The Inbetweeners (MTV) Season 1 Review “Reading Gives You Wings”

The Inbetweeners (MTV) Episode 10 Reading Gives You Wings

Every week, I’m growing less and less impressed with MTV’s American reboot of The Inbetweeners. “Reading Gives You Wings” is no exception, and to be honest, the episode feels like it may have been written by robots, who had just watched the previous ones and come up with something that followed the exact same formula. Silly outsized premise, new hot girl for Will to make a fool of himself over, some reason for Simon to do something stupid for Carly, and several slow-motion sequences. And maybe it’s just a personal pet peeve, but those slow-mo bits really have to go, if this show wants my respect back. There were two this episode, and neither felt necessary. Maybe they just need them to pad out the running time?

But it’s not as if there wasn’t enough material there to put together a full, completely normal-speed episode. The Red Bull library plot and the Lauren shoplifting plot both could have been the main focus of their own, independent episodes, but instead they were made to fight against each other for dominance, with neither one really winning. Will, who is nominally our main character (he gets the voice over, at least), is really just too painful to watch. It’s not just that he’s an awkward teen boy, which is the point of the show, but that he’s clueless to an extreme that breaks any chance of sympathy for him. Early in the episode, when the girl (I genuinely can’t remember her name, which isn’t a good sign) rubs his head like a little brother, and he rubs it back, is the kind of small, perfect bits of awkwardness that the show should depend on. But later, when he acts on the conviction that knowledge of the Dewey decimal system will impress a girl who hates learning? It’s a step too far. Somehow, it manages to feel wrong, even in the exaggerated, hyper-elastic reality of The Inbetweeners.

And in Simon’s corner of the world, which fails to intersect with Will’s in any meaningful way, he abandons Lauren for Carly yet again. I know the fact that he’s holding a torch for her is supposed to be a key component of the engine of this show, but they either need to take it to a new place, or find a new angle from which to come at it, because I’m bored. I’m bored, and Lauren was a way more interesting character, and still Simon had to boot her out, because that wasn’t where the show is heading. Even if it maybe should have been.

Elsewhere, we get more of Neil’s dad and Jonno, which still doesn’t land, for me. I’ve been trying to think through what bothers me about it for a while now, and I think, in the end, it’s really just that the jokes aren’t that funny. The premise is weird, and flawed, and I have no idea why someone like Jonno would ever end up with someone like Neil’s dad, but if the jokes were funny, it might all be forgivable. It’s sad, too, because Mark L. Young as Neil is the funniest performance on the show, and I wish the stuff around him would rise to his abilities. The montage of him trying to figure out how to sit on that giant lemon wedge was the best part of the entire episode.

In the end, “Reading Gives You Wings” feels like just another half hour of The Inbetweeners spinning its wheels, passing the time without quite finding something worthwhile or interesting to present to the audience. I really hope the show can get better from here, because the promise of the first few episodes is really wearing thin.

What about y’all? Did anyone find this funnier than I did, or are we all on the same “meh” page here?