MTV's comedy "The Inbetweeners" focuses on four boys navigating high school in a hormone-induced haze.
They're just above the bottom of the social caste system and consider themselves superior to the kids who can't even get a table at lunchtime. At least they have one another.
Premiering Monday, Aug. 20, the show is a takeoff on a British series of the same name, but show runner Brad Copeland ( "Arrested Development" "My Name Is Earl") says this series' voice is distinct from the original.
"It is definitely an Americanization and a different tone," Copeland tells Zap2it. "The crudeness that works with an English version didn't work with the American version."
There is, however, a definite level of crudeness; after all, this is a show about teenage boys. The characters are distinct. Will ( Joey Pollari) is bizarrely natty for a high-school sophomore, carrying a leather briefcase instead of a worn backpack. He's the new kid, a transfer, a situation Pollari relates to as he transferred to a public school, then wound up finishing school online.
"I did not emerge unscathed," Pollari says. "I had plenty to draw back on. Will is a pedantic know-it-all. In the long run these are the best friends he could possibly have. It is such a struggle for him with these guys. He is too eager; that is the problem."
The guys balance out one another, but the one who is closest to the majority of teenagers is Simon ( Bubba Lewis).
"He is very much the hopeless romantic," Lewis says. "He is very, very gullible also, in just that his friends can get him to do a lot of terrible things. Your heart really goes out to him. I think he is definitely the most normal of the group, if that makes any sense. He loves his friends, and I love the way that he believes in his friends, and his friends know they can twist him and turn him."
The group's master manipulator and resident nasty guy is Jay ( Zack Pearlman). He may be the most obnoxious character on television, and yes, that includes all the Real Housewives.
"Jay is despicable," Pearlman says. "Later you will see some parts of his being that are a little bit less despicable. He is still a human and still reacts the way most humans do when put in a leadership position. He's like a czar; he is a ruler of his own domain."
Pearlman was a fan of the original series.
"I was a fan before I even auditioned," he says. "We would wait until somebody uploaded it online, and we would stay up until 2 a.m. to watch it."
There are definitely moments of the MTV version worthy of that sort of fan devotion. Neil ( Mark L. Young) is a dim, sweet fellow. In one of the four episodes available for review, Neil loses his clothes. He is naked under his fuzzy costume as a theme park character, so he takes clothes from the lost and found and winds up in very short, tight girls' cutoffs and a belly shirt.
"The worst part is we were at Universal Studios Orlando," Young says. "A lot of people were looking at me and my shorts. It wasn't very comfortable."
But little about high school is, and a lot is funny, which are the points of the show.
"I would describe it as everything you remember in high school, where most people are the 'in-between,' " Copeland says. "They weren't quite popular and not complete outcasts, but the awkwardness of high school is what it is about."
Photo/Video credit: MTV