Inbetween The Inbetweeners

I’m an adult who still loves watching classic Sesame Street; yet I feel way too old for Hollyoaks. I laugh ’til I cry at Fred Quimby-produced Tom and Jerry, but every single cartoon on kids channel Jetix leaves me cold. I’m at an age where my mum was enjoying Murder She Wrote the first time around and, years later, I still feel too young for the repeats on Alibi. I mention this because I was invited to the press launch for the second series of E4’s The Inbetweeners, and found myself… well … inbetween The Inbetweeners, as it were; I didn’t love it. But I didn’t hate it either.

Somehow I missed this the first time around (where was I?) and wondered if it would live up to all the hype and assurances from colleagues that it was funnier than a Westlife video. To some extent, it did. Kinda. We were treated to the first two episodes of the second series. It’s no exaggeration to say that the loudest guffaws were from the men. I’m told by blokes in this office that The Inbetweeners, far more so than Skins, is a hilarious reminder of their own awkward, embarrassing school days. Clearly it has tapped into a common shared experience: desperation. If Smell-O-Vision worked on the small screen, The Inbetweeners would give off sweaty armpits, sweaty feet, sweaty hands, Lynx and funky underwear.

For the uninitiated, this is a comedy about four teenagers growing up in suburbia. It’s a world of constant attempts to fit in and constant attempts to lose one’s virginity. A world of futile crushes, sibling brawls, getting drunk too quickly, fancying the girl next door, casting aspersions on the sexuality of yer mates and raging hormones. Unlike Skins, the cast are more than a few years older than the gormless teens they’re portraying.

Simon Bird plays Will, a boy whose parents have divorced so he has unwillingly moved and changed schools. Previously at a private school, he has taken his snobbish tendencies to the local comprehensive. His new set of friends are: Simon (Joe Thomas), who is hopelessly besotted with Carli D’Amato (Emily Head); Jay (James Buckley), forever boasting about sexual conquests that are just a little too far-fetched to believe and finally there’s Neil (Blake Harrison) – if he had a brain cell, the strain would probably kill him. And that’s putting it mildly. He’s easy-going, naive and his dad is definitely not gay… apparently.

Voted the Best New British Television Comedy at the 2008 British Comedy Awards, Thursday’s opener sees the lads endure a sociology and geography field trip to Swanage in the hope of finding the legendary Swanage MILF (mum I’d like to… feel, shall we say). The following episode centres around work experience week (remember that, peeps?). There’ll also be an instalment in which Will, Neil and the lads try to assert their maturity on a clubbing trip to London. That’s just for starters. 

Think an amalgam of an X-rated version of Grange Hill, the Carry On series, the Confessions films starring 70s has-been Robin Askwith, Viz and the likes of Animal House, Porkys and American Pie and you’ve got the idea of The Inbetweeners. There are jokes about a paedophilic teacher ("He rubbed my legs!" "Well that’s what you get for leading on paedos, you slut!"), nympho schoolgirls and, at the drop of a hat, an endless stream of penis gags ("That’s a bit flimsy." "Well I tell you something that won’t be flimsy – my c**k!"). Of course it’s utterly puerile and cringy and there’s nothing here that seasoned viewers haven’t seen before (socks on c**ks? Pah, even the Chili Peppers have done that).

However, in an era when TV teens are impossibly beautiful, impossibly thin, impossibly spot-free (wot, no acne?) and impossibly good at sex (yeah, right) – it’s good to see a group of youngsters that are impossibly clueless. The über-coolness of Skins and 90210 attracts the real teens out there precisely because they’re both so unrealistic (how many UK school riots have you read about? Since when have high performance sports cars been driven to school by yer average Brit kid?). 

The Inbetweeners is for those that safely made it out of that awkward phase. We (especially men) can point and chuckle at the sexual bravado and the sexual inadequacy because we’re a safe distance from it all now (or so we like to think). No way will a real 16-year-old find that stuff a laughing matter – not when they’re living it. However, I was also 16 once. Back then, most of the 16-year-old boys I came across (usually on the bus as I went to an all-girls school) were juvenile and immature with a vocabulary limited to "’Ere, my mate fancies you!" Twenty years or so later and, thanks to The Inbetweeners, it was ever thus.

Today I am mostly lovin’ –
The Wire, daily on BBC2. I’m loving the fact that it’s stripped daily. That’s what I call appointment-to-view television.

Today I am mostly hatin’ – The inconsistency with butchering… sorry… editing evening primetime shows that are screened in daytime drives me mad. I watched Two and A Half Men on the Paramount Comedy Channel (soon to be renamed Comedy Central) and the word ‘ass’ was edited out. Yet the word ‘b*st*rd’ was left in the episode of Frasier that followed. What the heck is that all about?  


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13 Responses to Inbetween The Inbetweeners

  1. Jake says:

    got to love the inbewtweeners – 17 year old lad here lol. Noticed the bit at the bottem, The wire is a brilliant show I have got box sets 1 – 3 and they arent as impresive in my opinon as the first but still worth the watch, season 3 has got recurring characters.

  2. Jo. says:

    Inbewtweeners? i love it. its more realistic than skins.

  3. Mike says:

    No way will a real 16-year-old find that stuff a laughing matter – not when they\’re living it. However, I was also 16 once. Back then, most of the 16-year-old boys I came across (usually on the bus as I went to an all-girls school) were juvenile and immature with a vocabulary limited to "\’Ere, my mate fancies youthats not exactly true we find it funny and 16 years old being immature isnt that what jays all about ?

  4. James says:

    Im a 29 year guy, and frankly its like all the best and the worst bits of school all rolled into one…….The best comedy on british TV today (until the next series of Peep Show)…… I am ashamed to say that I think I was jay at school, and as age catches me up i will become his dad……..

  5. Michele says:

    Seen as we are giving ages a 41 yr old women and i have never laughed as much in my life than when I watch the Inbetweeners..It is the best thing on television..the wit is fantastic..its funny, because I have got my sister into it but my 2 brothers dont find it funny at all????

  6. Amy says:

    I\’m a 16 year old girl, and I find it hilarious. The fact that it is so realistic is what makes it so funny. \’No way will a real 16-year-old find that stuff a laughing matter – not when they\’re living it.\’Definately not true!

  7. Daiman says:

    I\’m an 18 year old lad, and have recently just been through the days of year 12… and I have to say that this has to be one of the most acurate portrayals of teenagers and their school life, that is shown on TV… ok, some of it may be a little exaggerated, but then again what isn\’t on tv these days. The "conversations", antics and happenings give a wierd take on life as an "avarage" teenager but it is a very realistic depiction, and its great to see it from a different perspective, because it feels so much different when you\’re in that situation yourself, even though its probably very much the same! And what make the Inbetweeners funnier for me is that my group of friends and I seem to have an uncanny likeliness to Will, Simon, Jay and Niel at times… whether that\’s a good thing or a bad thing is left for others to decide, haha 😛

  8. Sam says:

    its like skins in reality.

  9. Lyndsay says:

    I absolutely love this show I am a 27yr old woman (with the mental age of 15 I think!) and my husband and I watch avidly. It is such an accurate take on the \’real\’ lives of 16/17yr old boys. My husband relates to most of the antics muttering "I remember doing stuff like that". It is hilariously funny to reminisce about the things that happened at school to most of us, that we have all forgotten about as they just seemed mundane and "SO NOT FUNNY" at the time.

  10. S a a m m m says:

    im an 18 yr old girl and I love the inbetweeners its wel hilarious and sooo true but i never liked skins so i dont think its much like skins really

  11. david says:

    The Inbetweeners is an accurate portrayal of 16/18 year olds. It reminds me of my school days and I\’m 58. Just goes to show that with all the modern technology etc things have not really changed very much.

  12. Matthew says:

    You say 16 year olds don\’t love this? I\’m 16 and it\’s my favourite TV Show of all time. >.> haha

  13. David says:

    The licence fee has gone up again but the standard of programmes has dropped. We are flooded with football, on the assumption that all viewers are football fans, we are also subjected to constant snippets of programmes or future episodes, some these same shows are shown within 30 minutes of the "adverts". Time and money is wasted on "National Lottery" shows, why? You do not show the daily draw or the Wednesday draw or the European draw, so why subject the nation to a show in prime time that is absolutly a waste of money? is this another sign on prime time filler gone mad? The plots on Eastenders are getting more bizzarre. Any more mystery hidden relatives going to make a showing? As for strictly come dancing, the presenters need to make their minds up as to whether this is a "Celebrity" popularity show or a dance contest. There is so much time in "Waffle" between dances, and flash back to interview friends/relatives and fans, how they did in practice, how they thought they did after the dance that by the end of the programme it is difficult for the voter to remember how they danced. I video the show and watch next day, while BBC are showing their repeat programmes, and find that by watching just the dancing, the score from the panel and the final result section I can compress the whole show into under 1 hour. The rest is just a time filler waste. Why do programmes have to have two presenters? If the BBC is serious about cost cutting then cut out the waste of time during shows, reduce the amount of presenters. Instead of some big name celebrity, why not hire a person that will just announce the next artiste and then get off? Just think of the time you can save, to allow you to show more repeats, and thereby reduce your production costs even further.

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