I visited the Awkward set recently to chat with some of the actors about the season so far, with just enough juicy information to tide viewers over until it picks back up again in a few months. Here’s what Brett Davern (Jake), Molly Tarlov (Sadie), Jillian Rose Reed (Tamara), Jessica Lu (Ming), Nikki DeLoach (Lacey), Mike Faiola (Kevin), and Desi Lydic (Val) had to say about the first half of Awkward’s third season.
2. Jake and Tamara show what a good relationship should be.
Jenna could probably learn a little something from her best friend and her ex-boyfriend. “I think the thing that’s great about Jake and Tamara’s relationship is that it’s a relationship that not only people in real life but also Jenna can look to as an example of ‘just ‘cause there’s a bump in the road doesn’t mean you necessarily have to run,’” Brett Davern noted. “So I think they’re kind of a good example for Jenna and Matty.”
3. But when Jake and Tamara do hit bumps, they’re big bumps.
“Tamara and Jake are both emotional people, so when they have a bump, it’s a bump,” Davern said. Or as Jillian Rose Reed put it, “The way that they fight is very escalated, but they’ve made it through these little bumps in the road so far, so hopefully they can make it through the rest of the season.” Both cautioned that there will be at least one major bump in the second half of the season.
4. It’s good that Jake is taken, because he’s terrible at being single.
Remember when Jake was a lone wolf for all of five minutes? Davern does, with some fondness. “I was really excited when they threw in all that stuff last year about Jake being single and getting girls’ numbers,” he said. “I think he spent three scenes being a little player.” But alas, Jake is a serial monogamist, as he admitted to Jenna. “It’s his nature to be in a relationship,” Davern continued. “He’s just that way.”
5. Speaking of relationships, Sadie is due for another one.
We only met Austin briefly, but he did ask for Sadie’s number. Could he be her future beau? “He’s a bit odd,” Molly Tarlov said. “He apparently has a crush on Sadie, and he’s pursuing her. … She’s scared to let her guard down again, because of that darn Ricky Schwartz.” And while Sadie may act like she’s over Ricky’s betrayal and death, there’s a lot she’s not showing on the surface. Classic Sadie.
6. And single people like Val need sex too.
“I think Val needs to get some,” Desi Lydic said. “It’s been a while, and it’s pent up. She’s ready to go. I think she is just a tiger in the sack. I feel like she’s really, really good in bed. Like you wouldn’t think so, but I think she is out of control in bed. I believe that. I want to believe that about her. And I think she owns a water bed, which would make things interesting. Maybe she’s into some group stuff. I don’t know.” Thanks for that mental picture!
7. As for Jenna, the problem isn’t that she made the wrong choice. It’s Jenna.
Davern isn’t bitter that Jenna went with Team Matty, but he does question her ability to settle down. “I just feel like Jenna is constantly not knowing what she wants,” he reflected. “I think no matter who Jenna would have chosen, she’s always kind of in her head about everything.” He went on to say that she probably did make the right choice for her — but that doesn’t mean she’s going to stick with it. And we have seen her lusting after Collin quite a bit…
8. Jenna is growing up, and that’s not always easy for her dad.
But he’s up to the task. Mike Faiola thinks Kevin’s transition from “cool dad” to dad-dad is a realistic one. “There’s a new dimension to the character this season,” he said. “Now we have a situation where Jenna’s making some choices that are maybe a little bit questionable. She might be moving into certain things too fast and too recklessly, so he’s got to bring out the big guns as a parent. And I think he starts to realize he’s losing control over his home and his family, so he needs to make sure he rights things.” But how much of that is within his control?
9. For Jenna, getting older means finding herself and testing boundaries.
As the season continues, we’ll see more of Jenna headed in her own direction. All of the cast members cautioned it might not be a direction the audience is comfortable with. “I think at 14 and 15, teens are still a little naïve and innocent, and they haven’t really started to push the boundaries and to try to forge their identities as aggressively as they do when they hit 16,” Faiola said. “So I think this season we see that, where she’s kind of becoming more independent.” And that gives Faiola more to do as an actor: “It’s made it a lot more pleasurable to play, because it just comes from a more honest place. It’s not just ‘groovy guy.’”
10. And no, Kevin is never going to be totally comfortable with the sex stuff.
“I don’t know if a father ever gets used to that stuff,” he offered. “She’s always going to be 7 years old in his eyes. So you don’t want to think about her in those nasty situations.”
11. For Kevin and Lacey, it’s about finding the balance between friend and parent.
Note that while Kevin couldn’t listen to Jenna’s story about losing her virginity, Lacey stuck around. “While Lacey, yes, has done more peerenting than parenting, she’s kind of learning later in life what her daughter needs, and she can kind of craft this balance between both and flip that switch,” Nikki DeLoach said. “Sometimes she might need a friend and sometimes she might need the parent. I think that’s what she’s really learning to balance in Season 3.”
12. The writers continue to explore Lacey’s redemption arc.
Let’s not forget that Lacey is the one who sent Jenna the infamous letter. “I’ve been really lucky to be able to play a full arc from Season 1,” DeLoach said, “from this mother who came to the table with the best of intentions but a very inadequate skill set, and has gone through that journey with her daughter, the journey of making the mistakes and messing up and not being the mother necessarily that Jenna needed.” She’s also grateful for Season 3’s extended episode order, which she believes has given all of the characters a chance to grow. “It’s been a really cool journey to be able to play that out fully, ‘cause you don’t always get to do that, especially on a comedy,” she continued.
13. In fact, the longer season has been a gift to all the supporting characters.
“It gives us more of an opportunity because there’s just more screen time to be able to tell more complicated, complex, in-depth stories, and kind of filter out beyond Jenna,” DeLoach explained. She cited the example of Ming, a character often relegated to the background, and the Asian Mafia. As DeLoach said, “I don’t know without 20 episodes — I don’t know that we would have been able to do that.”
14. Incidentally, the Asian Mafia story line is far from over.
“The Asian Mafia doesn’t like Becca because she’s too mean, so now they’re on my side, and they’re following me,” Jessica Lu said. “Ming is really super-freaked out, and she’s kind of like, ‘What is happening?’ And then she realizes that I’m the new Queen Bee.” Be careful, Ming. With great power comes great responsibility.
15. As for Jenna’s other friends, Val deserves some credit for continuing to stick by her favorite student.
OK, so she’s not always the best at advice, but she’s trying. “She has always been there for her, even if it’s not providing the right advice — or if she’s getting it all wrong or if she’s not really helping, she’s hurting the situation more than Jenna would like, Val has always been there,” Desi Lydic noted. “And I think she’s really the only person in her life that has consistently been there for [Jenna].”
16. Plus, she’s getting better at her job. Really!
No, it’s not just you: Val is more competent than ever. Which is still less competent than some, but hey, baby steps. “I think she’s not particularly a hard worker, but she cares — she cares so much about the students,” Lydic reflected. “As much as she doesn’t like a lot of responsibility or paperwork or anything that involves administrative work, I think she’s definitely driven to make a difference in people’s lives. And she’s getting better and better as we go.”
17. The extended episode order means a slower burn all around, which can take some getting used to.
“I think people were really used to every episode being so jam-packed that your head is spinning at the end,” Davern admitted. “And that’s not to say that there’s not a lot of story lines or anything. It’s just that we’re able to take more time with it, and let it breathe a little.” He senses the audience’s frustration, however, and he sympathizes.
18. Just remember, patience is a virtue.
Concerned that not enough has happened on Awkward this season? Keep watching. Davern went on to say, “I think as an audience they’re like, ‘Where’s the cliff-hangers? Where’s the drama?’ It’s coming! It’s coming! It’s a slow burn. Let it happen.” For her part, Lydic enjoys having the plot stretched out: “I think the payoff is so much bigger that way. And you get to explore each character in ways you wouldn’t get to normally. I enjoy watching things unfold at this pace.”
19. Because so much is still to come, everyone is afraid of saying too much.
I mean, seriously, this cast is very good at not revealing anything. Lu actually carries a notebook with her containing plot points so she knows where she is in the season and what she can and can’t say. Unfortunately, she didn’t have it with her when I came to set. “I didn’t know you were coming today, and I saw it on the sheet, and I had a heart attack,” she said.
20. The hiatus will be rough but worthwhile. Try to keep it together.
As the first half of Season 3 comes to a close, fans can expect to be left hanging. And the writers wouldn’t have it any other way. “In true Awkward fashion, we can’t wrap everything up with a nice bow on it,” Davern said. “There’s major cliff-hangers, but that’s what the fans love.” But also hate! Is it time for the fall premiere yet?
The cast also teased what’s to come in the second half of the season, which will be airing at some point in the fall. I’ll share those interviews closer to the premiere. So stay tuned for more tidbits — and some hints about the dark turn Season 3 is about to take.