Pick Me, Choose Me, Love Me
After a few adequate to mediocre episodes, Season 2 of Awkward. delivered one of the best outings of the show’s short existence with “Pick, Me, Choose Me, Love Me.” This episode may have more to do with Jake and/or Matty wanting Jenna’s affection, but those of us who’ve seen Grey’s Anatomy likely recognize those words as part of Meredith’s plea for Derek to choose her over Addison. I guess this makes me Team Mattison!
Last week, Jenna made her private blog public as a way to help Jake understand what was going on between her and Matty, but her decision had some unexpected consequences. First off, she humiliated those she cared about most by airing her dirty laundry, but something even odder happened; her blog made her a celebrity. Apparently, her lifestory was tawdry and entertaining enough that she somehow turned into a arbiter of taste and an expert in love. Ironic, right? Not only were people asking for her advice, but the school also turned into a battleground between Team Matty and Team Jake, and whichever move she made was going to be witnessed by everyone.
It wasn’t clear at the end of that episode where exactly the show was heading, but “Pick Me, Choose Me, Love Me” wastes no time clarifying that everyone in the school is reading Jenna’s blog. The episode turns the high school into a proxy for the viewers at home, with the various students drafting into either Team Jake or Team Matty and picking up Tamara’s slang. Lauren Iungerich’s script has some fun with this parallel, mapping the audience’s engagement with the series onto the kids in the high school, and it allows both Jenna and Tamara to experience a brush with fame. Jenna becomes almost like a reality television star, someone famous for being herself and someone who becomes a tastemaker based solely on her good spelling and her complicated, compelling existence.
While Jenna’s blowback was nonexistent, the blowup wasn’t. The entire school rallied around her story. Everyone had his/her opinions. Jenna went from little known to well known, and Tamara and Ming basked in the proxy popularity. All of it, though, was just a ploy to take our focus away from Lacey after we saw some kids giving her grief over writing the letter.
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Awkward S02E10: Pick Me, Choose Me, Love Me
Even though the main issue of the season was the love triangle, the drama with Jenna’s parents is never far outside the spotlight. I understand that family drama like this is nothing far from the norm, but it has been ten episodes and I still don’t really feel like it fits in the show at all. So for better or worse, the issues are finally being resolved, starting with a post-shower scene. That’s one way to resolve the problem, I guess, but it seemed way too simplistic of an out, and definitely rather abrupt in the sense of: “Um… We don’t really know where to go with this, so we’re just going to wrap it up now.” I’d like to pretend this was like the first season of Fringe in which they chose to sweep a storyline under the rug after acknowledging it didn’t really work, but honestly I doubt this recognition was the consensus among the writers. Maybe this was actually the plan all along.
Jenna’s blog not only affected her life at school, but also her life at home. Since she wrote about the whole care-frontation debacle, everyone knew about what Lacey did, and she was getting an earful from those who thought she was a horrible monster. Much to her credit, Lacey did not get mad at Jenna for exposing her actions because she knew that she deserved whatever was being thrown at her, and she repented for what she did. By the end of the episode, we found out why Lacey wrote the letter and how she’s not as bad of a person as we first thought.
Once Jenna gains this perspective, she realizes the “choice” she needs to make is not the one that has people in teams, but rather the one that reaffirms her love for her mother. It’s not forgiveness, necessarily, so much as an understanding, here shared through a beautiful lullaby as the camera slowly pulls back. For every part of the school storyline that felt unmoored from the show’s reality, the home material offered a highlight for the season, and its impact was perhaps greater, given the contrast with the spectacle on display at the school.
It’s unconditional love when one parent is willing to sacrifice that much for their child, letting themselves be negatively impacted if it means their kids are better off. Lacey recognized that Jenna would benefit most from two parents versus one, and she willingly let Kevin use everything she had developed with Jenna so he wouldn’t run out or begin to detach from Jenna when he held her. Nothing was off the table.
But enough of that serious nonsense; the real reason I want to talk about Valerie is to bring up some of the smaller character details of the episode. The more obvious one is that she named her memoir My Val-ues, which is pretty genius for a title to what I can only assume is an extremely entertaining read, whether intentional or not. But my favorite moment of the episode actually has to be when she showed up to the teacher-less French class wearing a beret. I like to think that she has a closet full of pieces like this specific to each subject in the school just in case a moment like this would arise. Whether or not anyone else really notices it is irrelevant, it is simple something she probably does that makes her happy. Goodness I really hope she has a calculator watch for Math classes…
“Pick Me, Choose Me, Love Me” walks a delicate tightrope between clever and contrived, at times overemphasizing the show’s occasionally cartoonish moments within the broader framework of the narrative. However, by the end of the episode, it doesn’t feel like their presence has dramatically changed how the characters plan on acting. When the episode ends, it’s just Jenna and Lacey singing one another a lullaby, and the chorus of commenters is left to engage from afar. It’s a sign that however public or rampant the love triangle might become, it’s never going to invade the parts of the show that provide it with emotional depth, depth that reaches a season high point in this episode.
After the last episode, I felt myself reaching my limits in regards to the love triangle, but I ended up caring again by the end of the half-hour because I was reminded of why I got invested in the first place. I liked some of these people and the fate of their lovelives. Dang you Awkward. for sucking me back in … for now. What about everyone else? Were you glad to see Matty and Jake back together? How did you feel about Lacey once the episode was over? Let us know in the comments section.
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