MTV is yet again attempting to remake a popular British teen series for American audiences. Their version of E4’s The Inbetweeners is set to premiere on August 20 and the first trailer for this adaptation has officially arrived.
You should all know that I’m very, very fond of the original Inbetweeners, so the thought of anyone messing with it sort of makes me upset. (If you’ve never seen it, the original is legitimately hilarious, even if you occasionally do need a strong stomach or high tolerance for profanity to get through an episode.) To put it bluntly, the initial trailer does not give me a lot of high hopes for the quality of this remake, and I fear we are about to add yet another series to the list of attempted “Americanized” British shows that didn’t work at all.
Cilck through to take a look at the new MTV trailer for yourself as well as watch a clip from the original series, and then let’s have a chat about this whole “remake” thing.
To be quite honest – in my opinion a show like this doesn’t really fit general American humor/sensibilities and I’m really not quite sure why it got a greenlight to series in the first place, other than the fact that the UK Inbetweeners has been quite successful for E4, ratings-wise, as well as in cinemas (they made a one-shot film spinoff in the UK). Further – much like the debacle that was the American version of Skins – thanks for that hot mess, too, MTV – very little about this trailer looks “remade” or reworked; these are generally the same scenes/gags that happened in the UK version except slightly less crass and generally less. (Seriously, a character actually says “Piss off.” When was the last time you heard anyone in America say that?) Perhaps I would feel a bit less hostile toward it if the show was only borrowing the concept of Inbetweeners and using it to build a similarly themed show, with new characters and stories and all that jazz. Perhaps there are more original stories coming that I am unaware of, but at the moment it certainly doesn’t look that way at all.
Take a look for yourself at the MTV trailer below. I’ve also included a trailer from the UK Inbetweeners, simply to try and provide an example of the original. (It’s the least um, adult-themed trailer I could find – this show has so many NSFW clips - but you don’t really need to know anything about the story going on here, just check it out for the tone.)
Warning: Both of these feature what would properly be called adult themes and a bit of strong language. If that’s not your thing, don’t push play.
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An E4 Trailer: (Sadly, I couldn't find a Series 1 trailer to directly compare!)
I think my biggest complaint is that, somehow, this trailer seems to lack the careful balance between adult themes, awkwardness and, oddly enough, teenage innocence that makes the original Inbetweeners compelling in spite of its overall crassness. Yes, the boys are jerks most of the time; yes, some of the situations are painfully embarrassing to watch; yes, the crude humor can get a bit overwhelming. But there’s still somehow a real sweetness to the characters and their friendship present, despite the four of them often being typical disgusting or selfish teens. So far, there’s nothing that does that for me in this footage.
I think this has lots to do with the fact that Simon Bird, who plays the UK version of Will, is an incredible actor and exceptionally gifted at both dry wit and physical comedy. Bird manages to convey a strange sort of sincerity about everything Will does – as though he desperately wants to believe in the goodness of people and society in general, even as he’s treated poorly, denied his dream of popularity and occasionally vomited on. Admittedly, I don’t know Bubba Lewis (American Simon) from a stranger on the street, but based on the bits we see of his performance here, I am less than impressed – his Will reads much more “creeper jerk,” to me.
Are any of you Inbetweeners fans? How do you find the feel of this remake so far?