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Follies of Youth: An Advance Review of Seasons One and Two of "The Inbetweeners"

Back in April, I had the opportunity to watch the first three episodes of British teen comedy series The Inbetweeners, created by Damon Beesley and Iain Morris, and instantly fell in love with the series' quirky charms.

Since then, I've had the opportunity to watch the entire first and second seasons of this side-splitting teen series, which will air Stateside later this year on BBC America. Thanks to some Region 2 DVDs picked up in London, I was able to blaze through the painfully hilarious twelve episodes that exist thus far. (It's worth noting that digital channel E4 recently announced that it had commissioned a third season.)

Over the course of twelve half-hour episodes, Morris and Beesley manage to paint a painfully precise picture of a group of four teenage social rejects teetering on the edge of adulthood. They might not be the most popular kids (far from it) or the basest of pariahs, but they're miserably average in every respect, belonging to a group hovering somewhere in the middle of the teenage social hierarchy. Along the way, they get into all manner of mischief that's as shockingly absurd as it is terrifyingly realistic.

The result is akin to a more comedic take on the mordantly excessive youths of Skins. While Skins excels at exposing the dark angst of teenagers' inner lives, The Inbetweeners relishes in the squirm-inducing uncomfortableness and awkwardness of teens who are having far less sex than their Bristol-based counterparts.

Bringing their remarkably maladjusted characters to life are Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, James Buckey, and Blake Harrison, who together ooze the sort of easy camaraderie that American producers would desperately love to harness. It's apparent from watching this talented quartet that their friendship isn't limited to their on-screen antics and that bond is clearly reflected in the rapport they share in scenes together.

It's no easy feat to bear witness to (or, hell, participate in) some of the most embarrassing aspects of male teenagerdom but this group manages to pull off some of rather deft comedy that leaves the audience groaning, gasping, and recalling their own experiences in equal measure.

Though hopefully those experiences don't extend to some of the more absurd and mortifying incidents that these four are involved in. Which over the course of the two seasons extends to such topics as sex, self-love, drinking, test anxiety, driving mishaps, flirting, raging hormones, public nudity, vomiting, bullying, overbearing parents, exchange students, and wig theft. (Yes, you read that last bit correctly.)

But the real charm of The Inbetweeners is that beneath its tart exterior lies a genuine nugget of sweetness. Despite the off-color antics of its group of guys, The Inbetweeners remains one of the most nuanced and realistic portraits of the highs and lows of male friendship on the small screen.

Ultimately, in the hands of Morris and Beesley and ably aided by the delightful cast, The Inbetweeners becomes a comedy that's both painfully hysterical and hilariously cathartic in equal measure. It will make you wistful for your own teen years while making you feel especially lucky that you've left them behind for good.

BBC America will air the first two seasons of The Inbetweeners this autumn.

Comments

Hadley said…
I love this show and am happy to hear that they'll be airing it in the US -- though I don't know how they'll get away with all of the naughty bits (which are the best part)!
MyTBoosh said…
This show is hilarious. I'm glad they are doing a third season. No one does painful, awkward comedy like the Brits (and Larry David).
ryon said…
I can't agree more with this review, true genius and admirable realism went into this show. which not only seems to be a raving success do to the low-brow humor element but what could have been completely summarized by the final scene in season 2 (don't worry, no spoilers here). The constant bickering comradery ("FRIEND? FRIEND!) sends me back to being a youth in the glorious microcosm of male maturation through self-destructive insanity. One of my all time favorite subtle features to this show is Simon's constant abrade disposition towards his mothers every whim. haha the brits could've dug the chunnel with their subtlety. can't wait for the new season!
Susie said…
I am looking forward to this one. Your blog has become my goto for what is worth watching on BBCamerica. Thanks to you I have fallen for Skins, Gavin and Stacey, and Being Human. Thank you!
Shiggy said…
Why the f**k is there so much male nudity!? Is that supposed to be UK humor?

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