Let’s face it, The Inbetweeners is puerile, cringe worthy, painful and very, very funny. It’s the type of comedy that the UK excels at: embarrassingly brutal in its over-the-top antics, it takes a swipe at our own sensibilities and shows a British ability to laugh at practically anything. It’s a reminder that teenage boys are childish, oversexed and full of adolescent angst, as well as stories of their conquests and silliness.
So having swept fans away with the antics of Will, Simon, Neil and Jay, series creators Damon Beesley and Iain Morris give us a last hurrah in the form of the Rudge Park Yearbook, a publication that was, William McKenzie states in his rather self-congratulatory introduction, hastily put together, not in the right order and may include things that shouldn’t have been included.
One of McKenzie’s last acts at Rudge Park, it seems, was to create the first Rudge Park Yearbook with pretentious, pseudo-intellectual plans to leave a lasting memorial of his influence on his school. He may make a fool of himself, but he continues to be endearingly naïve as we read his UCAS form, speeches, profile and many other highbrow contributions. With his best friend, Simon, and two other friends, Neil and Jay, also offering their own articles of dubious quality, ranging from extracts from Simon’s diary to Jay’s guide to the fairer sex, we get to revisit memories of classic moments from the series.
This isn’t to say, by any stretch, that the book is a rehash of ideas from the TV series. Instead, it’s a set of original materials that, for fans of the series, will mean something or spark a memory of what went on in the three seasons. Other characters get a look-in, with everyone from Will’s mother (in a letter to his former school) to Alistair Scott offering super thanks to those who attended his fashion show. Talking of the fashion show, Carli’s behind the scenes write up is followed by Simon’s diary on the worst day of his life.
The book is as cringe worthy as the series in places, especially Mr Kennedy’s various clubs (Massage Club, Art Club and Greco-Roman Wrestling Club), and his submissions to the photo page. There are also such treats as Neil’s film reviews – Sex And The City 2 should be called “Some grannies who never shut up who occasionally have boring sex in the city” and The Last Airbender is the funniest film he’s ever seen – and his coursework on reproduction, entitled, “Do you put the balls in.” The other characters don’t miss out either, with Simon’s appalling poetry and love of Carli coming over quite regularly, Jay’s business and A to Z of Sex offering an insight into the greatest teller of tall tales.
The Yearbook is the kind of volume you probably won’t read cover-to-cover in a traditional style. It’s more a coffee table book, or the kind of book that you’ll pick up and flick to a random page, read, laugh, maybe flick to another page, and repeat the whole process. Some of the humour is stretched somewhat, but it doesn’t stop being funny.
The only place it really falls short is its lack of photos. As daft as it sounds, it would have been nice to see more images of the various characters alongside Neil’s rather random drawings, which are just as bizarre as you would expect.
If you’re a fan of this series, you’re going to love the book. You’ll hear each character’s distinctive voice in these pages, whether it be Will or Donovan’s contributions, or sex advice from Jay and Simon. Although presented as a yearbook, it is, as Mr Gilbert acknowledges, really a mess of articles scooped up from a tearfully overworked McKenzie’s desk and dumped at the printers.
It’s a set of rather embarrassing and occasionally incoherent articles, laced with the humour you’d expect from the TV show. For fans of the series, it’s easily worth four stars, though inevitably, you may not rate it so highly if you’ve no idea what The Inbetweeners is.