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Sunflowers always look to the sky.
Awkward, known also as The Awkward Compilation, is a self-proclaimed "love letter to pop culture" -- a video series about the trials and tribulations of an awkward group of Asian-Canadian university students trying to find their own happy endings and getting in each others' way in the process. Geeky humour, occasional randomness, and the odd spontaneous musical number ensue. Prepare to laugh until you pee a little.
Lester and Alex are housemates and friends. One day Lester walks in on Alex making time with his hand and a video of Lester on the toilet, and it becomes apparent that Alex's feelings for him are a little more than "friendly". In fact, a little more like "stalkerish and obsessive". And by "a little" I mean "exactly". This makes things rough for everyone involved when Lester meets Steph...
Meanwhile their friend Kevin has a problem. See, Kevin likes this girl in his class, but he's not really sure how to let her know. After all, they've only met online. Moreover, she already has a romantic interest, and he's a bit of a douchebag. Luck is not on his side, but he's not one to quit without trying.
Written, directed by, and starring Lester Calleja and Alex Chung. Also featuring a bunch of people they know, pretty much playing themselves. Takes place predominantly in and around Lester's house and York University campus.
It spans six main segments and two interludes (three if you count the post-series retrospective). The Heroic Melon Collective website provides links to each installation and their YouTube channel has a convenient playlist. Go forth and binge. After all, it Needs More Love.
Not to be confused with the MTV series Awkward
This series provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc: Lester recognizing Ernie's name was supposed to go somewhere, but was left unexplained when his actor bailed.
- Action Girl: Steph hands Alex's ass to him in Awkward 6. Of course he's already done a Heel Face Turn at this point, but better late than never, right?
- Adorkable: Mostly Lester (especially in pre-series scenes), also Kevin, and at times even Alex.
- Almost Kiss: Lester and Alex in Awkward 5. It's uncomfortable for them, unlucky bystander Kevin, the viewer...
- Always Someone Better: Jermaine, for Lester. It's why Jermaine hangs around with him.
Jermaine: I win all the games, get all the girls, do all the dishes... I'll always beat you. You'll never be able to surpass my level of-- YOU SUCK AT LIFE.
Jermaine: Lester's such a great friend. I'm better than him at everything. Man, what would I do without him?
- Badass Boast: Lester can beat the running man. Except he can't.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Basically Kevin's reaction when Lester starts hitting on Alex.
Alex: Kevin! There's something wrong with Lester!
Kevin: Isn't this what you've always wanted?
- Beware the Nice Ones: Lester will put up with a lot, but when Alex interferes with his relationship with Steph...
- Bland-Name Product: Usually averted, with the exception of Facenovel, a carry-over from cinematographer Philbert's previous work Book Of A Million Faces that places them in the same universe. Probably.
- Blatant Lies: A lot of what Alex says. "Makin' a video. For school. Yeah, it's a documentary about, um... kitchen life."
- Lester is not immune either.
Lester: Why don't you just sleep with Alex?
Kevin: Really? He's not gonna do anything funny or creepy, is he?
Lester: *Beat* ABSOLUTELY NOT.
- Book Ends: The first half of Awkward 1 and the last scene of Awkward 6 include the same dialogue at the same table, with the roles and context changed.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: "Teacher said, uh, make variety with camera angles. Like I wanna make a high shot, y'know, low shot... cumshot..."
- Break the Cutie: Alex isn't your typical "cutie", but he's thoroughly woobified after his fight with Lester at the end of Awkward 5 nonetheless. He gets better.
- Butt Monkey: Alex, to the point that it's a vicious cycle and he's addicted to it. Woah.
- Catapult Nightmare: Alex wakes up screaming... minus the 'waking up' part. Kevin is appropriately freaked out. Lester likewise wakes up screaming after dreaming of Alex watching him sleep while muttering creepily. Kevin is again freaked out, but this time it's mutual.
- Caught with Your Pants Down: Lester walking in on Alex is what kicks off everything. Flipped with Alex walking in on Lester at the start of the Christmas installment, though it's much milder and immediately dismissed.
- Cerebus Retcon: Alex reading Twilight was supposed to be a one-off joke, but it ended up becoming integral to his characterization.
- Cerebus Syndrome: What starts as pure grossout humour turns very dramatic by Awkward 5.
- Chekhov's Gun: My Sassy Girl can be seen next to the video camera on Alex's shelf in Awkward 2.
- Dexter holds a Pokeball while doing tai chi. He later uses it to take out Jermaine.
- Christmas Special: Awkward Christmas.
- Crazy Prepared: Real life example: The dress Alex wears during the Miss Brighteyes bit? It's his. Apparently he owns it in case he should ever require a dress. Fair enough.
- Critical Psychoanalysis Failure: Alex's Homoerotic Dream is enough to make Henry throw in the towel.
Alex: Woah woah woah wait! I thought you said you'd help me.
Henry: You know what? I thought so too, buuut it turns out I was wrong.
- Cursed with Awesome: Karen's "different". Enough so to get her dumped, but Kevin digs it.
- Department of Redundancy Department: "It's 2AM in the fucking morning!"
- Description Cut: "I was reading a very intellectual book." Cut to Lester reading The Legend of Zelda manga.
- Deus Ex Machina: Kevin and Dexter's sudden appearances during the showdown against Jermaine.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: Lester upon first meeting Steph -- "He's very green!" -- luckily he manages to stop before he digs himself too deep.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: "I like it, it's all white and bubbly." And about half of everything Alex says.
Alex: You know it's all about finding the right key. The one that fits... just right. The one that you insert deep into the back door...
- Dogged Nice Guy: Kevin.
- Driven to Suicide: Alex, in Awkward Origins. The scene is straight out of Titanic.
- Dyeing for Your Art: Jermaine got his hair cut before filming specifically to look like a douche. He had to keep it that way for two months.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Literally -- Sigfried the duck can be seen beside Lester's VCR in Awkward 1.
- Evil Laugh: Jermaine has a particularly douchey one.
- Fake Video Camera View: Alex's hidden cameras, such as the Hero Cam a.k.a. the Link plush doll.
- Five-Man Band: Although they never assemble as a group proper, the character types are strongly evident.
- Freudian Couch: Seen in Alex's "therapy" sessions.
- Groin Attack: Awkward 2 has two in quick succession; first Alex on Lester as part of a staged fight -- "How could I forget? It's like a cat tried to suck my dick." -- then Henry takes a run at Kevin in a truly eyewatering Crowning Moment of Awesome.
Henry: I'LL SHOW YOU GLASSES FUCK MOTHERFUCKER! *KICK* YEAAAAHH!!!
- Heel Face Turn: Alex, just in time for a Big Damn Heroes moment.
- Homoerotic Dream: How Awkward 4 opens... homoerotic hip hop dancing. Considering it's Alex's dream, it's not surprising in the least.
- I'm Standing Right Here
Kevin: You said he doesn't talk when he eats.
Alex: Hey, I'm right here, you know.
Lester: He's insecure.
Alex: Hey, I just said I'm right here!
- Ironic Echo Cut: Not precisely, but pretty close with
Kevin: It's a surprise.
Lester: I fucking hate surprises. *Beat* I'm kidding.
Kevin: It's a surprise.
Alex: Lester hates surprises.
Lester: Yeah, I do.
- Kick the Dog: Alex telling Lester to give up on Steph because "everybody knows you're just going to mess it up like last time".
- We only hear the story secondhand, but apparently Ernie dumps Karen, calling her "worthless". What a dick!
- Lampshaded Double Entendre: In Awkward 1, "Little Bow Wow... yeah, I hate that little guy." "He's not all little, if you know what I mean." And later in Awkward 4, "I'm gonna go all Doctor Manhattan on everybody and just walk around naked with my dong hanging out and explode people -- if you know what I mean."
- Leitmotif: Not a particular song, but Steph's scenes tend to be accompanied by songs from Taiyou no Uta.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: How Lester tries to bring things to a close in Awkward 1. It doesn't exactly work.
- Love Dodecahedron: Alex lusts after Lester, who wants none of it. Lester likes Steph, and maybe it's mutual. And Jermaine thinks he and Steph have something going on... but she doesn't even know who he is.
- Love Triangle: Kevin, Karen, and Ernie have a type 4 situation.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Jermaine's character is douchebag of epic proportions. By all accounts, though, he's a totally nice guy in real life.
- Mood Whiplash: The series swings back and forth between funny and serious throughout, but Awkward 5 in particular jumps from one to the other and back again so fast you'll need a neck brace.
- Moment Killer: Alex. It's entirely intentional, and Lester does not take it well.
Lester: I have a confession to make.
Steph: Tell me.
Lester: I, um... I have butterflies.
Alex: (bursting in) Lester! Wanna watch a movie?
- Noodle Implements: Kevin fumbles and spills a box marked "KAREN". Its contents: fruit and condoms. It's probably best not to wonder.
- One-Scene Wonder: Alex's unnamed blind date, who threatens him in Korean and beats the snot out of him.
- Perverse Sexual Lust: Lester and his Tifa action figure. Ahem.
- POV Sequel: Sort of. Awkward 4 has two scenes from Awkward 3 redone from the perspective of a character who was out of the room at the time, witnessing the previously shown scene on surveilance, and Awkward 5 has a scene from Awkward 2 from the perspective of a character the audience didn't even know was there.
- Power Trio: Lester, Alex, and Kevin. Especially evident toward the end.
- Race For Your Love: Lester, in one of the final scenes of Awkward 6.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Henry and Ernie's departure from the project following Awkward 4 resulted in their characters' disappearances and the appearance of some similar character types -- Henry (the therapist) is replaced with Dexter (the sage), and Ernie (the douche) with Jermaine (the mega-douche).
- Real Men Wear Pink: Lester's favourite movie is Korean Romantic Comedy My Sassy Girl.
Lester: Aww, isn't that the cutest fucking thing you've ever seen?
- Romantic False Lead: Ernie, who Kevin describes as "a cockblocking bastard of a man".
- Seinfeldian Conversation: Notably the 'who's your favourite Sailor Scout?' conversation.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Alex is a Depraved Lestersexual.
- Shout-Out: In spades, but most notably the scores of references to Batman, Ace Attorney, and The Legend of Zelda, trademark favourite series of Alex, Kevin, and Lester respectively.
- Single-Issue Psychology: Flashbacks show Alex lost it after being rejected one too many times. Possibly justified in that he was shot down for not being enough like Edward.
- Stalker with a Crush: Alex, Alex, ALEX.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Dexter for Henry, Jermaine for Ernie. See Real Life Writes the Plot, above.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial
Lester: Home so soon?
Alex: I didn't come from anywhere suspicious.
- The Danza: Every character has their actor's name. How much of this is a case of As Himself depends on the character, ranging from 'well kind of' to 'In Name Only'.
- There Are No Girls on the Internet: Kevin admits he hasn't even seen a picture of the female classmate he met online. Alex and Lester immediately question whether she actually exists.
- There Are No Therapists: Played straight or averted, depending on how legit you consider Henry.
- Throw It In: Kevin's 'permanent laxative' ramblings were intended to be a blooper, but got included to explain why the scene went nowhere after Ernie left the project and had to be written out. More generally, the entire post-credits kitchen handycam scene from Awkward 1 was entirely adlibbed, pieced together from around 10 minutes of footage, and nearly left on the cutting room floor for being too gross.
- Title Drop: The last word in the series proper, courtesy of the ever observant Kevin.
- Toplessness From the Back: Alex attempts something along these lines during the Miss Brighteyes number.
- Under the Mistletoe: Alex attempts this with Lester, using... mistletoe lotion. It's a no go.
- Unsettling Gender Reveal: One of Alex's Internet blind dates in the Awkward 4 flashback is a guy who apparently expected Alex to be short for Alexandra.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: Harry Potter spells are treated as very serious business.
Alex: AVADA KADAVRA!
Kevin: Are you fucking serious?!
Lester: The killing spell?! Really?!
- What Could Have Been: Discussed. Kevin refers to a fixation on "what could have been" as Saved Game Syndrome.
- What Would X Do?
Lester: When times get tough and I don't know what to do, I think to myself... what would Link do?
- Write Who You Know: With the exceptions of Alex and Jermaine, almost all of the characters are to some degree based on the person playing them. Especially notable is the case of Steph, whose character was inspired by her long before she had the role.