Skip to main content

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?

Popular posts from this blog

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .

BBC Culture: Matthew Weiner: Mad Men’s creator on its final episodes

The creative force behind the period drama talks about where his characters are as his show begins its final episodes. “We left off with everyone’s material needs being met in an extreme way,” says Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner of where we last saw the characters on his critically acclaimed period drama when the show went on hiatus 10 months ago. “Then the issue is, what else is there?” That is the central question with the return to US TV of the AMC hit, one demanding to be answered by both the show’s characters, and its creator whose success is the envy of the television industry. Mad Men has been a defining part of Weiner’s life for the last 15 years. He wrote the pilot script on spec while he was a staff writer on CBS’ Ted Danson sitcom Becker in 1999, using it to land a writing gig on HBO’s The Sopranos in 2002. It would take another five years, filled with multiple rejections, before the first episode of Mad Men would make it on the air. Someone with less determination or vision

Have a Burning Question for Team Darlton, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, or Michael Emerson?

Lost fans: you don't have to make your way to the island via Ajira Airways in order to ask a question of the creative team or the series' stars. Televisionary is taking questions from fans to put to Lost 's executive producers/showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and stars Matthew Fox ("Jack Shephard"), Evangeline Lilly ("Kate Austen"), and Michael Emerson ("Benjamin Linus") for a series of on-camera interviews taking place this weekend. If you have a specific question for any of the above producers or actors from Lost , please leave it in the comments section below . I'll be accepting questions until midnight PT tonight and, while I can't promise I'll be able to ask any specific inquiry due to the brevity of these on-camera interviews, I am looking for some insightful and thought-provoking questions to add to the mix. So who knows: your burning question might get asked after all.