Credit: MTV

Is Jenna Hamilton the new Taylor Swift?

When MTV’s Awkward. returns for Season 3B, Jenna’s poor judgment in the midseason finale finally catches up to her. But will her little kiss with Collin lead to something more? And more importantly, how will it influence her relationship with her boyfriend Matty?

Wetpaint Entertainment chatted with Awkward. star Ashley Rickards to get the scoop on Jenna’s complicated love life, her “experimental” new look (she’s finally braid-free!), and what new surprises are in store for the students of Palos Hills High — oh, and cat strollers.

Wetpaint Entertainment: Are you ready for fans to kind of hate Jenna this season?

Ashley Rickards: Am I? Meaning, do I have curtains so people can’t see into my apartment? Yes. I literally have black curtains — I do — but they look great with my teal curtains. They’re a nice musky color. I think at first people will hate Jenna because it’s so easy to live in a world that’s black and white. For the first time, Jenna is not living in that world. She has now made a choice that we all grow up hearing is a bad choice, and it’s just not that black and white. It’s a grey area for her. She’s going to learn the hard way, and she’s going to try and make the best out of it, like she always does, but it’s going to be hard.

It must be really exciting for you, though, to switch things up.

Oh, hell yeah! I’m out of that braid! I’m so excited! That’s not even my real hair. I have extensions, and I’m really surprised that I’m the only person who’s admitting that, but I have a great hair stylist! That’s what they do. I have extensions because I dyed my hair and it got short because it dried up. So, yeah, I’m excited to ditch that braid. It’s double fake — it’s fake on the TV show and it’s literally fake. I’m excited for her to have this new style. It’s really interesting for her to morph into this completely different area that she’s never delved into.

Credit: MTV

What’s her new style?

It’s experimental because her world before was so black and white — which the braid symbolizes — and suddenly, there’s this grey area, sort of like my hotel, the Dream Hotel. I go in there and I’m like, “This is definitely contemporary.” But then there’s a cow couch. I’m calling it a cow couch because it’s literally made out of a cow. It’s a table and a couch. I don’t understand what it is. Is it a footstool? Or is it an endtable? It’s great — it’s just a grey area. I’m very puzzled over it.

Jenna learns a tough lesson this season. She cheats on Matty and realizes the grass isn’t always greener, but there’s something about how it all goes down that feels very realistic. If we took a peek inside any high school right now, something similar could be going down.

And that’s what’s so great! It’s so realistic, and Awkward has always been a show that gets its. But this time, it’s unfortunately realistic. It’s very fun to be able to play that. I always view what I do as an actress as dress-up, and I do it to inspire girls. Limits are ancient. Whatever you want to do, you can do it. You know, Jenna makes a mistake, and I really love that she’s flawed and imperfect and can’t make up her mind.

I think teen shows have a habit of portraying these epic love stories, but in reality, this is high school, where everything seems epic and will most likely end in a few months. Jenna is sort of like the Taylor Swift of Palos Hills High.

I need to learn how to play the guitar! No pressure.

Are there going to be more men in Jenna’s life this season?

Oh, it’s party. Wait, that sounded so weird as soon as I said it. But it’s going to be great to see exactly what’s possible. I’m sorry. I’m doing a horrible job of answering this question because I don’t want to give away too much.

We know everybody finds out what happened between Jenna and Colin, so how does Matty react? Where do Jenna and Matty go from here?

It’s very confusing. I think a lot of people don’t know what they saw or are still processing what they saw. It’s shocking to see this girl you thought was having her happily ever after and totally sabotaging it. People put her up on a pedestal, and it’s going to be really interesting to see how everyone interprets that. In the end, you see that she’s still on a pedestal because everyone is — and they deserve to be.

Credit: MTV Photo: Awkward Season 3: Matty and Jenna

It’s a good thing you’re writing a book because you’re so full of teen wisdom!

Thanks! Well, I’m a genius. I have a sweatshirt that says that. I bought it at Forever 21, and it says Genius University. But only my cat has seen it, so it’s not that effective.

But she thinks you’re a genius.

She really does! She thinks I’m her creator, and I feed her, so I kind of am.

I take it you and your cat are really close.

I have a cat and a cat stroller! Let’s get something straight here. I am a cat lady. I have a robe and matching slippers, and I am proud of it.

Do you take your cat out in the cat stroller?

No, she hates it. I thought she was going to love the stroller. It turns out she didn’t. There’s a reason there’s no cat in a stroller cliche because it doesn’t work. They don’t like it.

Speaking of your book, I hope there’s a chapter on cat strollers. Did you get some good inspiration from Jenna Hamilton?

What I’m really trying to say about the book is that it’s not just for the awkward girl who wants to be less awkward. It’s for the mean girl in the front of the class who makes fun of that awkward girl. Because frankly, I’ve been both, and they both have the same self acceptance issues. There’s a whole world of sadness in that. I just want girls to be happy, and get your sh!t together — since it’s an exclamation point, I don’t really know how to say that. It’s a witty and comedic way to really delve into those issues.

Lena Dunham, the creator and star of Girls, is also releasing an advice book for young women. Is Get You Sh!t Together targeted toward teens?

We have a pretty wide age range. I won’t be muting myself whatsoever. That was a big deal when I was talking to publishers. I really need to be able to broach all of the topics. I feel like teens and young adults, new Millennials, whatever you want to call it, are really censored in terms of the information they get. I wanted it to be informational and meaningful, but also deeply impactful and fun and witty and easy to read. There’s so many wrong ways to to dress yourself up and put a bandaid on things — and I’ve gone my whole life putting bandaids on things. I don’t want anyone to have to put another bandaid on it.

What Awkward does really well is that it knows how to talk to teens. It totally gets the teen dialogue. Was that helpful for you when writing this book?

Right. I was watching The Goldbergs last night for the first time, and it was so subtle and brilliant. It’s shot as an ode to the ‘80s! Stylistically, it totally feels like you’re watching something from the ‘80s, beyond the hair and costumes. Thinking about that, when I was writing the book, Awkward definitely has that very specific lingo, but that lingo is just our generation. We move quicker and we talk faster. We adapt to our environment when our environment won’t adapt to us. I’m not trying to talk down to anyone or talk up to anybody. There are experts in each section because I’m not an expert in everything — whoa, breaking news! — but I have a lot of experiences that I think can help people.

Catch the Season 3B premiere of MTV’s Awkward. on Tuesday, October 22 at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Crystal Bell is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident fangirl. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!