Previously on Awkward.: Tamara catfishes Jake. Matty is only interested in being benefits rather than friends. Eva answers Matty’s door and won’t let Jenna in.
Jenna stays up all night obsessing over Eva answering Matty’s door. In the morning, she gets a call from Tamara and immediately starts ranting about Eva. Since we didn’t hear anyone on the other end before Jenna’s word vomit commenced, we all know it’s Eva. You’d think that this would make her hesitate to talk about her again, but she shows up to school ranting all the same. “Do I hear a bitch pitch in your voice?” Tamara asks, only half-interested in Jenna’s plight. She’s more interested in her second cell phone, which belongs to her catfishing pseudonym Autumn Sandiego. She seems to be going big one her Jake-stalking.
It’s Spirit Week and the interclass rivalry is strong. Enter the “Sophomore Sluts.” According to Jenna and Eva, these girls are “cleavage-bearing, short shorts-wearing, Ke$ha clones” whose colored hair extensions correspond to the sexual acts they’re game for. This entire thing is super problematic. Y’all, we should be judging these girls on their abysmal PERSONALITIES, not their sexual activities or perceived sexual activities. I thought Val was going to be the person to point out how slut shaming is wrong, but instead she requested that Jenna and company refer to them as “slags” or “slappers” instead, “because it’s British.” This disappointed me.
Sadie still wants to reclaim her cheer captaincy and is shamelessly using Jesus to do it. She questions whether Jesus would support cheerleading, claims that other people have been commenting on the captaincy going to Lissa’s head, and asks, “Did you know that ‘Judas’ and ‘Lissa’ have the same amount of letters?” Sadie’s manipulation game is on point; by the end of the episode, Lissa goes to Val and tells her she no longer wants to be cheer captain.
On to the first Spirit Week competition: Chubby Bunny. Contestants must shove marshmallows in their mouths and say “Chubby bunny” after each. The person who can say it clearly after the most marshmallows wins. I’m so happy that my high school’s spirit week was made of apparel contests and penny races, because this Chubby Bunny business sounds like a recipe for disaster. Sophomore MacKenzie is eye-fucking Matty and Jake while shoving her face full of marshmallows. Listen, I get what they’re trying to go for here, but that was one of the least sexy things I’ve ever seen. Tamara declares MacKenzie the winner, making the sophomore class the victor for event one.
Jenna attempts honesty with Matty sans dramatics (character growth!)—she asks if he’s okay and expresses sadness that she’s not the one he’s coming to for comfort. Being in the midst of Bad Boy Matty Phase, Matty doesn’t care. Instead, he sassily asks if he needs to vet the people he talks to through Jenna first. J, I’m frustrated for you.
On to the second Spirit Week competition: hallway decorating and costumes. The senior hallway is decorated, to paraphrase Val, like how the 80’s viewed the future. The girls are all dressed as robots, or “like hobos who pose like statues for money.” The sophomores have gone full on jungle for their decorations and are all wearing animal print bikinis and loin cloths, which would definitely not be allowed by the dress codes in any public high school I’ve seen. Regardless, the sophomores are once again named the victors.
Tamara is depriving herself of sleep in order to continue her Autumn Sandiego ruse. She gets to hear Jake call her crazy, controlling, and self-centered. Jenna takes over as Powderpuff coach, which Sadie disagrees with. “You can’t coach, all you know is losing!” Eva offers to help, but Jenna frostily refuses.
Matty’s mom wants to talk to him about a secret in the garage, but it turns out that secret is a dent in his car that she thinks he’s been hiding. Matty alludes to another secret in the garage, leaving me to ponder this important question: why are they keeping proof of Matty’s adoption in the garage? Anyway, this incident is probably what causes Bad Boy Matty Phase to flare—given the opportunity to hang with Jake and the sophomore girls, Matty ditches work and flips off his boss. MATTY. At least get your last paycheck first!
While Jenna’s dad is trying to teach her about football, Ma Lacey and Ally are watching while they drink. The duo reveals that Ally was an original Sophomore Slut—“Before me, the ‘tramp stamp’ was just called a ‘lower back tattoo,’” Ally says proudly. Jenna’s dad makes the important point that beating the sophomores in the Powderpuff football game won’t stop the guys from wanting to hang out with them, but it goes unheard.
Third Spirit Week competition: the Powderpuff game. The senior girls are down all of their cheerleaders, since the boys all bailed when Matty and Jake didn’t show. Tamara bitches them out, which leads to their total abandonment of the senior girls in favor of supporting the sophomores. Morale is down, and Jenna’s not one for the inspiring speech: “As long as those sluts are out there, we’re never going to win.” Sadie has finally had enough and takes over: “I say we go out there and kick those sluts’ asses, are you with me bitches?” Jenna’s facing off with MacKenzie in the game, who has the gall to pull her hair. Eva isn’t standing for it—she turns to Jenna and says, “If you don’t do it I will.” The hesitation is too long, and Eva rips out MacKenzie’s pink hair extensions before tackling her to the ground. GO EVA! She might be my new favorite. Or at least a close second to Sadie. A giant fight breaks out between the sophomores and seniors. In the end, the sophomores are declared the victors of Spirit Week. Also no one gets suspended for the giant fight that just occurred at a school-sanctioned event. The important thing is that Jenna and Eva are buds. Jenna apologizes for being a jerk to Eva because Matty was being a jerk to her, while Eva apologizes for not knowing Matty and Jenna’s history and not letting her in the other night. They are not united firmly with a “Chicks before dicks” attitude.
Matty, Jake, and the sophomore girls are wasted. Matty is trying to do some sort of trick with his car? But he can’t keep up, so his car ends up crashing. That sounded bad.
Next week on Awkward.: the gang visits college! Jenna meets a new dude, Tamara meets the sorority house, and somehow Sadie and Eva end up topless in a Jacuzzi with Matty and Jake. Ummmmmm what? Are we bringing back Sadie/Matty? Because if we are, I’m into it.
For me, “Sophomore Sluts” could have been a lot stronger without the slut shaming. The interclass rivalry and MacKenzie’s relationship would have been enough to cause animosity—the constant name-calling was unnecessary and got old very quickly. While the slut shaming in this episode was super disappointing, it did have its moments—I love the show of lady friendship in Jenna and Eva. I give the writers points for clearing the air between them super fast and hope to see more of their friendship in the future, being as they seem to have given up on any Jenna/Tamara scenes passing the Bechdel test. The Bad Boy Matty Phase is progressing well—I’m curious when all of Matty’s drama is going to spin out of control.
Episode Rating: 6/10