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Awkward. is a live-action MTV dramedy about the life of Jenna Hamilton (Ashley Rickards), 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, 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. After her reaction to the back-to-back humiliation is mistaken for a suicide attempt, she now faces sudden attention and infamy, but she decides to take the situation in her own hands and attempts to rework it for the positive. Throughout the first season, she navigates trying to figure out who wrote the anonymous letter and being in a secret relationship with Matty while his best friend Jake Rosati develops a crush on her despite dating Sadie's friend Lissa.

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The series premiered July 19, 2011. Despite initially appearing steeped in teen drama cliches, it quickly became a Sleeper Hit, developing a surprising Periphery Demographic and gaining critical praise. The fifth and final season aired in the fall of 2015.


This 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.
  • Academic Alpha Bitch: Becca of the Asian Mafia, runs a secret society while maintaining her perfect academic performance.
  • Adults Are Useless:
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    • The staff at the school are well aware of Sadie's extremely bullying. This includes taking and publically posting a nude picture of Jenna and outing a gay student. But they do absolutely nothing to prevent it or reprimand her for it. The only time that Valerie threatens Sadie with consequences happens when she steals the private counsellor files, and instead of going to the principal so they can get rid of her for good, Valerie stupidly tries to hold it over Sadie's head, then takes the file back which Sadie recognises means there's no proof, thus losing her leverage.
    • Jenna's parents are well meaning doofuses who don't really know how to properly relate to Jenna, who is less popular and more introspective than they were, and on several occasions they go way over the top with their punishments, making things worse.
    • Sadie is abandoned by her parents and then they allow her to be adopted by a woman who is clearly unsuitable for the task.
    • Matty's parents kick him out because they find out about him having sex with Jenna.
    • The worst offender is guidance counselor Valerie, who rarely provided straightforward, forthright advice and would often make make things worse for Jenna by misunderstanding whatever it is Jenna's telling her about. In Se1Ep2 where a nude photo of Jenna is circulated. And it's Jenna who points out that it's illegal, not Valerie.
      • Valerie's failures and idiocy is eventually made into a plot point where Jenna reveals all the terrible things she had done, which causes Valerie to be fired. But because the other adults on the show are also stupid, Valerie eventually gets her job back.
    • Ming's parents are stereotypically overbearing Asian helicopter parents, with one example being her mother driving into the school to get her to leave a school function/party. They get better in their final appearance, having giving up their overly strict parenting to allow Ming to have no curfew on prom night.
  • Alliterative Name: Matty McKibbon, Sadie Saxton.
  • Alpha Bitch:
    • Sadie, an inversion of the usual stick-thin blonde, being a full-figured brunette.
    • Jenna herself, in a alternate reality fantasy in "Once upon a blog". She even got her own Catchphrase: "Sorry; I'm not sorry."
    • The Julies of later seasons play it straight, down to being stick-thin blondes.
    • Becca the head of the Asian Mafia is explicitly said to be the Asian version of Sadie, although her tactics are "Asian Bitchy" not "White Bitchy", which is shown to be more about holding & using information rather than outright bullying & abuse. Her tactics are also far more powerful, as Becca is able to arrange the removal of multiple characters.
  • Abusive Parents: Like mother like daughter. Sadie's mother proves to be incredibly emotionally abusive towards her daughter. After she leaves Sadie with her alcoholic aunt for 2-3 seasons (a year, probably), she returns and seems to have moved on from her terrible methods. She gradually regains Sadie's trust, occasionally using Allie for some of the less obvious ploys, and tells Sadie she wants her to meet her boyfriend. Turns out, she only wanted to prove to her boyfriend that she was close to her daughter (she definitely fed him some embellished lies about texting/Skyping/etc Sadie everyday). After Sadie learns about this, she decides to cut her mother out of her life entirely.
    • Jenna's parents kick her out of the house at one point, try to charge her hundreds of dollars in rent and costs because they were angry with her choices and her mother was the one who wrote the letter that sent Jenna into a spiral of depression at the start of the show
  • 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 respect of the mother she's desperately trying to please and, during season 2, 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, the most prominent example being forcing Ming to take a random girl to the Winter Formal because they refuse to let a boy take her.
  • 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. He ends up having to state outright to Sadie that he has issues with recognition of social cues and repeatedly asks her very specific questions that most people would pick up on without issue.
  • 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."
  • Apologises a Lot: The series runs on this trope, particularly during the first 3 seasons with the original showrunner and writing staff.
  • 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.
    • Eva sets up one for for Matty in season 4, with a positive pregnancy test she got from "Whoria Gloria" in exchange for earrings she stole from Matty's Mom.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Tamara, who is so bad that there's a conspiracy within the drama department to keep her out of shows. Later when Val does her after school special it's filed with this, until Jenna recognises that Sadie has done it to target her, and that derails everything into more normal acting.
  • 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. Ming and Fred also become this eventually when Fred returns from his isolation.
  • Big Man on Campus:
    • Matty is the star player on the soccer team, which appears to have pride of place as opposed to a football or basketball team. He is known by everyone in campus.
    • Jake in addition to his role on the team, also repeatedly won elections for class president.
  • 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, such as putting 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 Principal 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).
  • Bookends: 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: Lissa is incredibly stupid and empty headed, but very beautiful.
  • Bully Turned Buddy: After an entire high-school career of being bullied by Sadie, she and Tamara ended up running into each other after college...and became best friends, closer than Tamara and Jenna were. However, this doesn't last forever, as Tamara eventually realizes that Sadie is the same mean person she was in high-school, and breaks their friendship off.
  • Camp Gay: Clark Stevenson. Even while he was in the closet the students simply assumed he was gay because of his mannerisms.
  • Catchphrase: "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.
  • Characterization Marches On: Jenna and Matty's insecure selves in season 1 seem very weird compared to the confidence levels later in the show.
  • The Chessmaster: Becca. She runs the Asian Mafia, knows all the secrets of people at the school and has helpers at her beck and call. She gets Fred sent away and is implied to also have done this to Ming in the Season 4 first episode.
  • Chick Magnet: Matty and Jake. They are constantly being pursued by the women on the show.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Ming doesn't appear at all in Season 4.
  • Closet Gay: Clark, who remains in his Transparent Closet until he is Forced Outofthe Closet by Sadie outing him. Unlike her other targets, Clark seems to take this pretty well and it doesn't cause him much of an issue.
  • 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 becomes this when her relationships with Matty & Jake become public. This also helps Tamara elevate her position at the school, which grows even more than Jenna's does due to her relationship with Jake, to the point that she defeats Jake for the Class President position. Ming has some of the popularity from Tamara & Jenna rub off on her but it comes into full view when she takes over the Asian Mafia.
  • Country Matters: The girls describe Sadie as a "See You Next Tuesday" to a new student.
  • Crying at Your Birthday Party: Played with. Jenna was revealed to have been sobbing on her bed during her surprise birthday party in the third season... because she herself ruined the party by wandering into the room while cheating on Matty with Collin.
  • Dartboard of Hate: The creative writing teacher uses Principal Cox's face for one during class.
  • Deliberate Under-Performance: Once Ming makes good with the Asian Mafia, the leader Becca gives her a cheat-sheet for the next test...but she only gets a B. Becca explains that if they gave her a perfect cheat-sheet, it'd look a lot more suspicious to everyone, so they're keeping her slightly above-average.
  • Driven to Suicide: What everyone thinks was the cause of Jenna's accident. It's all a misunderstanding but hardly anyone believes her.
  • Dude Magnet: Jenna. Almost every male character around her age on the show is shown to take at least some interest in her.
  • Dumb Blonde: Valerie, Lissa, and Aunt Ally. They all exhibit brainless, idiotic behaviour, like Ally drugging Jenna, Valerie's moronic advice and Lissa being incapable of following basic instructions.
  • 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.
    • Jenna pulls one on Jake in a fantasy scenario in season 2, only to actually end up pregnant.
  • Flanderization: When the show began, Ricky Schwartz was a kind of perverted band geek. By his death in season 3 he was an almost psychotic Anything That Moves sex addict who was obsessed with breasts.
    • Kyle was introduced as bizarre loner who may have a thing for Jenna because of her suicide stigma. By the end he was a complete loser who was obsessed with Jenna, bordering on Stalker with a Crush.
    • The Julies were originally just snobby girls. They eventually replaced Sadie and Lissa as the Alpha Bitches of the school, but without the subtly and depths that the other two had.
    • Sadie's mother was introduced as a cold but classy woman who loved her daughter but had little understanding for her life. By the end she had become a heartless Rich Bitch who was pretending to love Sadie as a means to secure a rich husband.
  • Forced Outofthe Closet: Clark has this happen to him when Sadie outs him as one of her usual bitchy bullying moves.
  • 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.
  • Freudian Excuse: Sadie the Rich Bitch is eventually shown to be treated poorly by her parents, who are disappointed in her because of her weight and later she is abandoned by them, loses the money that keeps her friends on her side.
  • 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.
    • In season 2, Matty habitually smacks Jenna's behind despite her dating Jake and freaks out in the background.
  • 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.
  • Girls Like Musicians:
    • Secondary love-interest Jake was a laid-back Nice Guy, who, fittingly, played the guitar and even had a short musical career. He has managed to attract four different girls over the course of the series.
    • For a brief time, Jenna had a fling with a boy named Owen, who's main character trait was being a talented and dedicated classical pianist. She even met him while he was playing, and their relationship was based on their supposed shared interest in music- with Jenna pretending to understand his jargon.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Exploited by Jenna and Tamara while performing in "Crash'd". Colin tries to get this going with his attempt to drag Jenna into a threesome with Angelique.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Becca often speaks to Ming in Chinese.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jenna and Tamara, Jake and Matty. If they fight it rarely resulted in any long-term separation and they remain friends throughout high school.
  • Hidden Depths: Zigzagged with Sadie. Most days Sadie is the classic Alpha Bitch, and even after her family losing their money and all the other troubles that come her way, she still retains her bitchy attitude. She occasionally gets Pet the Dog moments, but even then, she stays the aggressive, hostile, and conceited soul she always has been.
    • Tamara also counts. Despite her being very ditzy and driven by the urge to be popular, she's actually a good student, ranking #17 of her year, while Jenna for example is only #137.
  • High-School Dance: Granted, since the show is set in a high school. Seasons 1, 3 and 5 have at least one episode set at a Dance.
  • 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, who attends bible camp and regularly espouses Christian beliefs.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Matty and Jake have this at such power that the show itself Lampshaded it no less than three times.
  • Honorary Uncle: Aunt Ally, who was best friends with Jenna's mom is treated like this.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass: Sadie, all the way. She is a classic high school Rich Bitch, treating both students and teachers with contempt, non-stop bullying her classmates, scheming to hurt them, showing up in places just to make other people feel bad.
  • Jerk Jock: Averted. For the most part, both Jake and Matty are pretty nice guys.
  • Karma Houdini: Sadie's vicious bullying sees her do things that should get her detention, suspensions, expulsion or even arrested by the Police (secretly taking nude photos of Jenna who is a minor, and distributing them) but she never sees any consequences for her actions. The closest thing that she gets to a comeuppance is having Val dump a bowl of punch on her, but no-one notices since they aren't watching them, and that came after Sadie managed to get away with the expulsion level offence of stealing confidential counselling notes because Val had taken them back in secret, leaving her with no evidence that Sadie had done it.
  • Lady Drunk: Aunt Ally. Implied with Lissa's mom.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Matty for Jenna, to the point that he becomes much more monogamous in general when they break up in hope of recapturing that magic with someone else.
    • Ricky Schwartz for Sadie in season 2, only for him to eventually tire of her just like all his other interests.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: Seasons 4 and 5, when Creator Lauren Iungerich left the show and new showrunners were brought on, which changed the show towards a more stereotypical high school show. The plots have become increasingly soapy and dramatic.
  • Lovable Jock: Matty and Jake. They are both lettermen on the soccer squad, with Matty in particular apparently a star level player for the team.
  • 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. At the end of season 4 it gets more complicated as Jake and Gabby hook up, and Matty realizes he still loves Jenna, only for her to begin dating Brian.
  • Lucky Charms Title: The period at the end.
  • Missing Mom: Darlene, Sadie's mom. For an entire two seasons. When she comes back, it's not much better.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Ming maks remarks early in the shows run that her clothing choices and demeanour have caused her parents to think she might be a lesbian.
  • Monochrome Casting: The show is overwhelmingly white. The only major character of color in the first three seasons is Ming, with some supporting Asian characters for the Asian Mafia story, which also happened to be Ming's sole storyline focus in her three seasons. After Ming is Put on a Bus there's only a couple Tokens like Gabby.
  • Nominated as a Prank: The nerdy, awkward, unpopular Kyle was nominated as part of Prom Court as a potential King, along with Jenna as a potential Queen, both as joke votes. While Jenna caught onto the joke almost immediately, Kyle legitimately thought people might vote for him, building up to an eventual, cruel heartbreak when he didn't win. Then Matty, who actually won, lied and claimed that Kyle won, allowing Kyle to be the Prom King.
  • New Year's Kiss: In "Auld Lang Party," the broken-up Jenna and Matty make a pact to defy this trope by promising that they won't hook up with anybody at the New Year's party, trying to start the year with a clean slate. However, due to a misunderstanding where Jenna thinks Matt's off with an "older woman" (he's really spending the night with his mom), she breaks the pact by making out with a piano player named Owen.
  • One Head Taller: Matty is one head taller than Jenna.
  • One-Word Title: The title is about the awkwardness of being a social outcast after a suicide attempt.
  • Overly Specific Afterlife: Played for Laughs, when gay couple Theo and Cole tell the religious-but-questioning Lyssa that gay people don't go to hell- they go to gay heaven. She freaks out over "how many heavens there are", and wonders whether or not bisexuals "go back and forth" between gay and straight heaven.
  • Pair the Spares: The Season 2 finale with Jake and Tamara hooking up while the show's main pairing of Matty & Jenna continues to burn.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Matty and Sadie once she gets over her crush on him.
  • Potty Emergency: Jake really has to go to the bathroom during the night he and Matty spend in jail.
  • Prom Wrecker: Heartbroken after a breakup, Tamara attempts to convince her classmates to not only skip prom, but to revolt against it, up to and including publicly denouncing the very concept of prom over megaphone. However, when Jenna decides to ask her, Tamara breaks character, revealing she really did want to go to prom.
  • Put on the Bus: Ming, starting with season 4. It's implied the Asian mafia is responsible for this.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The season 3 episode "And Then What Happened" has a variation on this as everyone tries to piece together what is going on with Jenna and Matty following her surprise party. It differs from the usual trope as the story is mostly the same, with everyone adding to the details rather than their perspective, but there are small differences in each person's version and parts where their memories get foggy.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Jenna, with her dark hair and very light skin.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica:
    • A variant. First Becca has Ming's boyfriend Fred Wu's house re-districted 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.
    • Ming herself apparently has this happen to her as a way to write her off the show at the start of Season 4.
  • Red Herring: Tamara writing the "care-frontation" letter.
  • Relationship Revolving Door: Jenna and Matty's relationship. Although they were only officially together in season 2, their relationship kept going through the same stages: Jenna/Matty realizes they're still in love. However, one of them is beginning to be involved with someone else. They briefly flirt with getting back together. Jenna then does something to mess it up. The other party ends up breaking up with the other person. Repeat next season.
  • Rich Bitch: Sadie. She loses the "rich" part in Season 3 then gains it back due to becoming a social media influencer.
  • Running Gag: "Fred Wu" "Fred Who?" "Fred Wu!" Gets inverted in "Guilt Trippin'," where Becca initiates it and changes the end to: "I didn't really know him, either."
  • Sadist Teacher: Mr. Hart, Jenna's creative writing teacher. He literally introduces the students to his class by declaring half of them will quit, and that he will figuratively "torture" them.
  • 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.
  • Senior Year Struggles: The penultimate season involves Jenna and her friends having their Senior Year. Highlights include Jenna ruining the Senior Prank by being too eager, she and the others figuring out where they want to go after high-school, and a disastrous Senior Movie Night featuring a showing of Pink Flamingos. Jenna also spends the entire year trying to finally resolve her relationship with Matty before both of them have to leave for college.
  • Sexiness Score: In "Bonfire of the Vanities", Jenna and Tamara find out the boys have a girl-rating list known as the "Phone Book" and they use area codes to rate each girl, such as a "Michigan" being a "989" and an "Allentown" being "484". The three digits are for Face, Boobs and Butt. Jenna becomes very hurt and upset when she learns Matty was the one who rated her, way back when they started seeing each other.
  • 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 Jenna's love interests, Jake and Matty.
  • 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.
  • Take That!: In the first episode when Jenna is losing her virginity to Matty her voiceover states that "This isn't the story of how I got knocked up at summer camp. I knew better than to bareback it." This could be a take that to The Secret Life of the American Teenager, which was a popular show at the time the pilot aired about a teen girl who gets pregnant when she loses her virginity at summer camp. Despite its premise, Secret Life came across as very anti-sex while Awkward. is very sex positive.
  • 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.
    • Eva says she's pregnant with Matty's baby in season 4 only for it to turn out to be a Fake Pregnancy.
      • Instead, it's minor character "Whoria" Gloria whose positive pregnancy test was used by Eva
  • 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.
  • Those Two Guys: Cole & Theo, and Jake & Matty both spend an extremely
  • Token Minority: Ming in seasons 1-3. Gabby in seasons 4-5.
  • 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.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Jenna in season 3. She gets better but never does a full back pedal to her original niceness.
    • Jake in season 4.
  • 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. There's also a subversion from the usual trope of the peer pressuring bad influence, which is that Colin points out to Jenna that he never forced her into anything as she took those actions herself willingly.
  • Transparent Closet: Clark Stevenson. When he wasn't out of the closest everyone simply agreed he was gay, and then when he was outed very little actually changed.
  • 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.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Jenna and Matty go through this, then hook up, then break up, and go through it all again.
  • 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. Colin helps host a much more sophisticated, but still wild, party with his old private school friends that Jenna ends up attending.
  • Women Are Wiser: Inverted. Jenna's dad is much wiser than her mother.
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