Awkward has been, from the jump, a refreshingly current yet timeless depiction of high school hell. And while season three is no exception, it seems like everyone involved with the show (actors, writers, costumers, janitors) has stepped up their game to tell increasingly complex yet no less universal stories.
That has left star Ashley Rickards in a constant state of awe as she's forced to pull a Tamara (create her own complimentary language) in order to properly describe her own show. In addition to learning what a "Prius Moment" is, I discovered that while things get darker for Jenna this season, the show continues to be a bright spot on MTV's schedule.
ETonline: First things first, I've seen tonight's one-hour premiere and it's amazing.
Ashley Rickards: Thank you. I think you'll feel that way about this whole season. I'm so proud of our cast and our crew and our writers and our network and that guy at the front desk at MTV who always recognizes my face but never knows why I'm there. I'm so proud of them all.
ETonline: For those who haven't gotten a sneak peek, where does season three pick up?
Rickards: Season three starts with Tamara returning from her Euro vacation, and she's rocking some killer outfits that I'm pretty jealous about. Seriously. I was so jealous that I went out and bought them the next weekend. I'm a little competitive [laughs]. Basically we've got a really interesting switch of couples now that Jake is with Tamara and Jenna is with Matty. It's best friends with best friends. And I don't think there has ever been someone who watched their best friend date an ex and not felt a twinge of jealousy. It'll be interesting to see if their friendship can survive those waters.
ETonline: And both girls kinda put hos before bros this summer. A major no-no.
Rickards: Yeah, they did do that. That's just one way this season handles more mature subject matter than the others. I mean, our show was always realistic, but our show has matured so much this year. Plus, we have 20 episodes this season and by episode five, it's such an interesting, interesting ride. It’s incredibly ... coagulated. I have to cut myself off after every adjective because then there's a pronoun and then I'm a spoiler. I think the fans are going to love it.
ETonline: What excites you about Jenna's journey this year?
Rickards: I feel really duped because I know I told you, and everyone else, that season two was going to be the year where you couldn't believe Jenna's arc, but I feel kind of duped because, while I honestly felt that at the time, I really, really feel it this season. Jenna is going to a very dark place this season, and as an actor, I'm so excited to play that.
ETonline: Though that darkness, how is her relationship with Matty?
Rickards: Their relationship is pretty solid. The finale kinda laid it out there. She made a choice and they had a great time all summer at camp. Matty was Jenna's first and in a sense Jenna is now Matty's first because they're entering a new phase of their relationship and it's kind of like they're both virgins now. It's going to be interesting to see how they manage their jealousy, excitement and communication. There are a lot of mature themes coming up because the characters are growing up.
ETonline: Will Jenna -- and the audience -- meet Matty's parents this season?
Rickards: Are you asking if Awkward goes Meet The Fockers? [laughs] I think that would just be the creme de la creme of Awkward. I mean, you've got Jenna, who can't even get out the door without being awkward, and then you've two sets of parents and her boyfriend ... that is the worst situation in the world. I can't wait.
ETonline: Past seasons have had an overarching mystery (Who wrote the note? Who is the secret commenter?). Will season three have one as well?
Rickards: Yeah. I think when people decide to be screenwriters, there are certain things you have to do. And we will keep that up this season where we have a unique opportunity to embrace a really interesting plot twist. And you'll get to see one character in particular do something that I never thought would happen.
ETonline: Looking at what's in store for fans this year, how excited are you for them to see what's coming?
Rickards: Roll with me for a second. I bought a Prius yesterday, which is a hybrid. I would like to hybrid the world bewilderment and gratefulness to answer your question. I am in a Prius moment right now. Oooh, I should copyright that [laughs]. I am just feeling it. It's been an amazing thing. I never expected this show to go where it has. I didn't even know if it would get picked up. And then to be sitting at a table at The Critics Choice Awards, where I'm nominated, and wearing gobs of makeup ... don't ever do your makeup in the car. Seriously. But that moment was so surreal. So, to answer your question, I think excited would undersell how pumped I am about this new season. It's amazing.
Awkward premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on MTV.