Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Inbetweeners (U.S.): “Crystal Springs”

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It has to be said: The best part of the American version of The Inbetweeners is definitely Neil. Mark L. Young is a Judd Apatow star in the making. His line delivery—and all-around embrace of Neil’s doofus character—had me cracking up as much as anything in this solid episode. When he advises Simon how to respond to a flirty text message—“Just as many question marks as you can type”—I was almost in tears. Ditto his whole-hearted, enraptured response when “Jessie’s Girl” came on at the dance.

“Crystal Springs” was a field trip away from the miseries of school, into the fresh miseries of an RV Park. It also marks a real departure for Jay’s character. It’s not as if his empty boasts ever came off as credible, but this is the first time he’s actually had to prove himself. Predictably, he fails miserably. His sexual bravado embarrasses his friends who take his advice, Neil steals his jokes, and he ends up attempting to finger a girl’s stomach. So, yah, things couldn’t get a lot worse for his reputation as a lady’s man.

The Inbetweeners has been making the transition from a remake to its own show with its own spirit, a successful transformation to MTV. But the major weakness of “Crystal Springs” was its faithfulness to the original British episode. Jay’s father, for example, came off as a flatulent, nasty-smelling douchebag, unlike the class clown we met in an earlier episode. McKenzie’s bizarre nervousness doesn’t make quite as much sense as it did in the other show—though Joey Pollari does the slide across the floor in socks with admirable vigor. But really, the whole idea of them going to an RV park doesn’t translate. It’s not the same as a caravan vacation, and it’s sort of unfathomable to imagine a dance at an RV park as anything other than a television device.

Other than Jay’s horrifying miscalculation, the one who had the worst RV experience had to be Simon. A cute girl who Jay knew clearly has a crush on him. He also probably has a chance, at least to round a few bases. But Jay’s advice, which is that backdoor doesn’t count, leads Simon astray. When his date turns around to adjust her blouse, he drops trou and dons a condom before she turns around. It’s more than a little bit forward.

The only one of the four who got any action was Neil, who snuck away on the dance floor with the incredibly forward girl who licked hummus off McKenzie’s vest. The dudes only realize this when they’re driving home and all the seats are damp, soaked in the, um, fruits of Neil’s labor. As McKenzie says in the beginning, “At least things can only get better. Or stay the same. Or get worse.” Yeah, it’s the last one that seems the most likely.

Stray observations:

  • I loved McKenzie and Jay’s scientist exchange: “You think you’re so smart, Dr. Copernicus.” “Copernicus was not a doctor.” “OK! Dentist! Whatever!”
  • Jay’s insults of Becky’s cousin were so mean and so funny. “I’ve seen beanbags in better shape.” It’s particularly hilarious because of what terrible shape he’s in himself.
  • The dance: “Not only had the fun died, but someone was not beating its corpse with crappy music”