November 19, 2013 9:00am PT by Philiana Ng
'Awkward': Ashley Rickards on Jenna's Dark Days and Mending Broken Relationships
Is there light at the end of the tunnel for Jenna?
It's been a rough time for the once sarcastic yet lovable Palos Hills High School junior on MTV's Awkward, alienating herself from friends and family with several uncharacteristic moves, decisions and zingers.
Ashley Rickards talks to The Hollywood Reporter about Jenna's dark days, if she'll return to who she was before and the likelihood of a Matty/Jenna reunion.
What do you make of viewers' reactions to the direction Jenna has taken?
The viewers have been watching Jenna for three years. They know her. It's interesting to watch her make decisions that don't have good outcomes and decisions the viewers may find hard to root for. That's because you care, that's because you're invested in the character and you hope she comes out better. People have gotten a lot more passionate about it but I think it really highlights that people really believe in Jenna.
Jenna has been alienating herself from her friends and family. Does she continue down that road?
She's going down this path until she can't -- until she feels like she's reached the end, like anyone would do in life. I can't say too much about [where she goes] but she's just like you and I. It's very realistic, and these are things young people go through all the time. I think Jenna has to deal with why she's been doing these things, until she finds herself and the truth.
How do you characterize her journey?
Pretty realistic. I don't know anyone in life who hasn't made a mistake. This season we've really brought some realistic themes to the show. Jenna's going to make a mistake or two -- or five or six. That's what life is -- an experience. The reason Jenna is acting this way is she's growing up.
How significantly has Jenna's relationship with Collin changed her?
Oh sure. The Collin situation is definitely changing her. The worst thing you can do is lose who we are -- our individuality -- in somebody else. That's oftentimes confused with redefining yourself, but there is a truth to who you are naturally that you may or may not understand yet. Jenna, for the first time, trying to figure out who she is -- not only outside of a relationship, but outside of everything.
What's in store for Jenna and her parents? Last we left them, there are some huge rifts between them.
This season there's some tough parenting that's going to have to happen. You'll see these two parents, who had Jenna at a young age, really having to treat her as an adult and it's an interesting interaction. It's uncomfortable to watch because you see these people who love their daughter but don't know what to do in that situation because they've never been in that situation.
Is where Jenna is at this point in her life a natural progression for the show?
It is a natural progression. People are asking me what did I tell the writers at the beginning of the season? I didn't do anything. This is definitely a natural progression for Jenna. She's been going through life for three years unaffected and there's a time when you feel powerful and sometimes you make mistakes and that will shut yourself down eventually.
When Jenna does get out of this dark "phase," so to speak, what do you hope she gets out of this?
It's not so much what I want my character to learn, it's what I hope my character is able to do to help other people. I hope that Jenna is able to bring a little less judgment to the teenage psyche and bring a little more self-acceptance and openness.
What's the likelihood that Jenna and Matty will be reunited?
That's a good question and I don't really know the answer to it. Once you bond with someone, you can't really unbond with them. He definitely cares about her and there's a lot of forgiveness in Matty, so that's inspiring. I don't know what they'll be in the future -- whether they'll be together or as friends.
Awkward airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on MTV.