The year is 2008. You’re a teenager in the London suburbs, just making your way through secondary school while trying unsuccessfully to avoid falling in the category of what the kids call a “briefcase wanker.” To make matters worse, your friend’s father has just bought him a disgustingly yellow Fiat Cinquecento, consequently banishing you and your friends to the lowest tier of society’s ranks.
But you’re still having a good time, and that’s what ultimately matters — apart from getting a girlfriend, of course.
Available on Netflix, “The Inbetweeners” is a comforting, crass and charming British sitcom following four awkward lads through their time at Rudge Park Comprehensive. “The Inbetweeners” consists of narrator and pretentious new student Will (Simon Bird), lovelorn fool Simon (Joe Thomas), chronic liar Jay (James Buckley) and happy-go-lucky dimwit Neil (Blake Harrison), all of whom are cursed with hapless undoing as they come of age. From Simon hopelessly trying to get his crush, Carli (Emily Head), to “unfriendzone” him to Jay constantly boasting about the lewd acts he supposedly committed that day, it’s all good adolescent fun taken to the next level.
These dynamics could very well end in a complete disaster, but with meticulously placed jokes and the perfect level of unrefined humor, “The Inbetweeners” is cunningly funny. The show has some sort of endearing, boyish quality that prevents you from looking away, no matter how gross things get. Right down to the theme song, aptly titled “Gone Up in Flames,” the show is a hot, binge-worthy mess.
Sadly, “The Inbetweeners” is devastatingly short, offering only three seasons for a total of 18 episodes. But sometimes, shows are best enjoyed in moderation. Each episode tells its own outrageous story while following character development that, while adding more likeable personality traits to each member, inevitably makes each of them come off more and more as lost teens deserving of empathy. Jay in particular begins to show a much softer side as he is put into sexual situations that are less exciting than he imagined and as his verbally abusive father begins to publicly call out Jay’s exaggerations. With each season, the four get older and therefore get into more mischief, not learning the slightest from past follies.
The humor is intended to shock, full of physical gags, innuendos and unfortunate events. The boys make bad decision after bad decision, but viewers, reflecting back on their own lives, can’t help but wonder if they would’ve made the same terrible choice if given the option. The hallmark of the show, undoubtedly, is its relatability.
Everything you dearly hope won’t go wrong in a given situation horribly does, and in some strange nature, becomes much worse. Simon shows up at Carli’s house and spray-paints his love for her on her driveway, later puking on her younger brother after an alcohol-fueled visit to her house. Will agrees to not partake in drug use with his friends, but he later he eats a whole ounce of weed at a concert and stumbles onstage to request either an ambulance or his mother, thinking he is “currently dying.” This is just the tip of the iceberg. You can’t help but feel for the characters, sometimes visualizing yourself in the same scenarios (hopefully on a less ridiculous scale).
But underneath the show’s crude exterior, there is the heartwarming theme of rock-solid friendship that stands against the antics the four inexplicably get themselves into. After each snafu, the boys are, without fail, more closely bonded. In a heartfelt ending to the last season, this friendship is further solidified by a necessary reflection on why the four clearly need each other.
“The Inbetweeners” holds a unique place in sitcom history. Airing from 2008 to 2010, amid the start of the golden age of sitcoms, the show indirectly works to unify TV watchers. A coming-of-age show geared toward juveniles may have been easy to dismiss as someone not directly reflected in the show, but many viewers saw something for everyone. Whether it reminds you of your high school days or of you and your friends still wreaking havoc like the “Pussay Patrol,” “The Inbetweeners” is a classic that can be infinitely revisited without losing a bit of its charm.
Even though the UK’s Channel 4 calls it “a bunch of lads behaving sadly,” “The Inbetweeners” is much more than that: It’s a show about friendship, togetherness and childlike enjoyment. But describing it does it no justice — “The Inbetweeners” is a show meant to be watched and immersed in. It’s a show to live vicariously through, reliving some of the best years we shared during these trying times.
“The Inbetweeners” is available to stream on Netflix.
“Streaming Diaries” articles are recommendations from Daily Cal staff members on underrated content available on streaming platforms.
Contact Pooja Bale at [email protected].