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Ashley Rickards as Jenna Hamilton in <em>Awkward.</em>
Ashley Rickards as Jenna Hamilton in Awkward.

Awkward., Season 4: TV review

With the departure of its creator, the new season of Awkward. embraces change

Written by
Jessica Johnson

Premieres Tuesday, April 15 at 9pm on MTV.

Television is largely considered to be a writer's medium and so, when the creator of a series leaves, it can cause a bit of a stir. This is the awkward position the appropriately named MTV sitcom Awkward. has found itself in following the departure of showrunner Lauren Iungerich. Former 90210 producers Chris Alberghini and Mike Chessler attempt to pick up the reins and usher the teen comedy's characters into their senior year of high school.

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When we last left the perpetually lovelorn Jenna Hamilton (Ashley Rickards) she had made the tough decision to let her former paramour Matty McKibben (Beau Mirchoff) go and embrace being single. After three years of watching Jenna fret over whom she should be dating, it was refreshing to see her finally focus on herself. As its fourth season begins, we discover that Jenna's focus on her tumultuous love life has had quite an impact on her academic career. When the senior class ranking are released, she finds herself at a dismal No. 137, with a lot of ground to make up if she's going to be able to get into college. After this wake-up call, Jenna commits herself to making up for her missteps by applying herself in school and finally participating in some extracurricular activities. But, of course, the siren song of Matty McKibben calls again, threatening to derail her newly found focus.

While Awkward. has done many things right in its three years, acting as a comedic second-coming of My So-Called Life, its laser focus on Jenna's various romantic relationships began to wear a bit thin. While her pals joined clubs, sports and student government, Jenna's sole extracurricular activity appeared to be getting busy with her boyfriends. It's nice to see that Awkward. is finally taking note of this failing and forcing its heroine to take some responsibility for her future.

Jenna's academic failings aren't the only new elements in Awkward.'s senior year. The departure of Jessica Lu's Ming leaves a hole in Jenna's friend trio that looks to be filled by hip new girl Eva (Elizabeth Whitson). With every entrance punctuated by pop music not so subtely telling you how awesome she is, Eva seems far more worldly than the other students at Palos Hills, offering Jenna advice on straightening out her life path and giving a super-stressed Tamara tips on discovering her elusive orgasm.

Under its new leadership, Awkward. is embracing change, while still retaining its spirited sense of humor.

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