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MTV's "The Inbetweeners" Review, Or How Not to Completely Bung Up a British Adaptation

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | September 5, 2012 | Comments ()


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There are some adaptations of British shows that fall flat on their face ("Coupling") and then there are others where the writing and the characterization of the original is so good, translating it is almost foolproof: Change clunge to p*ssy, gash to vag, and naff, quim, tuppence to slit (yes, "The Inbetweeners" refers to female genitalia frequently), find actors with similar characteristics, and Boom! Bob's your uncle.

As much as I hate to say it -- because the original British version of "The Inbetweeners" is one of my all-time favorite comedies (think "Wonder Years" crossed with American Pie) -- the American version is pretty good. You can't really attribute its success to MTV: It has everything to do with Iain Morris and Damon Beasley, the two men who wrote and created the original series. The American version is little more than a facsimile of the original with a different soundtrack and actors who don't quite look they way you want them to, but it works. It's like watching a rerun with different actors, and when a show is as good as the original, a rerun still manages to hold a lot of its power: It's hilarious and awkward and angst-y with a touch of whiplash poignancy and the heightened essence of reality (or at least, a reality for me).

That is to say, during one's coming of age years, the biggest humiliations always seem to accompany sexual activity. My first time, my nose bled all over my girlfriend, and because it was dark, she didn't even realize it until she checked the mirror afterwards and found her face streaked in my blood. That's the kind of story that would feel right at home in "The Inbetweeners." Nothing ever goes right in the dating life of these four adolescents, but ultimately, they have each other to fall back on. During the most traumatic years of one's life, there's nothing more important than a solid peer group, even one as bumbling and hopeless as the foursome at the center of "The Inbetweeners."

Granted, Joey Pollaris -- who plays the lead, a straight-laced private-school transplant, Will McKenzie -- has none of the cheeky charm of Simon Bird's British counterpart, but the other three actors -- Zack Pearlman, Bubba Lewis, and Mark L. Young -- don't so much reinvent the public-school characters as they do the originals' justice. MTV has also managed to maintain the tone, and they've done a serviceable job of translating the British slang into American slang.

It's a good enough show, in fact, that though all the gags have been repurposed from the British series, I found myself laughing both in anticipation of what I knew was coming and doubly so at the gags themselves. MTV doesn't get it right very often, but with "Awkward," and now this, there's suddenly a reason not to delete MTV from my channel guide.




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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Amanda

    Come ON. As an avid fan of the British series, just watching the preview for this on tv made me want to HULKSMASH. The castings for Will and Simon is terrible - you can barely tell them apart! Ugh. Just ugh.

  • JeanB

    Why do they have to do it in the first place???
    If it was in different language then that would be ok but come on USA, enough of the versions already and its always with beautiful people (guy in the driving seat looks ripped).
    Do we Brits rip off The Big Bang Theory? Desperate Housewives? Dexter? No we dont, somethings should be left alone.

  • Jezzer

    Jesus, Dustin, have you ever had sex that wasn't terrifying?

  • andrew

    I thought it was pretty bad. They seemed to dumb down and over explain all the jokes so it felt like someone was explaining the episodes and why they were so great to me over the phone. But they didn't understand either.

  • Blake

    How can you replace Belinda Stewart-Wilson from the original?

    She'd make a great Doctor Who...

    http://www.pajiba.com/seriousl...

  • I hated the original so I'm gonna refrain from expressing suprise, disdain, or anything else.
    The movie rocked though.

  • NoPantsMcLane

    You are dead to me now, Dustin.

  • Steph

    'Change clunge to p*ssy, gash to vag'

    Nope, that won't do at all. We use those words too and they're not as funny. Also, no one used clunge before this show started, I thought the writers made it up.

  • Martin Ayling

    I had *absolutely* heard the word clunge before the Inbetweeners. I don't think they invented any language in the show, more just reintroduced it.

    Aside from Buswankers, obviously. They deserve full credit for that.

  • Candee

    I wish I had reasons to use Buswankers.

  • Tate

    Naff doesn't mean what you think it means! It just means awful in a tacky way.

  • Wōđanaz Óðinn

    Sort of like an irony.

  • ee

    Really? I couldn't stand it. I just randomly watched the first two seasons of the British show and loved it. Then this popped up on MTV, and none of the american actors worked for me. It felt half-hearted. Maybe I just need the accents to accept the behavior and talk, but I really disliked the main "nerdy" dude. He played too douchey for me. It didn't help that every single scene/plot point was just copied exactly, after I had just watched all these episodes 2 days before.

  • pajiba

    Definitely. If I'd just watched the British series, I'm sure I'd have felt the same, but I've had a couple of years distance between this series and watching the original.

  • Chumplunt

    Supposedly they are taking bits from the original for the first 6 episodes, then branching out with it's own storylines from there. Pretty much exactly what The Office did originally. So it's painful to begin with, but hopefully they'll come up with some original hilarity soon enough.

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