The Inbetweeners

TV: The Inbetweeners (2008-2010)
Created by: Damon Beesley & Ian Morris
Language: English and a bit of French
Length: 3 seasons of 6 episodes (18 total) of 23 minutes each
Finished watching on: 30 May, 13 Jun, 21 Jun 2012
Film #60: The Inbetweeners Movie
Directed by: Ben Palmer
Language: English
Length: 97 minutes
Watched on: 23 Jun 2012

I’ve kind of had this show on my radar for a few years now, and I’d seen a few episodes in the past before I started watching it in May. It was always billed in contrast to Skins, which I did quite like for its first two years or so before I became to old for it and all the characters changed (not a good way to keep viewers), but which was always criticised for being unrealistic; there do exist people who have debaucherous parties and do lots of drugs like in Skins, but a much greater proportion of people actually didn’t, which is where this show comes in.

I’d be hesitant to call The Inbetweeners “realistic”, because at the end of the day it’s a comedy, but most of the situations in the show are ones that most teenage boys come across while they’re at school, even though basically everything that happens is above and beyond anything that would happen in real life. It’s cringe comedy, for sure, but unlike most cringe comedy that just keeps getting cringier as the episode goes on (I’m not such a fan of this), this one goes past the level of cringe and becomes funny again just through surpassing the reality of a situation and becoming ridiculous.

It follows the adventures of a group of four high school boys, who spend most of the show trying unsuccessfully to get girls. Or rather, occasionally they’re successful but only one of them’s lost his virginity by the end of the show.

The characters are all funny and consistent, and seem to be true to life in some form or another. They manage to exaggerate their characteristics quite well in general. Their parents are just as exaggerated.

So in general, I liked it and found it quite easy to watch. I guess one of my main criticisms is that they can come across as very homophobic at times; I kind of understand that this is to do with the realism factor; that teenage boys really are often like that… it’s still a little bit disconcerting for me because even when I was in the closet and at high school it wasn’t quite as bad.

Another disappointing factor of the show is that there’s only 18 episodes – and most American series produce more than that for a single season. We could have endless discussions of the merits of both of these; in the end I’d like to have seen more of this show as it is, but one of the main advantages of short seasons is better writing; the episodes of this are very tightly plotted, because they’re essentially fitting more material into a shorter space, a lot of the time, whereas American shows often have pointless filler. On a more depressing note, I hear that there will be an American version of this show coming out next year or something. Just because it worked for one or two shows (The Office and Queer As Folk are the two examples I can think of off the top of my head that are more popular in the American version) doesn’t mean they have to try it for everything! But it’s kind of ironic in a way, because it’ll come out with 12 episodes at once, already more than half the episodes of the original.

Anyway, it’s sent off quite nicely at the end of the third season, with one of the characters being packed off to Wales, but a year or so later the imaginatively-titled The Inbetweeners Movie came out, and does pretty much what it promises (the guy mentions idly at the beginning that Wales never happened, but doesn’t bother to explain it to us… it doesn’t really matter, though). This one sees the boys off to Crete for a holiday, so it’s got a few fish-out-of-water moments, but is basically more of the same. My main criticism with this one is that it stands in contrast to the pessimism of the TV show. Perhaps this is a movie thing where audiences have to be satisfied with a happy ending at the end of a film, or perhaps it’s because they want to send the characters off in a nicer way than the rather depressing ending of the series (although rumours are that they want to create a fourth series, which I don’t see working), but essentially (plot spoiler warning) the boys meet a lovely group of four girls, almost like the opposite-gender versions of themselves, pair off almost instantly, and after mostly false starts for most of the movie end up together at the end. Somehow. Each storyline is different, of course, and the problems that the boys encounter with the girls vary for each one of them, but I’d have much preferred it if they’d just had a good time, come back and got on with their lives. Or if they hadn’t just paired off with the first girls they meet on the island.

So that’s my main beef with that film, anyway. I couldn’t tell you if it rings true in any other area because that sort of holiday resort doesn’t appeal to me. It’s pretty much what I’d imagine a place like that to be, though. Debauchery… so becoming more like Skins. Full circle…

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3 Responses to The Inbetweeners

  1. Finlay says:

    Incidentally, 60th film and 100th blog post. Hooray!

    Also, this one was particularly bad for finding screenshots of the show itself; most pictures I could find online are publicity shots of the characters… >:(

  2. nicrobertson says:

    Great reviews Finlay, you derserve to get hired by a big newspaper soon! Hope Japan is going well.

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