Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Modern Traditional Comedy

MTV's Awkward 

I'm not even joking when I say that when I was watching an Awkward marathon the other day (in honor of the new season eep), I literally had a moment when I was like "Oh em gee, Awkward is such a comedy." And I mean comedy as in Dante comedy, not like ha-ha comedy. This happened. I'm still a bit freaked out that it did.
How does this modern, witty, sometimes ridiculous teen television show reflect the characteristics of a "comedy"(as seen in The Divine Comedy) might you ask? Let's take this step by step.
According to the Norton Anthology, a comedy encompasses four main characteristics. 
1) Narrative Structure: A comedy begins in misery and ends in happiness. For those of you who aren't familiar with this glorious television masterpiece, Jenna Hamiton, the protagonist, starts out as her high school's outcast. She has two friends, is falsely accused of attempting suicide (hence the broken arm), and is madly in love with the school's most popular guy Matty, though he doesn't know she exists. Epitome of misery. Now, flash-forward two seasons. Jenna is now in a relationship with Matty, by most accounts has climbed the social ladder, and her arm is healed. BAM- misery to happiness.
2) Style: Comedies contain a range of style, which is also true for Awkward. Much of the insight we receive from Jenna comes from her constant blogging. Not to mention, her best friend Tamara presents an entirely unique style of talking. Style-covered.
3) Character: A comedy deals with a wide range of characters. If you've seen a single episode of this show, you know this is true. Awkward characters range from members of an "Asian Mafia" to a non-traditional evil cheerleader ("You're Welcome"). 
4) Subject Matter: Comedy deals with people's private lives, as opposed to events of grand historical importance. The entire show is centered around Jenna Hamilton's journey through high school.

Moral of the post is, traditional comedies still exist today, but they're just a bit modernized. Other moral of the post is, Humanities has inhabited most parts of my brain. I'm not complaining.
I don't think this show will be winning any Emmys anytime soon, though it should in my opinion. However, it's refreshingly witty and often hysterical.


Miranda Martinez said...

First off, this is absolutely brilliant Brooke. I never saw the connection, but now I see it clear as day! Jenna goes through so many obstacles (disorder --> order) and finds her happiness (although in a bit of a screwed up manner - since she cheated on her boyfriend). I never considered classic comedy to be incorporated into modern tv, but I now see how writers use the foundation of the original comedy to create their own modern twist.

Megan Hoolahan said...

Although I'm not familiar with the show Awkward, I've seen this connection in many other shows and movies. I think that most shows and movies actually do follow the same structure as classical comedies. In the spirit of Halloween, I watched Hocus Pocus last night.
1) Narrative structure- When the movie starts, the main character Max is the new kid in town whose LA style doesn't fit in with the rest of the superstitious kids' in Salem. Yet, by the end of the movie, he lands a date with the most beautiful girl in school.
2) Style- We see a range of style from the three witches incantations, Binx’s 17th century speech, the flashbacks to the 17th century, and the modern day speech of Max, Dani, Allison, and the other characters.
3) Characters- This movie definitely focuses on a wide range of characters. Binx is on a mission to avenge the death of his sister Emily that the 3 witches caused in the 17th century. The witches are trying to suck the souls of as many children as they can before the end of the night so that they can break the curse and live forever in the skin of a young adult. Max, Dani, and Allison are trying to stop the 3 witches while also helping out their new friend Binx.
4) Subject Matter- All the characters are on their own personal mission. These events definitely don’t have any grand historical importance since they are all entirely made up; however, the story is probably inspired by the witch hunts and accusations made in Salem.
The classical definition of comedies still applies to many shows, movies, and books today. This structure keeps the audience entertained and interested.

Kincy GIbson said...

Reading this I realize that most adolescent shows play out exactly in this format. A highschool or middle school kid starts out miserable because of his or her social status. There are many different narrative styles. There are many different characters but usually there are two opposing cliques. The subject matter usually deals with the students main goal in life: getting an attractive boyfriend or girlfriend.