DVD Review: The Inbetweeners (The Complete Series)

There’s a reason why American television stations haven’t quite figured out how to make a good, raunchy teen-centric series. American studios seem to be focused on angst and the perils of teenagers, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer perhaps the best of the lot, but it’s usually been left to the movies for more blue-related humor. Most of it has to do with many American studios being unable to work within the guidelines of network television; even cable has prohibitions against sex and raunchy shenanigans when it comes to youth. Leave it to the British to corner the market and The Inbetweeners is everything a good sex comedy series involving teens should be in a delightfully British way.

The series focuses on four teenagers at a public high school. Will (Simon Bird) has just transferred from a private high school and is now stuck in a public one, ala Charlie Bartlett, but isn’t quite the big man on campus the American film character is. He’s nebbish and obsessed with sex and women, much like his new trio of friends whose antics form the basis of the series. Simon (Joe Thomas) is a bit of a romantic but manages to screw plenty of things up. Jay (James Buckley) is obsessed with sex and often over exaggerates his exploits to absurd degrees. Neil (Blake Harrison) is a bit dense but always cheerful; his father’s sexual preferences are always pointed out in comic fashion much to his chagrin.

Lasting only three seasons, and culminating in a film that serves as an ending to the series properly, the series follows the last three years of high school as a slow building coming of age story for the four. And once you get past the British slang it becomes a remarkably well written show about the perils of growing up and the power of friendship.

That’s the thing that’ll prevent a lot of people from being able to get into the show; it requires you to be well versed in British slang. It’s easy to figure out what they’re saying after a while if you’re not familiar, of course, but it can be a bit awkward at first.

The key is that the television series has well told stories. It touches on a lot of themes of those teenage years, not quite an adult but not quite a child anymore either. Those in-between years, of which the title is taken from, are captured fairly strongly and the show has a sort of whimsical take on the experience. It’s full of fairly raunchy blur humor, of course, but at its heart there’s well developed characters finishing up their youth.

It doesn’t hurt that this is a cast with great chemistry, of course, as the four actors work well together. By the time the series ends we’ve seen four kids finish growing up in front of us for the most part. It’s fairly interesting and a nice lead-in to the film of the same name, which is truly the show’s finale as opposed to the show’s last episode.

The cast and writing staff contribute commentary tracks and the cast contributes video diaries as well. There are the usual outtakes and deleted scenes from various episodes, which don’t add much back into the show. A handful of making of and behind the scenes features are included as well.

Getting into The Inbetweeners is a bit difficult early on if you’re not familiar with British slang. Once you figure it out, though, you’re in for a great show that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

eOne presents The Inbetweeners (Season 1).Starring Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, James Buckley, Blake Harrison. Running time: 432 minutes. Not Rated. Released: July 17, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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