is an live action MTV dramedy
about the life of Jenna Hamilton, a social outcast who gains attention after a misconstrued suicide attempt.
Jenna is a normal, everyday Cool Loser
. She has Amazingly Embarrassing Parents
, who, due to having her in high school
, never quite grew up themselves. She has a crush on popular jock
Matty McKibbon. She hangs out with her two best friends, Tamara Kaplan
and Ming Huang
and tries to avoid the wrath of Sadie Saxton
. Jenna's life changes on the last day of summer camp when she loses her virginity to Matty and then receives an anonymous letter that calls her out on her faults. Jenna's reaction to the back to back humiliation is mistaken for a suicide attempt. Jenna now faces sudden attention and infamy. Jenna decides to take the situation in her own hands and attempts to rework it for the positive. Throughout the first season she navigates being in a secret relationship with Matty while his best friend Jake Rosati
develops a crush on her despite dating Sadie's friend Lissa
. Meanwhile, she tries to figure out who wrote the anonymous letter.
The series premiered July 19, 2011. Despite initially appearing like a Cliché Storm
, it quickly became a sleeper hit, developing a surprising Periphery Demographic
and gaining critical praise, who agreed that it was better than it sounds. The second season aired over the 2012 summer. The show was renewed for a third season which aired in fall 2013. Season 4 started in April 2014.
This Live Action TV Show provides examples of:
- Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Season 2 introduces us to the Asian clique (half-seriously referred to as the Asian mafia), ruled with an iron fist by Becca, a girl who enjoys ambiguous verbal exchanges and Batman Gambits.
- Above the Influence: Subverted with Ming and Fred in the season 3 finale. Ming assumes he wants to have sex with her on prom night, and uses roundabout ways to get him not to, only for him to tell her he doesn't.
- Adorkable: Jake, so much. Jenna lampshades it.
- Mr. Mitra, Valerie's boyfriend.
- Adults Are Useless: So very much. Especially guidance counselor Valerie, who usually ends up making things worse for Jenna by misunderstanding whatever it is Jenna's telling her about.
- Especially noticeable in Se1Ep2 where a nude photo of Jenna is circulated... and it's Jenna who points out that it's illegal, not Valerie.
- Alliterative Name: Matty McKibbon, Sadie Saxton.
- Alpha Bitch: Sadie, an inversion of the usual stick-thin blonde, being a full-figured brunette.
- Always Someone Better: Jenna's thoughts on Olivia aka Jenna Plus. Luckily, she has nothing to worry about.
- Likewise, Jenna feels this way again about Eva in Season 4. She may have something to worry about, if she really does want to pursue a romantic relationship with Matty. Again.
- Heavily implied that this is why Sadie despises Jenna so much. Jenna has her ideal figure, her crush Matty's romantic interest, the mother she's desperately trying to please's respect and, for awhile, her best friend Lissa's friendship.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Jenna's mother still reminisces about her high school popularity. Her implants apparently feel like the real thing, and she'll happily let guests feel for themselves. Her dad is better, but still does some horribly awkward things, such as give his daughter condoms for Christmas.
Lacey: You're embarrassing Jenna.
Jenna: You're both embarrassing Jenna!
- Ming's parents are pretty bad as well.
- Ambiguously Gay: Ming's parents apparently think she's gay, and she does take a girl to the Winter Formal. She apparently is straight, however.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Sadie's boyfriend Austin.
- Anything That Moves: Ricky Schwartz, who has hooked up with girls, boys and possibly Tamara's dog.
- Asian and Nerdy: Ming is a bit of a subversion. Apparently her grades are poor enough that her parents, "doubt that she's actually Chinese."
- Attention Whore: Tamara.
- The Baby Trap: In an Alternate Universe, Jenna pulls one of Jake in order to keep him from dumping her. He figures it out and promptly dumps her...only for to turn out to really be pregnant.
- Bad Bad Acting: Tamara, who is so bad that there's a conspiracy within the drama department to keep her out of shows.
- Beautiful All Along: notably averted with Jenna - Matty notices her the way she is, despite being the jock and she being the 'invisible girl'.
- Beta Couple: Tamara and Ricky Schwartz in seasons 1 and 2. Tamara and Jake in season 3.
- Betty and Veronica: Jenna between Jake (Betty) and Matty (Veronica). Jake between Jenna (Betty) and Lissa (Veronica).
- Bi the Way: Ricky Schwartz
- Apparently Tamara as well.
- Big Man on Campus: Jake and (somewhat) Matty.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Eva, especially when around Sadie. She seems to take delight in bragging about her past exploits and seems to enjoy undermining Sadie as much as Sadie enjoys undermining her. She also makes it seem like Jenna was rude about Matty being in jail and tries to drive a wedge between Jenna and Matty (even going so far as to put her underwear in Jenna's bed to make it seem like they had sex in it). The last one blows up in her face as Jenna quickly realizes that Matty is too decent a person to do such a thing.
- Brick Joke: Clark jokes that he will make out with Sadie's boyfriend. They end up in seven minutes in heaven.
- Blackmail: Jenna blackmails Sadie with her food journal to gets Sadie to get her and her mother inducted into the Knick Knackers
- Guidance Counselor Valerie is promoted to Vice Principal after using a tape containing footage of the VP and Princpal in intimate situations as leverage. Except she had no idea what was on the tape; Becca did, and knew Val would deliver it right to who she wanted to blackmail.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: In season 3, Lissa (blonde), Sadie (brunette), and Tamara (redhead). In season 4, Eva (blonde), Jenna (brunette), and Tamara (redhead).
- Book Ends: When Jenna first receives the letter, her mother gives it to her while talking on the phone and complaining about how Jenna won't style her hair. In season 2, Jenna lets Lacey know that she's figured it out by giving Lacey a letter while she's talking on the phone, happy that Jenna is finally styling her hair.
- The Brainless Beauty: Lacey Hamilton, Lissa.
- Camp Gay: Clark Stevenson.
- Catch Phrase: "You're welcome" is Sadie's tag after any of her brutal comments (which she claims are uncomfortable truths people need to hear). In one episode she becomes her own Phrase Catcher when Jenna blackmails her with personal information and ends the threat with a pitch perfect "You're welcome."
- Jenna briefly has one in a season 2 episode where she thinks of doing over her relationships with Matty and Jake. In her do-over with Matty, she became an Alpha Bitch who would say, "Sorry; I'm not sorry."
- Character Blog: Jenna keeps a running journal of events in her life along with her private thoughts. In Season 1, it's a bit confusing how her specific journal works, as it would seem to be private (no repercussions from things she writes there), but she has people following or subscribing to her through it. The Season 2 premiere establishes the blog had been public for all to read, but no visitors had ever commented (until now). Towards the end of the season, it is publicly talked about by many people and there are HUGE repercussions to everything Jenna has already written, forcing her to go offline and write in an old fashioned pen-and-paper diary to have some private thoughts to herself.
- Character Tics: Matty sniffing his armpits.
- The Cheerleader: Sadie and Lissa.
- The Chessmaster: Becca
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Ming doesn't appear at all in season 4.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Val. Jenna wonders if she has Asperger's syndrome.
- Tamara and Lissa have their moments as well, but compared to Valerie they are completely normal.
- Cool Loser: Jenna. Tamara and Ming, to an extent.
- Dartboard of Hate: The creative writing teacher uses Principal Cox's face for one during class.
- Dawson Casting: In "Indecent Exposure", Tamara says Jenna could easily pass for 25, which might be a subtle Leaning on the Fourth Wall.
- Driven to Suicide: What everyone thinks was the cause of Jenna's accident. It's all a misunderstanding but hardly anyone believes her.
- Dumb Blonde: Valerie, Lissa and Aunt Ally.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Becca got Val to replace the current VP because they were interfering with where she and her friends liked to park.
- Extreme Doormat: Val, who is very easily swayed by her students. She starts to learn though as time goes on, especially in regards to Sadie.
- Fake Guest Star: Jessica Lu and Greer Grammer, who portray Ming and Lissa, respectively.
- Fake Pregnancy: Eva's last ditch plan to manipulate Matty into staying with her. It later came to light that she bribed some other poor girl for her positive pregnancy test.
- Friend Versus Lover: Subverted. Matty's dilemma isn't that Jake and Jenna are fighting over him, rather that Jake is also interested in Jenna and Matty doesn't want to betray his best friend. However, he goes about it the wrong way and ends up losing Jenna to Jake.
- Full-Name Basis: Ming wonders why everyone always refers to Matty by his full name.
- Funny Background Event: In episode 3, you can briefly see Sadie throw the poop into the hot tub.
- The Fun in Funeral: Ricky Schwartz's funeral (or more accurately, his shiva) shows several of his heretofore unknown paintings, including a self portrait of himself as a pimp with several scantily clad women around him and several paintings of women with huge breasts, apparently inspired by his busty female family members, and the fact that he was breastfed until he was 8. Jenna also eats some of the apparently awful-tasting food, which led to her spitting it into a nicely decorated vase...that turned out to by his urn. His candlelight vigil turns into a drunken Wild Teen Party, but not before several girls (and some guys) reveal that he broke their hearts and they hated him.
- Fun with Acronyms: "Crash'd": Counselors Raising Awareness for Students Who-w silent-Drink
- The dialogue itself with things like DTR (Define The Relationship) and BBF (Back-Burner Friend).
- Seems to be Tamara's main style of speaking. Jenna and Ming tend to slip into it too.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Exploited by Jenna and Tamara
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: Becca often speaks to Ming in Chinese.
- High School Sweethearts: Jenna's parents, who got married after a Teen Pregnancy.
- Hippie Teacher: Val, although she is more of a Cloud Cuckoo Lander than hippie, but fits the mold by being a horrible disciplinarian and treating the kids (especially Jenna) like they're her friends.
- Holier Than Thou: Lissa.
- Hollywood Pudgy: Sadie is horribly self-conscious about her weight, and it is treated as somewhat of an Achilles' Heel for her, but she is proportioned very similar to real world young women.
- Honorary Uncle: Aunt Ally
- Humiliation Conga: Jenna goes through several, repeatedly. The most notable is probably "My Super Bittersweet Sixteen" since it takes place on her birthday.
- I Wished You Were Dead: Tamara wished Ricky were dead and even found some spells to cast on him.
- Its Pronounced Tropay: It's Ta-mar-a, not Tam-er-a. Her mother is Tam-er-a.
- Jerk Ass: Sadie, all the way
- Jerk Jock: Averted. For the most part, both Jake and Matty are pretty nice guys.
- Karma Houdini: Sadie often pulls things that really should get her detention, suspension, or even expulsion, almost always without consequences. She eventually gets caught out by Val at the end of Season 1, who tells her that what she did steal and then publish Jenna's letter on the backs of the Winter Formal ballots is an expulsion-worthy offense, but she'll let her off with being banned from the formal. When Sadie ignores her, Val dumps punch on her head while everyone else is looking away.
- Lady Drunk: Aunt Ally. Implied with Lissa's mom.
- Lovable Jock: Matty and Jake
- Love Triangle: Jenna between Matty and Jake. In season 3 there's one between Jenna, Bailey, and Matty.
- Love Dodecahedron: Tamara pines for Ricky Schwartz who dumped her for Sadie who had a crush on Matty, who was having a secret relationship with Jenna who ended up hooking up with Jake after Jake left Lissa for her.
- Another Love Triangle/Dodecahedron was formed in season 3, with Jenna dating Matty, but having fantasies about Collin who already has a girlfriend.
- In season 4, the main love triangle was at first between Matty, Jenna and Eva, then in the second half of the season switches to Matty, Jenna and Gabby.
- Lucky Charms Title: The period at the end.
- Mistaken for Gay: Ming, by her own parents.
- Name's the Same: Jenna and Matty
- No Phones Tonight: Matty and Jake turned their phones off for a 'Bro-be-que'. Thus Matty missed Jenna calling him to come help her.
- One Head Taller: Matty and Jenna.
- Pair the Spares: The season 2 finale with Jake and Tamara.
- Parental Betrayal: The mysterious writer of the letter is revealed to be Jenna's mother.
- Parents as People: Jenna's parents, who may be embarrassing but have a reasonable excuse for their behavior and are genuinely good parents (aside from getting stoned and writing mean anonymous letters that is).
- Passionate Sports Girl: Gabby.
- Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Sadie's preferred method of bullying. She may have learned from her mother (who uses similar comments to get her daughter to lose weight).
- Pet the Dog: Lissa gets some nice moments in the later season 1 episodes, particularly in "Fateful" where she compliments Jenna and finally stands up to Sadie.
- Potty Emergency: Jake really has to go to the bathroom during the night he and Matty spend in jail.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Jenna
- Reassigned to Antarctica: A variant. First Becca has Ming's boyfriend Fred Woo's house redistricted to move him to a different school, then after finding out they're still together, frames him for a cheating scandal, which causes him to be sent to live in Idaho.
- Red Herring: Tamara writing the "care-frontation" letter.
- Rich Bitch: Sadie. Loses the "rich" part in season 3.
- Running Gag: "Fred Woo" "Fred Who?" "Fred Woo!" Gets inverted in "Guilt Trippin'", where Becca initiates it and changes the end to "I didn't really know him, either."
- Sadist Teacher: Jenna's English teacher.
- School Play: Jenna gets the lead role of "Dead Stacy" in "CRASH'D". Jake is her leading man, "Dead Johnny" and Tamara and Ricky Schwartz end up co-starring as "Nick and Natalie".
- Season Fauxnale: The fourth season's mid-season finale definitely seems like it was meant to be the season finale, with Sadie finding out the truth about Eva. This is probably because season 4 originally was planned to have 10 episodes.
- Shout-Out: Jenna's mom and Ben went to a Halloween party as Kid N Play.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: Jake and Tamara in season 3.
- Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy: Played straight with both of Jenna's love interests.
- Shouldn't We Be In Class Right Now: Even though much of the action takes place in school, the characters are rarely actually shown to attend class or do school work.
- Snark Knight: Jenna. Her first reaction is usually sarcastic, but she does try to be nice to people, even to Sadie.
- Stalker with a Crush: Jenna gets one after her supposed suicide attempt. Except it was just a misunderstanding. Or is it?
- Eva towards Matty, as it turns out.
- Strawman U: Invoked Trope in one episode. When Jenna visits her dad's alma mater, she expects to get a "Berserkeley", i.e. a liberal utopia, however, she gets more of a generic state university instead.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome: Matty
- Technical Virgin: Lissa has taken a vow of chastity but is perfectly willing to give Jake hand jobs and even go so far as to offer him anal sex.
- Teen Pregnancy: Jenna is the result of her mother's.
- And in alternate universe, she herself gets one from Jake.
- In season 3, the whole school believes Sadie to be pregnant, and Jenna has a pregnancy scare in the premiere.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: Tamara is convinced that the Drama Department has a conspiracy against her to keep her out of shows. Jenna rolls her eyes at this. Later in the episode, Jenna finds out from Val that this is exactly the case.
- Token Minority: Ming
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Ming and Tamara, with Jenna falling firmly in the middle. She wears skirts and other girly clothes but doesn't put much effort into her appearance outside of a braid or Tomboyish Ponytail.
- Totally Radical: The dialogue occasionally steers into this.
Tamara: "I'm hitting shuffle on this conversation."
- Toxic Friend Influence: When Jenna dates Collin, she tries drugs, alienates all her friends, and even gets Valerie fired.
- Transparent Closet: Clark Stevenson
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: One of the photos taken at Jenna's wild party portrays a guy vomiting.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Sadie is desperate for her mother's approval. While not uncaring, her mother is somewhat cold and isn't sensitive what her daughter is going through.
- What If?: In one episode, Jenna imagines what would happen in 3 scenarios, one in which she actually made Matty ask her out formally at camp, another where she told Jake about Matty, and another where she never went to camp in the first place. They all end badly.
- Wild Teen Party: Jenna throws one in season one. Or, to be more exact, her mother and Aunt Ally throw one and Jenna goes along with it.
- Women Are Wiser: Inverted. Jenna's dad is much wiser than her mother.
- Your Cheating Heart: Ricky Schwartz's main MO.