Watching: A Hilarious High School Comedy

Here's to making bad decisions.

Dear Watchers,

Wednesdays just keep happening.

Once upon a time, New York City public schools were set to resume last week. Maybe that had you thinking of your own school days — or of the wittier and more attractive televisual equivalents. One of the greats, “Freaks and Geeks,” still isn’t available for streaming. (The problem: music rights.) Still, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” has her stake at the ready on Hulu. “Veronica Mars” and “Friday Night Lights” are there, too. You can find “American Vandal” on Netflix and my sweet, sweet “Riverdale.”

And since there are only so many times you can enjoy that single season of “My So-Called Life” (on Amazon Prime Video, via IMDb TV), here’s one more suggestion.

Because you only have to go through puberty once

On “The Inbetweeners,” the humiliation is real, but so is the humor. From left, Simon Bird, James Buckley, Joe Thomas and Blake Harrison.Bwark Productions

“The Inbetweeners”

When to watch: Now, on Netflix.

Sometimes, when insomnia hits, I treat myself to an internal highlights reel of the myriad ways I embarrassed myself in high school. But nothing I did — not even in the parking lot of the junior prom after-party — holds a Zippo lighter’s flame to the ways that four boys disgrace themselves in every episode of “The Inbetweeners,” an extremely rude English sitcom that ran from 2008 to 2010. (Not to be confused with the later American version.)

When Will (Simon Bird), a brain and a priss, transfers to a new school in some suburban hellscape, he befriends Neil (Blake Harrison), thick as a brick; Jay (James Buckley), a compulsive liar with the emotional intelligence of a mud flap; and Simon (Joe Thomas), nearly normal, but entirely hopeless. Through three seasons, they try, with increasing desperation, to win the respect of their peers and get anywhere with girls.


A cringe comedy with a marshmallow core, the show, created by Iain Morris and Damon Beesley, loves its characters even as it subjects them to ritual humiliation. You may come to love them, too. (Maybe not Jay.) The language is absolute filth, though highly educational if you need a grounding in English obscenities, and the preoccupation with the erections of underage boys is troubling. Also, wasn’t 2008 late to be using “gay” as an insult? Still, the show remains reliably funny and borderline astute in its shallow plumbing of the suburban teen psyche.

In 2011, an inessential movie continuation appeared. Another, which I skipped, followed in 2014. If the three short seasons leave you aching for more young adult embarrassment, try “Fresh Meat”(on Amazon Prime Video), which follows six housemates through their years at a Manchester university. It shares a castmate in Thomas and a similar sweet-tart tone, though this time the girls get to humiliate themselves, too.



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