Somewhere Inbetween

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Like a fair whack of the UK, I’m rather excited about sitting down at 10pm tonight to watch the brand new series of The Inbetweeners. There’s something about it that’s just so painfully accurate, vulgar, hilarious and heartwarming; it hits all the right coming-of-age notes and just makes them sound much, much ruder. If you’ve attended a British secondary school over the past twenty (or possibly even fifty) years, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

The thing about the characters is that they’re not so much Inbetweeners, rather full-on misfits. They’re universally ignored or mocked by girls, bullied by everyone from the school thug to the headteacher to their own parents, and suffer a series of calamities and social faux pas that earn them some of the best schoolyard nicknames I’ve ever heard. You’ve got to hand it to the writers – whoever came up with briefcase wanker deserves a big sweaty adolescent hug.

The characters completely epitomise stereotypes, yet nothing about the actors’ delivery of them is typical. There’s Will (bordering on the boy version of me as a teenager), the geeky but intelligent misfit who wants nothing more than to escape the state education he’s been forced into. There’s Simon (exactly the kind of boy I remember fancying at school), the sensitive, clueless type with traces of Harry Enfield’s Kevin the Teenager via his disgust at his parents’ lovelife. Then there’s Neil (more like the kind of boy I actually dated): slightly spaced out, dim but eternally smiling. And finally, Jay (the boy who I was too scared to talk to), the perpetual bullshitter who’s actually just massively insecure. The one thing that unites them? Their improbable friendship (oh, and the fact they’re all randy as hell).

When I was at school, I was most definitely an Inbetweener. There were four of us: we were geeky, insecure, clueless, and we talked about boys all day, every day. I remember being about fifteen and thinking that life would be so much easier as an adult, and wanting us all to mature at exactly the same pace, and as quickly as possible. Today I re-read an email thread between myself and one of my Inbetweener school friends (who I am still extremely close to) from last week. We might have proper grown-up jobs with email work signatures, but the content had barely altered from a decade ago. It was all about boys. I guess some things never change…

So the kettle’s boiled, I’ve got my big cuppa, I’m wearing my glasses (eyesight’s not like it was when I was a teenager), and I’m poised – remote in hand – in front of the TV. Bring. It. On.

How exactly am I going to top this night of TV gold? I’m going to go to bed. It is a school night, after all.

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