Awkward Season 3 Review “Who I Want to Be”

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How were we expecting her to react? After last week’s Awkward cliffhanger, we might have thought the show was going to go back down the rabbit hole and lead Jenna into another bout of self-destruction, but it was actually the opposite that happened. This third season finale was perfect in so many ways – as a goodbye to showrunner Lauren Lungerich (and, it has emerged, Jessica Lu as Ming), as a resolution to this darker, more intense year of Awkward and also to the journey we’ve seen our heroine go on throughout the entire show. Things are certainly going to be different when we return for season four.

It’s been clear for a while that Jenna has always needed to identify herself with a certain characteristic or person, and she might finally be over that particularly destructive part of herself. With no Matty, Colin or Jake to define who is right now, we saw how far her need to be defined would go. Her infatuation with Mr Hart’s book and then Mr Hart himself demonstrated not that Jenna needed to escape or distract herself from the freefall her life is in – it was just a placeholder for Matty while he was still unavailable. Knowing Jenna as we do now, she would have gotten bored of her book and cheated on it eventually.

This episode made me most happy because we were able to see Jenna, and the show itself, briefly shed themselves of the continuous romantic plots that have been going on since the first season premiere. To see Jenna dancing alone without needing her friends’ approval, her mother’s acceptance or a boyfriend was brilliant, and by accepting herself as a person away from all of those external features, she may win back all three. Tamara, Jake and Ming are all back on side and her moment of realisation while dancing with Matty signalled to him as much as to the audience that Jenna might actually be willing to change.

Watching her attempt to claw back her life over the last few weeks has been kind of brutal, but it was all worth it to see this finale bring it all together. Every now and again, Awkward attempts to be something much more than the teen sitcom it started as, and it’s in these moments that we realise why we watch so loyally in the first place. The show might be silly and frivolous most of the time, but it’s also a fantastic teen drama with a heroine that’s allowed to be a human being – complete with all the flaws that entails. Jenna is the stereotypical nice girl, but the reality is that she needs as much help to grow up as someone like Sadie.

Now that we know Ming will be departing the series along with Lungerich at the helm, it’s clear that the dynamic is going to have to change. When we return, it’s possible that Matty and Bailey are going to be a fully-fledged ‘thing’ and, with Tamara and Jake most likely still going strong, Jenna is going to be the fifth wheel all over again. We obviously all want them to end up together eventually, but Jenna first has to establish herself as someone away from any guy – including Matty. Season three of Awkward was about making Jenna accept herself for all her flaws, and this finale was a perfect summation of that.

What did you think of the episode, and the season? What was your favourite part? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.