold, brave way she tackles the complicated character,  as well as her hilarious physical humor. Hopefully Jenna will eventually help Sadie see her good features, since Jenna is the only one likely to offer a kind word now and then to the “Queen Bee-atch.”

I didn’t initially like Lacey. She’s an adult acting like a child. But stop and think for a moment about how teen pregnancy robs a girl of her youth, and there is readily something more than pathetic desperation apparent in Lacey’s attempts to fit in. Wanting to join the charity club is her way of making up for missing those formative social experiences. Sure, it is misguided, and she sort of uses her daughter, wrangling Jenna to participate in something she has no interest in. But there is real love between the two. Not only that, but when Lacey learns she is accepted only as a charity case, she sets a great example by not sticking around. She’s not a push over, and now one begins to see that Lacey actually gave Jenna some fine personality traits. Here’s a strange, off-the-wall musing: might Lacey have written the mysterious letter?

The dynamic between Matty and Jake in Awkward. is hilarious in this episode! Matty clearly has some real feelings for Jenna, even if he’s struggling with what dating her might do to his image. Jake doesn’t care as much what others think, but is torn because he still has a girlfriend, Lissa (Greer Grammer). As Jake talks with Matty, both understand they want Jenna and would be lucky to have her. And they are pretty funny, spilling all that alcohol.

I don’t think that Matty is willing to take the leap yet of a public relationship with Jenna, but Jake looks to be seriously considering moving on from Lissa. It’s a jerk move to want to talk about feelings with Jenna before breaking it off with Lissa, whom he isn’t in love with. But teen boys can be jerks, and still be good guys at heart. It’s the jerkishness of Jake’s actions, his own weakness, that keep viewers torn between Jake and Matty, both of whom have their pluses and minuses.

It is not often I watch a half hour of television and can not find at least one small criticism. Yet Awkward. achieves this feat. I am blown away by the talent that creator Lauren Iungerich, the cast, and the crew have to put together such a consistently amazing show. I generally like to focus on the positives in my reviews, and then toss in a couple of things that could be improved. I have no such remarks to make about “Queen Bee-atches.” It’s all good.

If you are not watching Awkward., which airs on MTV Tuesday nights at 11 p.m. ET, you are missing one of the absolute best series currently on television. Do yourself a favor and correct that.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com