We’ve come to the end of the first season of our scrappy U.S. remake of The Inbetweeners, and it’s easier to assess what a scattered, weird, sloppy, sweet, and often hilarious show it is. “The Dance” is a nice bookend to the ups and downs of the season. It had another inevitable stab at romance for the members of the gang, but it also packed some unexpected laughs and some nice moments of high school camaraderie. Plus, Mr. Gilbert drunkenly dispenses good advice. Why can’t that happen on every episode?
It’s the homecoming dance, which, as any high schooler raised on romantic comedies knows, is your one shot to get the girl you’ve been crushing on/crushed by. McKenzie of course constructs an elaborate campaign to be selected as the dance chairman. About mid-way through his presentation to Mr. Gilbert, which involves both a fog machine and a shadow box, Mr. Gilbert rolls his eyes and tells Will that there’s no competition.
So, newly entrusted with a tiny, meaningless amount of authority, Will gets to work. He offers tickets to Samantha, who assumes that they’re freebies and not a date. He goes with the gang to find a tuxedo. Will gets a conservative one, Jay gets one with tails and shorts—or, as it turns out, toddler pants—and Simon tries one that looks like Neil’s grandmother’s bingo shirt. But the winner of this game, as if there was any doubt, is Neil. He arrives at the dance in a powder blue, rhinestone encrusted, bell bottomed tux. At any school I went to, Neil would be the one with the ladies swooning for his ironic retro look—but what do I know.
Each of the dudes, barring Neil, has a lady they hope to impress. With Will, it’s Samantha, who he hopes will be super turned on by his organizational skills. With Jay, it’s middle-schooler Bree, who he forced Will to allow a special dispensation to attend. And with Simon, as ever, it’s the newly heartbroken Carli.
Some of the best parts of “The Dance” are quick moments of physical comedy. When Bree shows up with Simon’s little brother, Jay sulks off into the corner and starts pummeling a balloon column. And When Mr. Gilbert tells Jay not to worry about high school, he immediately falls on the floor. It’s those moments that makeThe Inbetweeners sparkle. “The Dance” also has one of Will’s best ever line deliveries. As he attempts to get Simon onstage to sing his love song to Carli, one of the members of the band (Freelance Whales—thanks MTV!) is reluctant about giving up his guitar. “I’m the Dance Chairman!” Will screams, asserting his position with every ounce of his body.
Simon’s song goes over well, but it inspires Bobby and Carli to get back together, rather than Carli to come running into Simon’s arms. So at the end of the night, all four of the gang are lady-free, in the company of bros, getting drunk on a trampoline. And that is how high school should be, after all. This first round of the U.S. Inbetweeners had rotten spots and brilliant pieces, but no matter what, I’ll be watching for the next season.