Thursday, 15 May 2008
He’s Not A Prince, He’s Not a King
Occasionally there’s a show that you thoroughly expect to dislike, and for reasons you don’t fully understand ends up owning a little corner of your soul. Such a one is The Inbetweeners, currently finding it’s feet on E4 of an evening. Maybe it’s because there are few other shows in 2008 that give you the opportunity to re-visit Sleeper lyrics in blog headlines, but we like to think it goes deeper than that.
Inbetweeners follows four teenage boys in the first year of sixth form, and probably works best if you’re the generation that actually understand the cultural gap between year 11, year 12 and year 13, because those differences are crucial here. Inbetweeners is possibly the only TV show ever written that really understands the burgeoning freedom and weird sense of impending adulthood pushing it’s way through the brains of 17 year old boys, trying their best to be at the same time grown ups who like cars and girls, and schoolboys who like football and their Mum.
Our main way in to the world of adolescent shame and fumbling geekorama is Simon Bird as Will, a bookish posho with a fit Mum who finds himself at a suburban comp, eventually gravitating to the similarly likeable, hopelessly geeky Joe Thomas as Simon. Comedy nerds will recognise the pair as two thirds of excellent House Of Windsor sketch show, and the infamous Cambridge Footlights (no less) from a few years back. Simon is also in this years Chortle Student Comic of the Year finals for something like the 20th time. The duo are paired up with comedy sidekicks and class prats Neil (over-tall, not too bright) played by Blake Harrison and Jay (Loud mouthed, impressionable, bit of a wanker) aka James Buckley. The quartet are so recognisable as the likeable-but-not-faniciable-uncool group everyone who was ever in sixth form either knew or actually were part of. We’re going to come clean and say that was us, which is probably why Inbetweeners Resonates so well for us.
Probably more significant is the shows relationship to Skins: eg, none at all. Both deal with a similar age range, both are E4 products, but their the similarity ends. While Skins is the fast paced, shagging-and-booze life we either wish we had or suspect our younger sisters have, Inbetweeners is the awkward, gangly truth, celebrating the brilliant mediocrity of being 17, of your first mate to learn to drive, your mates inexplicable other mates, and cool people who don't look at you twice.
Who knows what the fates hold for Inbetweeners. It's not edgy enough to gain much media profile, not culty enough to be an underground hit. But it is honest, watchable and absolutely genuine.
Okay it's not a work of art, or anything...it's nothing special, it's not too smart...it's just The Inbetweeners.