It’s an all new season for Awkward., and an all new year of high school on the show — junior year has begun and things are about to shift monumentally. In anticipation of tonight’s premiere and the season to come, we sat down with Molly Tarlov, who plays “mean girl” Sadie (despite her super sweet, approachable real life demeanor), and Beau Mirchoff, who plays one point in the show’s love triangle (fans have even taken alliances – see Buzzfeed’s reasons you’re “Team Matty”), to talk about the forthcoming season and their evolving characters, and to speculate on what it is, exactly, about this show that so resonates with its viewers. Here’s what they had to say.
Can you tell me a bit about the development of your character Sadie through the seasons – from “bitchy” girl to someone who’s actually more self-conscious than she tries to let on? How will you continue to grow this season?
MT: There are going to be a couple major events this season that affect Sadie greatly. Stuff happens over the summer that forces Sadie to redefine who she is. She has always operated from a place where it’s very important to her how other people view her. And everyone around her is going to try to figure out how to view her as well because she’s really different – she’s shifted, in a certain sense – in the first episode. There’s going to be a ton of rumors, and everything will come out – questions will be answered – and she’s going to have to really get more comfortable with herself because a lot is happening. So we’re going to see that struggle a lot more overtly. We’re going to see her clawing her way back onto solid footing. And we’re going to see more Sadie in this season, in general.
What do you pull from, as an actor, to be mean on screen as Sadie?
MT: First of all, there are so many insecurities written into that character in the script. We’ve been playing these characters so long it just sort of lives in me – maybe that’s scary! – but also because she’s so outrageous, I have to suspend disbelief in the first place. Plus the things she says and the things she does are so outrageous – it’s funny so there’s a lot of comedy that goes into and makes it easier. I don’t have to play mean completely — the comic timing helps.
Beau, your character is a main love interest in the show, one point of a love triangle, but there’s more there. We know you’re complicated – how will Matty continue to become more three-dimensional in this season?
BM: It took a long time for Matty to be able to be honest with himself. The reason is because he’s insecure – people think he’s this fun-loving guy, which he is, but there’s a lot of insecurity stemmed from his parents, his brother, he doesn’t want to end up like his brother – it’s a lot of things – his mom’s crazy, which you get to learn about this season. As Matty has gotten older, he’s been able to reflect a little and be more comfortable. Some things have gone his way – he got the girl. And that’s all good – it’s sort of coming together and forming Matty as a young adult. It’s cool to see and as the season progresses, you get to see his relationship progress in a very adult way. He says what’s on his mind, he says what’s bothering him, he comes up with ideas for solutions. As he’s evolving, maybe Jenna’s devolving. And maybe it’s Matty’s turn to be the mature one and pick her up.
Is there anything viewers should especially be excited about this season?
MT: There are a couple big things we can’t share at all or dance around at all because they’re so monumental and they’re cut-and-dry, but I can say I am excited about the exploration of new relationships. The first season it was Jenna and it was everything relating to her; second season got more fleshed out; and this season each character has his or her own life going on.
BM: By the third season, a lot of shows start to dip a little in story – but this year is such a drastic change, yet it’s in such an organic way. It’s not a surface-level show – it’s even more impactful and thought-provoking.
In real life our opinions of people and our relationships change, and I think we’re going to see a lot of that. In high school, it’s ever-changing; in your whole life it is. My birthday is in September and it was always weird because I would have my birthday party at the beginning of the school year and then two months in, I’d be like “Oh my God, I love you so much and you weren’t at my birthday party!” Everything changes. Not that I ditched friends, but relationships evolved. I think there’s going to be a lot of things like that and role reversals.
Do you feel that you have a unique relationship with your fans?
BM: I know we do have a very direct way of reaching out to fans and talking to them via social media. We are their age – we are younger – we’re in our twenties – we’re closer to their demo so there’s this innate relationship that makes us perhaps a little closer to the average fan.
MT: The show is such the underdog show and I think people really love it – and when they love it they really love it. And something special about that is I know when fans come up to me and I can see that it’s their favorite show.
BM: Sometimes we deal with an issue on a show and it actually makes them think about it or changes them in any positive way – that transcends the show and is really cool – and it happens sometimes.
What is it about this show that so resonates with the audience?
BM: The base of it; the relatability; the characters are real, breathing people with real problems. That’s a testament to the writing, and the acting, too.
MT: I think it really lets people in. We’re all kind of in on the joke – the characters, the audience, everyone.
BM: It’s not trying to be something it’s not, either. It deals with topics in a fun way.
MT: And I think we all have fun making it, and you can see that. That’s another thing with social media – you can see that we really love the show because we watch it altogether and stuff like that.
When you were in high school, how were you guys different/similar from the characters you play?
MT: That’s so weird – I actually just thought about that question for real for the first time. And I’m completely different. Not even just how mean she is – just everything is not like me.
BM: I’m similar in a lot of ways and different in a lot of ways.
MT: Tell us about that.
BM: [Laughs] I never really thought about it. It’s kind of weird. I was very confident in high school and probably a little less naïve than Matty – maybe a little smarter, too. I did very well in school, I got along with a lot of different crowds, I wasn’t self-conscious. I was more mature than Matty in a lot of ways. We grow up fast in Canada. I acted, too, so I was always traveling to go on auditions – so I was in my own world doing things. Not worried too much about what other people thought.
And Beau, do you have a girlfriend?
Awkward. premieres on Tuesdays at 10/9C on MTV, beginning April 16.