The Inbetweeners (MTV) Season 1 Review “Spa Time”

The Inbetweeners Episode 11 Spa Time

The main problem with The Inbetweeners at this point is that it isn’t quite sure if it’s spoofing and examining the tropes of teen masculinity, or simply engaging in them. The two hinges on which “Spa Time” swings, a bikini car wash and a search for a hooker at a massage parlor, might as well be the plot of a direct-to-video Porky’s ripoff from 1984. That isn’t in and of itself a problem; a successful show could take that and turn it into something interesting, a fresh look at teen boy antics that exposes some new, interesting or funny facet of them. The problem is when the show just keeps showing us the same old facets.

We’ll start with what ended up being the best part of the episode, the first non-Neil moment to earn that title in a long while. The reveal at the end of the episode of Carly’s surprise party, which Simon has now ruined in his attempt to be kind to her, was surprisingly heartbreaking. None of the emotional moments from this show have really worked for me before, especially not in regards to Carly, who has consistently been underused, and almost felt like a weird vestigial organ left over from the original UK series. But maybe it was the music, or the editing, or just the way she told Simon he was “so simple” that did it; I can’t be sure, but I know I wasn’t expecting it, and I appreciated the surprise.

Will’s constantly-growing line of women who refuse to have sex with him was the plot that felt like it had potential, but didn’t quite go for it enough. There’s something hilariously unrealistic about a girl just straight-up making the statement that, should he lose his virginity, she’d totally just have sex with him. Two girls saying it? Even better. Should it have been three? Probably. I’m going to say yes, it would have been funnier if it just kept going, turtles all the way down. Instead, we got a hammy one-person drama about getting too clingy that just made me cringe.

Speaking of cringe, the less said about Jay’s plot here, the better. The fact that the “spa hoochie” (Sidebar: the old man’s delivery of that phrase was absolutely perfect. This show should just be a half hour of old people saying “hoochie.”) ended up being a man was entirely expected and boring. They tried to play it off like it was more about his nasty facial hair than just being a gay panic joke, but at its heart, its just a gay panic joke.

So The Inbetweeners ends its first season next episode, and it’s doing it at a school dance, because, as a show about teenagers, it’s legally required to do so, or something. Here’s hoping the show can crawl out of the “okay, but not great” middle ground it’s been sitting in for a while now; if anything, “Spa Time” was the first step up. Unless you disagree, and think there wasn’t even a hole to climb out of in the first place. Please, let me know in the comments below.