The Inbetweeners (MTV) Season 1 Review “Fire!”

The Inbetweeners (MTV) Season 1 Review Fire!

I really have no idea what to do with this week’s episode of The Inbetweeners, “Fire!” It’s a tonal mess, and, more importantly, it just didn’t make me laugh.

It all started with extended opening scene in the car, in which the gay jokes verged fairly quickly from realistic teen boy chatter to uncomfortable. And the episode continued along that line with the introduction of Jonno, and the numerous gags about Neil’s dad, all of which could be funny, potentially, but is approached so weirdly that it feels like the show itself is homophobic, not just the characters, which kinda sours me on everything else going on around it.

Not to say that the other things in the episode would have been good on their own, however. Will’s sudden turn as a detective completely flopped. I know they were going for some kind of exaggerated melodrama with the music and close-up shots of faces every time he brought up the trash can fire, but it never worked for me, the same way the slow-motion sequences (Bree running to the car was an especially weird choice) or music montages never work for me. This show has often felt like it’s edited by a team of six people who aren’t allowed to talk to each other, and never more so than now.

The plot ends on a note of sincerity, too, which does not match up even a little. Will’s voice over says, “And I found something more important than the arson suspect… loyalty to my friends.” And we’re just supposed to take that at face value? When everything leading up to it has been over-the-top parody? It’s weird. And distinctly not successful.

The other part of the episode, in which Simon ends up taking his new girlfriend to a middle school party he doesn’t realize is at his own house, could have been better. It’s a solid framework, and Lauren is maybe the most interesting and likable character on the show so far, but in the end it’s got so many bizarro elements floating around that it never gels into anything I could comfortably call “worth watching.”

I sincerely hope “Fire!” is just a momentary misstep for The Inbetweeners. There are still bright spots, especially the performance of Neil, and I want the show to be better than this. How do you guys feel? Is this going to end up as an anomalous dip on the graph of the show’s quality, or is it an indicator of a terrible new direction?