The Inbetweeners

I've been watching a ton of great comedy recently, with many of the shows originating from England. One of my favorites, the Inbetweeners has been running on BBC America and follows a group of friends as they navigate the choppy waters of adolescence. Will is a straight-laced, well-mannered young man who dresses in business casual and has a flair for sarcastic comments. Jay is a foulmouthed fellow with one thing on his mind; the ladies. Luckily for the ladies, he expresses his desire for them in such vulgar terms that there's no real danger he might actually snap one. Simon is overly earnest and in love with a girl called Carli, who has been friends with him for a long time but doesn't see him in a romantic light. Neil is quite tall and thin and has some social issues. He's oblivious to things that his friends find embarrassing, having lots of fun doing the robot at an awful dance at a campground in the middle of nowhere, and wearing the word's most inappropriate tuxedo to the school dance.

As the series begins, Will's parents have split and he and his mother are having to slash their budget. As a result he's starting a new school, where he is immediately labeled a briefcase wanker (with clumpy shoes no less) and has to wear a giant green button saying he's a new student. Naturally he doesn't make many new friends right off the bat, but is finally accepted by Neil, Simon and Jay. All three of them are infatuated with Will's Mum, who is very fit and they frequently discuss how much they want to have sex with her, to Will's horror and dismay.

Many of the most wince-inducing (and hilarious) scenes from the show are reenactments of events that happened to one of the writers when he was young, which is part of what makes this show so great. The scenes may be ridiculous but they're also authentic. The embarrassment, mortification, longings and confusion of the teen years come through in a completely believable fashion. When Will meets Charlotte, a beautiful and confident young lady who invites him over to her place for sex he is completely over his head. He lies and says he's not a virgin, in fact he had sex just last week, but when push comes to shove (sorry) he has no idea what to do. Charlotte suggests he move his hips but the writer said that when he was in the same situation he was unable to remember how to do that and just ended up making a complete fool of himself.

This isn't an unusual state of affairs for Will or his friends. At various times Will ends up hitting a handicapped woman in the head with a Frisbee, sliding around a gym in his socks while a girl tries to hook up with him, being tossed into a fetid pond by a couple of insulted mechanics, and Neil ends up shivering in a boat in front of his peers, wearing only a gym sock in a strategic location. These events are natural results of the friends' characters; their clumsiness, inability to shut their mouths and general social awkwardness.

While the Inbetweeners deals with many of the same issues as Skins, another import from the BBC, such as underage drinking, sex, peer pressure, etc, Inbetweeners is less silly and flippant. While both shows have ridiculous happenings, Skins' scenes come off as contrived while the Inbetweeners' are more organic. I also like the way the Inbetweeners' portrays its sexually liberated young ladies. Charlotte, the girl Will is interested in, is very confident and secure in herself. She knows what she wants and she goes after it, asking Will out and also telling him off with equal comfort. Instead of slut shaming and degrading her for being in touch with her sexuality the Inbetweeners treats her as a normal human being, which is a treat. The characters on Skins are sexually active, (some would say excessively so) but in a frenetic, drugged, driven way, that seems to underscore their inherent unhappiness. Sexuality is an expression of dissatisfaction instead of a celebration. But maybe that's just part of the difference between a drama and a comedy.

The Inbetweeners is also available online, according to the results of my quick Google search.

One-Paragraph Review

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