"Awkward Embraces" Review: A Gender-Reversed "Big Bang Theory," Only, You Know: Funny
It’s in the fourth episode of the geek-girl web series, Awkward Embraces, that the show finds its stride, when series’ lead, Jessica Mills, recounts to her two best friends, Lyndsey and Candis, the morning after a one-night stand . After drinking too much and “accidentally” having sex with a skeezy guy, Jessica wakes up hung over and remorseful. Even still, etiquette and appearance is foremost in her mind. She doesn’t want to be thought of as a dirty whore, so she shakes the skeezy guy awake and inelegantly intimates that they should grab breakfast together. Either too tired or too skeezy to pick up on the clues, skeezy guy grunts dismissively. Jessica then tries to shake off the awkwardness by offering to go get him a donut. However, too humiliated to follow through on her polite gesture and compound her walk of shame, Jessica ultimately returns only to leave the donut on skeezy guy’s doorstep before bailing.
That’s exactly the kind of hilariously awkward story that’s too bizarre not to be true, but not so far-fetched as to sound fabricated, which is the balance of most of the series’ episodes. Jessica is an effervescently dorky geek girl who rides a fine line between cute and pathetic. Awkward Embraces revolves around the dating woes and awkward stories of both she and her best friends, Candis — the no-nonsense and supportive one — and Lyndsey, the super hot but kinda slutty one. Those dating woes teeter dangerously close to “Curb Your Enthusiasm” levels of discomfort, but it never becomes too hard to watch.
The show also represents a fun reversal of sorts; cheesy sitcoms have mined the hot-girl-with-the-nerd dynamic for years (most successfully with “Big Bang Theory”), so it’s fascinating to see a female hold the power-dork position in the dating dynamic. For instance, in one episode — after Jessica recounts a recent date in which she speaks at length about her favorite episode of “Star Trek” — she wonders why the date ended so disastrously. “I thought we discussed not bringing up ‘Star Trek’ on a first date,” Candis tells Jessica. “But I was talking about ‘Star Trek TNG,’” Jessica responds, dismissively.
Meanwhile, when she’s not screwing around with half a dozen other guys, Lyndsey — played with plucky brassiness by Lyndsey Doolen — in one episode is trying to determine how small her date’s dick is by, among other things, analyzing the sound of his urine stream. Lyndsey is the show’s scene stealer; she’s acerbically funny and slutty, a winning combination for anyone, while Candis Phlegm — who suffers a disastrous date with a man who refers to himself as a certified cinephile — grounds the humor with nonplussed bossiness.
Written and starring Jessica Mills, Awkward Embraces is both charmingly clumsy and, at times, clumsily charming. It is a “web series,” but don’t hold that against it. Yes, the production values are shoestring, and it looks as though its staged in the actresses’ living rooms. But good comedy doesn’t have to cost much, it just has to ring true, as it does uncomfortably well in Awkward Embraces. Better still, the meager budget means the show can’t afford a laugh track, which suits it just fine since you won’t need a cue to know when to laugh.
Awkward Embraces recently kicked off its second season. You can catch up on all 10 of the first season’s episodes — which range from five to seven minutes each — over on the show’s website, before watching season two, which airs weekly on Fridays.