At first glance, The Inbetweeners doesn't seem like very much. In the current climate of comedies and comedy-dramas meant to appeal to the adolescent college-graduate-in-waiting, headed by the effervescent Skins, it comes in as a sort of awkward cousin to the King that is Skins. But, The Inbetweeners should not be written off as a copycat of its E4 relation.
Based around a private-school educated protagonist named Will, who is thrown into a hectic life of comprehensive schooling, underage drinking and, inevitably, sex, the show logs his futile attempts at leading some semblance of a normal life, making friends, going drinking, inevitably with disastrous consequences. Particular highlights are his indignant assertion to a local barman that "everyone in this pub is underage!", upon being refused alcohol, resulting in the whole pub being ejected, and his sex-fanatic new friend Jay miming doing "the business" on a coffee table.
The Inbetweeners is aimed expressly at young people, that much is evident from the soundtrack featuring the zeitgeist artists of the moment. However, like Skins, it can be viewed and certainly relished by any adult with an open mind; after all, everyone was a teenager once.
In writing The Inbetweeners, Damon Beesley and Iain Morris have provided what was becoming a stagnant comedy scene with a breath of fresh air. Yes, hormonal and sex-driven it may be (the tagline reads, "Basically, they just want to get laid"), but therein lies the appeal. With the screens flooded with serious dramas and, frankly depressing soap operas, the idea of being able to sit back once a week and smile for half an hour would be appealing to anyone. The Inbetweeners frequently transcends the boundary between a wry smile and full-on laughter with surprisingly subtle "trigger" moments. For example, when Will's friend Simon turns up to the love of his life's house, only to be sick on her small brother.
The main laughs derive from the exquisitely accurate dialogue, capturing the feel of adolescence perfectly. Jokes about mums and dads, jokes about lack of sex, all subtly crafted into the dialogue, make you laugh, simply because you would be able to hear the same conversation in your local Topman at three o'clock on a Saturday afternoon. And that is why it is utterly charming. It never tries to be anything it's not, it never pretends to raise moral issues or tackle strong taboos, it simply shows that being a teenager can be fun after all. For no-frills, unadulterated high-spirited camaraderie between four mates, The Inbetweeners simply cannot be beaten.