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?
MSN Editor Coops
Don’t miss a trick – Add MSN Reality TV Agent to your IM contacts
|StumbleUpon||Technorati||Yahoo! My Web|