E4 has tackled teenagers before with mixed results. Skins showed promise before descending into gimmickry and pretension. And if you saw the 19-year-old Aerial Telly was "tackling" last weekend you would agree that teenagers can be a handful. So how to handle a comedy about teenagers? Is it not doomed to failure? Comedy is hard to write at the best of times never mind taking into account the insanity of adolescence. E4 have come up with The Inbetweeners, set in the hell of state school sixth form and you know what? It’s something of a diamond.
The show is narrated by Will, a laughable posh boy fallen on hard times, forced into state education after his father inexplicably leaves his insanely beautiful mother (played by Pielinda Stewart-Wilson). Will quickly makes some reluctant friends in his new hovel. Simon, in love with his childhood friend Carli, the closest thing to sanity we have, Jay, the porn obsessed fantasist who insists he is sexually active when he plainly isn’t, and Neil, a tall boy with a possibly gay dad whose sexuality his friends tactfully avoid (if by avoid we mean mention at every opportunity). Will desperately tries to fit in – he’s gloriously socially inept and is wrong about everything but continues trying with an optimism that heeds no evidence of failure. The boy is definitely more idiot than savant but he has a habit of pulling through. And everyone wants to fuck his mom. Including him probably.
"There’s nothing quite like schoolboy humour at its best, in all its sick self-loathing glory."
The pilot is the best I’ve seen in a long ass time, the second show is also strong and the third was a bit weak. I really want this to stay as good as possible so it gets a second series. There’s nothing quite like schoolboy humour at its best, in all its sick self-loathing glory. The scene where Will walks down the corridor with his briefcase and the "I’m Will – stop me and say Hello" badge the head of year made him wear, running the gauntlet of casual abuse from the rest of the school is just marvellous. Will is the classic fish out of water comedy archetype like Ugly Betty or Joel Fleishman in Northern Exposure. He’s our tour guide through the puerile homophobia and sex obsession he barely understands himself . Keep your eye on this. It could really be a keeper.
The best thing about it: Will – he’s an idiot you can’t help liking.
The worst thing about it: Doesn’t always successfully avoid sitcomland cliche.
The verdict on The Inbetweeners: Potentially groundbreaking comedy.
Marks out of 10: 8