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'Awkward.' fan react: Looking forward to looking back

Season 5 | Episode 15 | “The Friend Connection” | Aired Mar 29, 2016

Normally, I’d be up in arms with Jenna for backsliding with her ex, but I’m feeling generous with Awkward. Instead of grieving for simpler times when everyone got along, I’m rolling with the punches, something Jenna struggles to do in “The Friend Connection.”

Awkward. tries something new with this fast-forwarded, mixed-up back half of season five. And that something new is playing with the character dynamics. We’ve never seen Tamara interact with Sadie, and vice versa, without copious amounts of shade, and we’ve never seen Jenna and Tamara so divided.

Watching Tamara continuously nudge Jenna to the back burner has been rough, especially since they seem to need each other now more than ever. Tamara’s credit cards are being declined as a result of blindly climbing the social ladder, while Jenna juggles her editorial fellowship with her first intra-office affair. Major potential meltdowns, party of two.

But Tamara has a birthday party to throw for Sadie and bankrolling bachelors to flirt with, leaving zero time for Jenna. (Even Lissa had to elbow her way in to get face time with Sadie.) I might be hard on Jenna for minimizing her voice and being flowered to the wall when she should be advocating for her feelings, but she genuinely wanted to catch up with her best friend. And, of course, grab some advice where she could get it.

Jenna feels insecure about her standing within the Ideabin office, being one of the only fellows who has yet to be published on the site. She alienates herself (as much as she is shoved by her peers) to the outskirts of the office social scene because she isn’t pulling her weight. What’s different about Jenna’s plight in this circumstance is that she actively attempted to change her position.

Finally, she’s using her voice and striking up small talk with her distant wrangler, Ethan, and her instantly beloved cohort, Ophelia. But her efforts aren’t being rewarded. By anyone. Except Luke.

After hooking up on the Ideabin couch after hours and narrowly evading being caught by their boss, Jenna and Luke don’t immediately define their relationship. For once, Jenna revels in having the upper hand in an adult relationship in whichever form it may end up taking. She initially plays it cool, saying sleeping together wasn’t a big deal, when in reality she was covering up her conflicted feelings for him. She doesn’t want drama, but here it is, being served to her on a handsome, mature platter.

Even though Awkward. has a long history of intermixing characters and throwing them back together to test the waters (see also: Lissa and Jake, Jenna and Jake, Tamara and Jake, etc.), something about Jenna and Luke’s second round is rubbing me the wrong way.

It’s not because I think they don’t work as a couple. They do. Now that Jenna is not the flopping high school fish-out-of-water to Luke’s holier-than-thou undergrad, the playing field is evened. They’re equals. They fit together better than ever, but my concern lies with the Matty of it all.

He might be long gone from Jenna’s heart, but in no way, shape, or form has Matty been forgotten. How can he be when Sully, his sloppy rando of a girlfriend, causes a scene wherever she goes? The way Jenna and Matty are each biding their time is the complete antithesis of the other: Jenna and the sexy intellectual with all of his sh-t together and accounted for; Matty and the wild partier who throws champagne bottles in place of hitting the books.

The tragedy within all of this madness is that they are all looking forward to these mistakes. Looking forward to looking back on who they were in the past, who they connected with long ago, or who they thought they should be—and thrusting those ghosts into present tense. Because in that fit of romantic, youthful passion, you don’t know what mistakes are in the moment. They’re only choices.

Jenna will learn in time if restoking the fire with Luke is the right choice, just as Tamara will learn that pushing Jenna away was a misstep. One foot in front of the other, and someday soon they will look forward to looking back on these hazy, crazy, cringeworthy days of reckless abandon.

Awkward. airs Tuesdays at 10/9C on MTV.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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