The Inbetweeners is, without doubt, one of the best sitcoms of the past few years. Its BAFTA and British Comedy Award are well-deserved accolades. It’s fresh, funny, and it doesn’t just tackle taboo subjects, it smashes them to bits whilst never failing to generate laughs. Well, apart from the final scene of series three.
As with the hit sitcoms of the 1970s, such as On The Buses, Dad’s Army, and Are You Being Served?, the success of The Inbetweeners is being rewarded with a feature length film, out in UK cinemas tomorrow. So as the film arrives, let’s take a look back at the five best episodes of the TV sitcom that inspired it…
Thorpe Park (series 1, episode 3)
Although the scenes of Simon’s attempting to pass his driving his test are rather disappointing, the rest of the episode definitely makes up for it by offering up a great selection of hilarious and cringe-worthy moments, such as Simon getting stuck behind a funeral procession, Will unwittingly insulting a group of people who suffer from Down’s Syndrome, and the final fate of Simon’s car. The jibes about Simon’s car are excellently written, and will be familiar to anybody who’s owned or had a friend with an embarrassingly bad vehicle.
The Field Trip (series 2, episode 1)
An old sitcom staple is transplanting your characters to another location and letting them cause havoc there, and The Inbetweeners does this admirably. On a school trip to Swanage, Will and Simon vie for the affections of new girl Lauren Harris, Jay searches for a local woman who supposedly (and by supposedly, I mean she doesn’t) sleeps with one student from the school every year, and Neil obliviously succumbs to the attentions of geography teacher, Mr Kennedy.
This episode’s highlight is inarguably the scene where, after catching a fish, Neil punches it to death, since it won’t survive if he releases it. The real success of this episode is rooted in how wonderfully ludicrous it is.
The Fashion Show (series 3, episode 1)
A nice twist on the ‘school play’ kind of episode is the school holding a fashion show to raise money for charity, which Will opposes on moral grounds. This episode has what is probably the crowning moment of comedy embarrassment, as Simon takes to the catwalk in a top hat and Speedos without realising that one of his testicles is hanging out.
This episode also sees the return of Mr Kennedy, whose fruitless attempts to seduce Neil are always comedy gold. Another nice aspect of this episode is the bittersweet end to Will’s pursuit of Charlotte Hinchcliffe, the unattainable love of his life. One-off character Alistair also provides Will with a great comic foil, and reminds us that, just because someone’s in a wheelchair, it doesn’t mean they’re not a complete git.
Bunk Off (series 1, episode 2)
It was with this episode that The Inbetweeners really started to get into its stride. It’s nothing short of amazing that the writers managed to cram so many excellent moments into a twenty-five minute episode. In that short space of time, we see Will accidentally hitting a wheelchair-bound-girl with a Frisbee, Simon proving his love to Carli by spray-painting a message to that effect on her driveway, and later throwing up on her eight-year-old-brother immediately after Will cheerily tells him that, if London were hit by a dirty bomb, his parents wouldn’t just be dead, but completely obliterated.
Events reach a delightfully embarrassing crescendo when the main characters try to excuse their alcohol-fuelled behaviour by accusing Neil’s dad of molesting them. This was also the episode that spawned a brand new homophobic slur: “bumder”.
Trip To Warwick (series 3, episode 4)
This episode’s a bit of a slow burner until the last few minutes, where it explodes in an unrelenting stream of comic embarrassment. Simon’s girlfriend Tara broaches the subject of them having sex, which Simon agrees to with gusto. After vetoing Simon’s suggestions of having sex in his car or at the bottom of his garden, Tara decides on a trip to Warwick University where her sister is studying. Will, Jay and Neil invite themselves along to provide moral support, and (in Jay’s case) an abundance of completely useless sex advice.
It’s when Simon takes Jay’s advice to, um, “relax himself” beforehand that the fun really begins. Meanwhile, we’re treated to the rather odd sight of Will eating a bonsai tree in an attempt to prove that he’s not boring. As previously mentioned, it’s only towards the end of the episode that the classic brand of cringe-worthy humour really kicks in.
The final sequence sees Neil wetting the bed (and Will), Jay drunkenly asking Tara’s sister and her flatmate for a threesome, and Simon growing increasingly frustrated with his non-functional genitalia to the point of punching himself in the groin and swearing at his own penis. It’s heavy on nudity and scatological humour, but it’s an amazingly crafted sequence that produces enormous laughs, and has a lot of rewatch value.