The Inbetweeners (MTV) “Class Clown” Review

The Inbetweeners (MTV) Class Clown

This week on The Inbetweeners “Class Clown”, we get a good look at what this show could be when it finds some solid ground: not ground-breaking or laugh-out-loud hysterical, but a dependable teen comedy, one that’s enjoyable and easy to digest.

The setup is sitcom 101. The A plot, which sucks up a majority of our time, is another misstep in Simon’s hopeless journey towards wooing Carly. This time around, her house is being fumigated, and her family is staying the night at Simon’s. It’s a sleepover, just like when they were kids, complete with vaguely supernatural games; astral projecting standing in for a Ouija board. Unfortunately, this was the section of the episode that fell most flat for me. Simon’s “flustered and lovesick” act is wearing thin on me, and neither he nor Carly is defined enough beyond their relationship to one another to give me anything to grip onto in their scenes together.

Fortunately, the B and C plots bounced along well enough to the keep the episode afloat. Will’s struggle with bully Donovan, which escalates to The Help-esque “terrible awful” levels by the end of things, is carried by Joey Pollari’s performance and the wardrobe department’s consistently hilarious pairing of sweater vests with short sleeve button-ups.

Jay’s mission to be elected class clown is the one bit of this episode that doesn’t seem to quite fit with the others, but that only made it all the more funny, with his comically outsized family drama and the scribbling of equations on windows (one of the best bits this week, if you ask me) standing out among Will’s briefcase woes and Simon’s teen-boy romantic stumbles. Jay can’t be the center of the show, because a you can’t build a stable comedy with the wackiest character at the center, but at times like when he’s staring at flu shots sign, trying to figure out how to best rearrange the letters and flipping his hands around (was anyone else picking up some Gary from Alphas vibes from that?), I really wish we could just follow him around each week. His eagle scream sound effects can come too.

The best parts of the episode, predictably, come when all four boys are together. Although black-light jokes themselves have grown a little long in the tooth, Jay’s reasoning for bringing one in the first place (“Tron makes girls super horny.”) got a pretty hearty laugh out of me, as did Will’s passive-aggressive needling about how the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles acted how friends really should act.

Six episodes in, The Inbetweeners is starting to carve out a comfortable place for it in MTV’s lineup of original programming. Though not as consistently fantastic as the other scripted high school half-hour on the network, Awkward., it’s reliable for a few laughs each week, and it’s certainly more successful than the creative miscarriage that was their attempted Americanization of Skins. I just hope that, going forward, the show isn’t afraid to expand its world a little, and take a few risks.

When he’s not glued to his TV, laptop, or phone, Rob can probably be found trying to shove words together into comprehensible (and, maybe one day, meaningful and important) sentences and paragraphs. He’s a student and writer who would love to talk to you about Lord Varys the Spider, or Bridalplasty, or possibly both at the same time.)