(The Root) — The award-winning Web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is back with a vengeance, and what appears to be a lot more money. Co-creator Issa Rae returns in the second season as J, the awkward black girl, making her way through life one awkward step at a time. The usual suspects are all there: CeCe (Sujata Jay), her hip-hop-dancing co-worker and confidant; J's nemesis, Nina (Tracy Oliver), who puts the "b" in the "b-word"; J's hovering failed hookup, A (Andrew Allan James); and J's former semi-flame, Fred (Madison T. Shockley III), whom she dumped for White Jay (Lyman Johnson).
If the relationships sound awkward and complicated, it's because they are absolutely awkward and complicated. Rae and co-creator Oliver have managed to pull together life's most awkward moments and weave them into a story that resonates with anyone who has ever felt out of place.
In this season's premiere, "The Sleepover," J is still the odd woman out at work (pun intended), being forced to partner with her nemesis on a work project and misidentified as a lesbian by co-worker and series newcomer Logan (Giselle Ramirez) based on her androgynous attire. J is also already feeling awkward about her "three-week-iversary" with White Jay, whom she has yet to bed, much to CeCe's chagrin. If that weren't enough angst, J must contend with what looks like the budding friendship of her "exes" A and Fred. Can you say "awkward"?
Not much has changed, including J's life soundtrack, which she describes as "still ratchet" and is interlaced with a copious amount of cusswords and slurs. J is "NSFW," as indicated by her bright-red T-shirt in the opening scene. Her dry, self-deprecating humor is constant, and her life at work is still as drab as her boss-mandated black-and-gray dress code.
J and CeCe's chemistry is undeniable as they hate on Nina, aka "the Kinky Twisted Kraken," with CeCe suggesting that they "scratch her scalp and put a perm on it." Gone is J's clueless, über-happy boss lady, who has been replaced by the overzealous Jesus, who drops sniglets like "teffort" — a combination of "team" and "effort" — as his way of motivating the staff.
Also new about the series are its production values, which seem to have a better look and sound. The writing is raunchier and sometimes makes you wonder if J is awkward or just a mean girl in disguise.
Rae and Oliver have partnered with super-producer Pharrell Williams' YouTube channel I Am OTHER, which is now hosting the series. Viewers will have to wait until July 12 for the next episode to see if J consummates her relationship with White Jay. If the premiere — with its improved writing, direction, production and overall performances — is any indication, the second episode might be worth the wait.
Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., is editor-at-large for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.
Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., a media scholar, is digital editor in chief at Grady Newsource and a faculty member of the Cox Institute of Journalism, Innovation, Management & Leadership at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. She is founder and editor in chief of the award-winning news blog the Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter here or here.