By Lanford Beard
Updated April 17, 2013 at 02:00 PM EDT
Credit: Matthias Clamer/MTV

Last night, Awkward.‘s supersized season premiere proved double the pleasure, double the stun with a couple pregnancy scares, a death, lots of Jamara canoodling, and one truly unfortunate YOLO-inspired tattoo on Matty’s upper thigh.

Beau Mirchoff, who plays Matty, and Molly Tarlov (the show’s main mean girl Sadie) told EW that last night’s episodes were just the tip of the iceberg for the show, which will chronicle the gang’s junior year in season 3. Though Mirchoff and Tarlov acknowledged their characters will find themselves in some unexpected places over the next 18 episodes, there’s one predictable outcome that will comfort fans: Matty will be showing off his six-pack as much as possible. Read on…

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The title of the season 3 premiere was “Cha Cha Cha Changes,” but Matty seemed least changed of all. How will we see him evolve, especially in terms of his relationship with Jenna?

Beau Mirchoff: That’s funny that you say that. You’re right. Now he’s had the whole summer to be with Jenna. They’ve been with each other nonstop, blossoming their relationship. When they get back, Matty’s a little naïve, and he doesn’t realize that things maybe won’t be the same when you go back to school where you have all your friends and whatever insecurities of high school. As the season progresses, I think you’ll notice there is a lot of change in Matty. He’s evolved in a lot of ways. He realizes what he has in Jenna, and he loves her dearly and wants to make it work. Also, you get to learn about Matty’s home life and why he was a little insecure. He’s really honest about his feelings and where he is in life. I’m happy that Matty is evolving, and I think you will be, too.

When I spoke to series creator Lauren Iungerich, she also mentioned Matty’s insecurities. What can you share?

Mirchoff: One that was touched upon last season was Matty’s relationship to his brother, who battles with addiction. That’s still in the forefront. Matty’s always felt a little second-fiddle to his older brother. You see that a little. You see how Matty’s parents are for the first time. And you see that Matty doesn’t really have a strong foundation. He’s kind of out there in the open alone, and it’s sad. You see that he’s desperate for someone, for some love, some continuity in his life.

After Ricky’s death, it seems like both Matty and Sadie were working harder than the others to keep things under the surface.

Molly Tarlov: We’ll see more as the episodes go on how everybody reacts to it. We’ll see a kind of coming together where everyone is able to express their feelings.

Mirchoff: For Matty, he goes on that gut feeling of “Life is short” and “You want to live life to the fullest.” It was interesting and funny and also real. If that happened in my life, I think I might react in a similar fashion.

With a tattoo on your thigh?

Mirchoff: I’d totally get tatted up! [Laughs]

Sadie deals with a lot of loss as the new season opens. She wasn’t the friendliest beforehand, and I imagine it’ll only get worse. How dark will Sadie go?

Tarlov: We’re going to see it a different kind of way. As you said, she’s dealing with a lot of loss. We’re going to see her more down as opposed to aggressive — she’ll still be aggressive, but it’s kind of going to be a little more, I guess, pathetic. But we’re going to see a lot more of what’s going on with her. It’s funny and real as well as…

Mirchoff: Sexy!

Tarlov: And sexy. Yeah, there’s a lot of fun stuff that’s going to happen, and it kind of feels like everything’s not going Sadie’s way.

Beau, Matty will have a little competition this season in Jenna’s writing classmate Collin (Nolan Funk). What happens when Matty and Collin meet?

Mirchoff: I know in Awkward., there are a lot of parties. Maybe they meet at a party or gathering. Off the bat, Matty isn’t jealous of him or thinking there’s anything going on with Jenna. And maybe there’s not — you have to watch. Matty’s very open to people when he first meets them. He sees this guy who is helping Jenna with her schoolwork, and there is no aggression or anything like that. But! Maybe there is later in the season. I don’t know yet because we haven’t filmed it.

Is it safe to say you’re getting in shape for that day? You already had one shirtless scene, so I’m sure we can expect more.

Mirchoff: Ha! Yes. Pretty much every episode, I’ll have my shirt off.

NEXT: The fate of Matty and Jake’s bromance, the unexpected return of Madie, and the softer side of Sadie…

Speaking of love triangles, even though the Matty-Jake-Jenna love triangle is finished, there’s still a bit of a challenge from Jake, who communicates with Jenna much more easily than Matty. How does that play out?

Mirchoff: You’d think it would. Matty’s not jealous of Jake. He wants to be more like Jake when he tells Jenna, ‘I wish it was easy for us.’ It’s very simple for Jake, and he wants that. Matty has to think about things, and he gets insecure. But that doesn’t affect Matty and Jake’s relationships. That’s water under the bridge. They have short memories. They love each other. They’re dudes. There’s no animosity whatsoever between them.

Tarlov: I think a lot of this season is different people defining what kind of relationships they want to have. We all go through that in high school, and perhaps after high school, where you’re in all types of relationships, and every relationship is different. There’s the kind of Jake and Tamara, where they’re obsessed with each other and so out-there. There’s a little bit more romantic relationship like Jenna and Matty have, which is less friendly as it is…

Mirchoff: Passionate.

Tarlov: Yeah. We’ll see everyone kind of defining and redefining their relationships.

Where does Sadie fit into that?

Tarlov: Sadie will have a new romance this season. I’m really excited. I was totally smitten when I was reading it. [To Mirchoff] I think you liked it, too.

Mirchoff: It’s wonderful.

Tarlov: Also, Sadie and Matty spend a lot more time together this season. Sadie was unsure whether she wanted to let anybody in last season. Ricky was so persistent and kind of suave and charming that she finally let her guard down, which perhaps didn’t work out in her favor. She’s going to have to break that down again.

We didn’t get to see any Sadie art at Ricky’s exhibition, by the way.

Tarlov: I think Sadie pulled her stuff from the gallery.

Mirchoff: Matty bought it all.

Back in season 2, we saw you two kiss. This season, will there be any more Sadie-Matty heat?

Mirchoff: Maybe some friction. [Laughs] Matty and Sadie have known each other for a long time. They understand each other. They may not agree with each other all the time, but they definitely know each other. There are some moments this season when they’re both feeling alone, isolated, and worthless. They’re able to help each other through those times.

Tarlov: Sadie feels very protective of Matty, so that affects her relationship with Jenna — and his relationship with Jenna.

What is the most unexpected thing we’ll see from your characters this season?

Mirchoff: For Matty, you’ve gotten to know him through the first two seasons in a certain way. The third season is a little bit of a 180 — maybe not a 180, maybe like a 110. He becomes kind of romantic and passionate and comfortable with his relationship. He’s in love, and he’s okay with it. He wants what’s best for him and for Jenna. I think you’ll be able to root for him a little bit this year.

Tarlov: Ummm, yeah. As if we weren’t rooting for him before! On the other hand, I think that some people who hate Sadie might like her a little bit.

Mirchoff: You get to see some depth in Sadie. This year in particular, you really start liking Sadie. You see she’s extremely flawed below it all, and [she has] motives in what [she’s] doing — everything isn’t just vindictive. It’s for someone sometimes.

Awkward. airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on MTV.

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