I wish The Inbetweeners would decide if it's a semi-realistic comedy or a live-action comic strip, because I spent most of this third episode either smiling in satisfaction at well-observed adolescent behaviour, or struggling to swallow its broader moments. Do we really believe Tara (Hannah Tointon) would want to dress up new boyfriend Simon (Joe Thomas) to look like a complete idiot? Absolutely not. And the show still can't escape giving us caricatured female characters; here a giant schoolgirl called Kerry (Abbey Mordue) was the butt of many jokes, accompanying Will (Simon Bird) on a double date with Simon and Tara, which Will only put up with because Kerry's renowned for giving her boyfriends blowjobs.
It was an amusing episode, by and large: from Jay (James Buckley) crashing Neil's (Blake Harrison) 18th birthday present of a motorbike, seconds after claiming he's a skilled stuntman; to Simon having to face Tara's prudish parents and shocking them by swearing and revealing an offensive bumper sticker on his car. I just find think the show could be a lot better if they went for Peep Show-style realism, because the funniest moments here were whenever Simon's friends kept trilling "mimimimimimimi!" if he mentioned his girlfriend. Immature, silly, funny and accurate in its depiction of the kind of things teenage boys do to tease/annoy each other, it reminded me of when The Inbetweeners was more like that. Exaggerations of real life, not unrealistic sketch-show moments like Simon fainting at the cinema while watching a horror movie.
But this isn't a new complaint. The Inbetweeners often crosses the boundary, for me. Just when you're relishing the accuracy and nostalgic kick some of the situations and behaviour can elicit, along comes something ridiculous that stretches your disbelief to breaking point, or the quality of acting suddenly drops to school play levels.
Overall, I didn't dislike this episode, but it let itself down. Will in particular came across as a horrible person in his handling of Kerry, and that entire storyline didn't lead anywhere very interesting or cathartic. I was fine with how Will avoided learning a clichéd lesson that it's Kerry's personality that really counts, not her phsyical size, but we didn't get anything better.
WRITERS: Damon Beesley & Iain Morris
DIRECTOR: Ben Palmer
GUEST CAST: Hannah Tointon, Greg Davies & Abbey Mordue
TRANSMISSION: 27 September 2010 - E4/HD, 10PM