Every now and then, a TV program comes along that just knocks your socks off and becomes, for you, must-see TV. For me, that show is The Inbetweeners on BBC America. It is easily the funniest thing that I’ve seen on TV in years. I’ve watched the first three episodes thus far, and they’ve all had me absolutely howling with laughter.
The Inbetweeners focuses on a group of four friends at a comprehensive school (high school) in the suburbs outside of London. Will (Simon Bird) is new at the school, having previously been at an all-male private school. After Will’s parents divorce, he has to leave his posh school for the public school system. He becomes fast friends with Simon (Joe Thomas), Jay (James Buckley), and Neil (Blake Harrison). While it is a comedy, The Inbetweeners perfectly captures what it is like to be 16 years old and trying to figure out where you fit in. The dialogue, particularly the lines delivered by James Buckley’s Jay, is quite profane and is filled with sexual references and nasty put-downs. But it is hilarious as well as reflecting the way that young people speak to one another. Iain Morris and Damon Beasley, the show’s writers (who have also written for HBO’s The Flight of the Conchords), reportedly based most of the storylines of The Inbetweeners on things that actually happened to them in their youth. For their sake, I hope that neither of them ever projectile vomited onto the head of the younger brother of the girl they liked, as the Simon character does in the second episode to great comic effect.
In addition to razor-sharp dialogue, The Inbetweeners also boasts a fantastic soundtrack filled with music by some of the hottest artists in the UK. Among the artists whose music has been featured on the show are Rihanna, Kate Nash, Arctic Monkeys, The Fratellis, The Libertines, and Mumm-Ra. The title sequence features the song “Gone Up In Flames” by Morning Runner.
Marsha Shandur, the XFM London DJ, is the music consultant for The Inbetweeners. Writing in her blog last year, Marsha discussed that role:
The actual process of choosing the music is an odd one and much harder than I’d anticipated. Essentially, it’s someone saying, “Here’s a scene. Now here’s every song that’s ever been written since the beginning of the history of time. Pick one!”, which feels a little like standing on the edge of a cliff. In the end I came up with a method: I went through the last few years’ ‘Best of the Year’ mailers, and then my flatmate’s iTunes, and noted any songs that might be appropriate (due to the fact that it’s a comedy, it immediately ruled out all my Fionn Regan/Laura Marling-type misery music). On bits of A5, I wrote down how each of those songs makes me feel. Then I watched the scene I needed to soundtrack, and wrote down how that made me feel. Then I searched through my scraps of paper looking for a match (“anticipatory and excited”, “anticipatory, but slightly doom laden”, “mild disaster and panic, with an edge of it being funny for others” -if you’ve ever read my mailer, you’ll know that’s pretty much the way I tend to describe music to myself). Then I would play the DVD with the scene on one computer, the song on another simultaneously, and see how it fit. Then I’d suggest between three and five songs for each scene. I’ve since met sync people who do this full time, and they all think I’m crazy for being so thorough. They say they just watch it and think of a couple of songs and email them through a list. I think it says more about my OCD tendencies, or perhaps just that I hate doing a job in a way that could have been done better (there’s the reason I’m so apologetic about the writing here…).
To read Marsha’s full blog piece, click here.
For a full list of the music played in the series, click here and then click the individual episode links.
The first two series of The Inbetweeners have aired on the digital channel E4 in the UK. A feature film with the characters from the show is being developed. BBC America is currently screening the first series. The first three episodes have been shown so far, and they are available to watch anytime on BBC America On Demand. All three of the episodes are stellar.
Unfortunately, BBC America censors the program. The F-bombs and certain other terms get bleeped out. It’s annoying because the bleeps sometimes bleed over and obscure other dialogue. I think that censoring the show is absurd. They even censor the versions on BBC America On Demand that don’t have commercials (so there are no sponsors to “offend”). I don’t get that at all. Perhaps they did so in hopes that fans of the show will buy the DVDs in the future to get the uncensored versions.
New episodes of The Inbetweeners are currently airing on BBC America on Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. Eastern.
For more on The Inbetweeners, go to: