A COMEDY FOR THE FACEBOOK GENERATION
-The Inbetweeners offers a painfully funny take on the squirming humiliations of teenage life-
Written and created by Damon Beesley and Iain Morris (Peep Show, Flight of the Conchords) and named the best new sitcom of 2008 at the British Comedy Awards, The Inbetweeners offers a painfully funny take on the squirming humiliations of teenage life. It begins with the new kid in town, Will (Simon Bird), who has unwillingly had to move, change schools and, as a result, make new friends. He soon meets Simon (Joe Thomas), Jay (James Buckley) and Neil (Blake Harrison), who are neither that cool nor that credible. Marooned in middle-class suburbia, The Inbetweeners follows the four friends who get drunk too quickly, ride roller coasters and crush on the girl next door. The Inbetweeners premieres with back to back episodes Monday, January 25th, 9:00p.m. ET/PT. All future episodes premiere on Wednesdays, 9:30p.m. ET/PT.
Will McKenzie is on a bad run. His parents have just divorced, and he has found himself transplanted to a public school in a suburb in outer London. He was previously at a private school, from which he inherited some snobbish tendencies, but his former school also did a good job of preparing him for the world�he's smart, confident, well-read, quick-witted and outspoken. Unfortunately, none of these skills help in the suburban high school where he's landed. In fact, it makes the other kids and teachers deeply suspicious. The harder Will tries to fit in, the more he stands out.
Despite the twin handicaps of being the new kid and carrying an actual briefcase, Will quickly makes new friends. Simon's the first to throw Will a line�reluctantly agreeing to show him around school. He then meets Jay, who's constantly lying about his sexual conquests and daring feats, and Neil, who's really just out to lunch and often the butt of cruel jokes. The four of them will together try to make it through the trials of growing up in middle-class suburbia.
They don't always help the situation when they're together�in fact, they often make situations much worse. Over the course of their first term alone, the boys hall of shame moments include accidentally hitting a disabled girl in the face with a Frisbee, drunkenly puking on a seven-year-old, gate-crashing a funeral cortege, and calling Neil's dad a "bumder," which is equal parts "bender" and "bummer."
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WHAT THE BRITISH PRESS SAID
"The perfect comedy combination of awkward adolescence and provincial towns is at last being exploited... (the show) captures the pathetic sixth-form male experience quite splendidly". � The Guardian
"... exquisitely accurate dialogue, capturing the feel of adolescence perfectly" � The Independent
CAST AND PRODUCTION CREDITS
Will Simon Bird
Simon Joe Thomas
Jay James Buckley
Neil Blake Harrison
Carli Emily Head
Will's Mom Belinda Stewart-Wilson
Simon's Mom Robin Weaver
Simon's Dad Martin Trenaman
Jay's Mom Victoria Willing
Jay's Dad David Schaal
Neil's Dad Alex Macqueen
Headteacher Martin Ball
Mr. Gilbert Greg Davies
Writers and Creators Damon Beesley, Iain Morris
Producer Christopher Young
Director Gordon Anderson
Executive Producers Damon Beesley, Iain Morris
The Inbetweeners is a Bwark Productions production for E4.
*** SPOILER ALERT***
It's a fresh start for Will McKenzie as he joins his new public high school. He previously went to a private school, but since his dad walked out on his mum he's had to downgrade�at least he sees it that way�and leave all his friends behind. As if life wasn't already tough enough, Will quickly makes enemies with the psychotic principal and the school's nut case. In a vain effort to fit in, Will soon attaches himself to a fairly average group�Simon, Jay and Neil�and tags along with them as they try to get served in a pub for the first time. Episode one premieres Monday, January 25, 9:00p.m. ET/PT
Will, Simon, Jay, and Neil decide to cut class. Simon calls the school pretending to be his own mother, but unfortunately the call gets forwarded to the principal. Undeterred, the boys attempt to buy alcohol in disguise, and then head to Neil's to get drunk. Simon has a vodka-induced epiphany about his childhood sweetheart, Carli, and decides to declare his true feelings for her for all the world to see�in graffiti form. Episode two premieres Monday, January 25, 9:30p.m. ET/PT
Simon is about to take his driving exam, and Will, Jay, and Neil are very excited by the prospect of their own driver. The first expedition: Thorpe Park to ride the roller coaster and chase girls. He passes, but Simon is a terrible driver, and rips the door off of his new car while parking. Will is determined this won't ruin their day�they should at least stay for one ride before leaving to get it fixed. But he soon regrets that decision. Episode three premieres Wednesday, January 27, 9:30p.m. ET/PT
Will finds out that a co-ed school has its benefits when he meets Charlotte Hinchcliffe, the most popular girl in the class above him. He becomes obsessed with her and neglects his hard-won new friends. Simon had been getting close to Will, and now finds himself spending more time with Jay and Neil, his old friends who he may be outgrowing. Episode four premieres Wednesday, February 3, 9:30p.m. ET/PT
The boys call Jay's bluff and agree to go to a disco to see if it really is "like a massive orgy." Jay's dad is on hand to give a sex talk, whether they want it or not. When they arrive, they are all shocked to learn that Neil can dance. He really can dance. But things start to go wrong as Will skids, Jay lies, and Simon makes an extraordinary choice on a first date. Episode five premieres Wednesday, February 10, 9:30p.m. ET/PT
It's time for winter break and Will has been voted the chairman of the holiday dance committee. He was the only person who wanted the job, but still. He's taking it seriously and has roped his friends in to help. The dance is a big night for them all, and they're going to do their best to not mess it up. Will wants to show the school that he's worth knowing, Jay wants to DJ, Simon wants to tell Carli how he feels, and Neil wants to hook up with a teacher. Episode six premieres Wednesday, February 17, 9:30p.m. ET/PT
Creators Damon Beesley and Iain Morris and Actors Simon Bird and Joe Thomas on The Inbetweeners:
The Inbetweeners � named the best new sitcom of 2008 at the British Comedy Awards � is about the squirming humiliations of teenage life. Its main characters constantly find themselves in embarrassing situations.
Joe Thomas plays Simon, a gawky sixth former who goes to a mundane suburban comprehensive with the witty but supercilious Will (Simon Bird), the simple-minded Neil (Blake Harrison) and the lecherous Jay (James Buckley). They're not the biggest losers in class, but nor are they cool, attractive or popular. They hide from bullies, are denied service in pubs and repulse girls. In other words, they're a long way from the drug-gobbling, bed-hopping hedonists of another hit series about teenage life, the comedy drama Skins.
"I don't think our show is a reaction to Skins," says Bird, who won the British Comedy Award for best newcomer for season one. "The script was written before Skins was even out. But I think it's popular because it explores the opposite side of teenage life from Skins. Skins is a sort of fantasy about what teenage life is like. It's a very good fantasy, but it's equally important to have a show about the way teenagers actually live their lives."
To call The Inbetweeners realistic may seem far-fetched, given that the characters' escapades in season one included a trip to a theme park that ended with their car being vandalized by the members of a charity for Down's Syndrome. But, though they sound like crude farce, most of the storylines are based on the real-life experience of The Inbetweeners' writer-producers, Damon Beesley and Iain Morris.
"The only thing I had going for me when I was a teenager," says Beesley, who's 37, "was the hope that one day these things would be funny in the retelling." The episode from season one in which the boys skip school to get drunk was "almost a documentary" about a day from his own teenage years, he says, as are the scenes in season two that involve, respectively, an incident with a fish and, shall we say, an amorous moment at a disco.
"The way I lost my virginity was the way Will attempts to lose his in the first series," says Morris, who's 35. "The girl really did say to me, �Don't move your whole body, just move your hips.' I remember thinking, �This is going very badly�'"
Morris and Beesley � who have also co-written two episodes of the HBO sitcom Flight of the Conchords � both used to work as comedy commissioners, Morris for Channel 4 (where he commissioned Peep Show and Phoenix Nights) and Beesley for E4. The idea for The Inbetweeners arrived during a spell when they were living together as roommates (an arrangement more or less forced upon them, as both had just been dumped by their girlfriends).
"We would get drunk and make each other laugh about our tragic lives as teenagers," says Morris. "We liked films such as American Pie and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and wanted to write something like them � about boys and delaying maturity."
Looking for actors to play the lead roles, they spotted Simon Bird, who's from Guildford, and Joe Thomas, from Chelmsford, at a revue the two starred in as members of Cambridge University's sketch group Footlights. "Initially they ignored me and just got Joe to audition," says Bird, "and Joe didn't even get the part. A year later, it was the week before filming and they still hadn't cast anyone for these two roles. I think they were so desperate they just opened their phone book and went, �Oh God, who do we know?'"
With its cheerful puerility, The Inbetweeners may sound unlikely to win many fans who are much older than its characters but Morris defends their use of colorful language: "We wanted to make the show as true as we could: this is how kids speak." In any case, he says, "We didn't receive a single complaint about the first season. One person phoned up to say how much they enjoyed watching it with their two teenage daughters � they said it was like sitting round the radio in the 1940s. Which is possibly going too far the other way�"
However rude their characters are, Bird and Thomas insist that they, at that age, were much better-behaved. That's not to say they experienced less embarrassment, or were more confident around girls.
"I remember a party where there was a girl I fancied, and we were both drunk," says Thomas. "She kept hugging me and giving me little kisses on the lips. I really wanted to pull her, but I couldn't, because I was always terrified I would try to kiss a girl and they'd withdraw in revulsion." There is a pause. "You know," says Bird, "I think when they're kissing you, it's probably OK to kiss them back. That's normally a sign. I mean, it doesn't get much less coded than that."
Published in full in The Guardian, Michael Deacon (March 27, 2009)