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

The Inbetweeners (U.S.): “Sunshine Mountain”

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It’s only the second episode, but the American version of The Inbetweeners is already shaping into something that’s on par with the British version. At it’s worst, it’s a little broad, and predictable. But “Sunshine Mountain” delivers so many great lines and out-of-nowhere laughs that I had trouble writing them all down. Neil’s character, a well-meaning doofus played with certain rapture by Mark L. Young, really shone in this episode. In any other high school comedy, Neil would be the spaced-out stoner. The way they’re shaping him up here—as more unaware than dazed—is more interesting. “My school tried to hold me back every year, so my mom just kept changing the spelling of my name and re-enrolling me,” he explains to the gang. “How many different ways are there to spell Neil?” McKenzie asks, incredulously. “Oh, I wasn’t Neil until the 6th grade.” It’s sort of perfect, dumb in such a self-confident way that it’s almost cool.

The “in between” of titular fame is just that. The characters don’t fall easy into any of the categories formed the harsh sorting process of high school. But without an easy title, they don’t have a group identity other than teenage dudes who are trying, desperately, to fake their way through. “Sunshine Mountain” is about the pinnacle of American teenagedom: Getting your driver’s license. Simon finally passed his road test, and has a car coming his way as a reward. Naturally, this conjures up images of babes in the front seat, a cooler full of beer in the trunk. But instead of something zippy, Simon gets a “Sports edition car.” The high-pitched distress noise he makes when his dad pulls up in a tiny, shuddering, “Muppet yellow” is pure, hilarious anguish. “You won’t be able to get up enough speed to kill yourself,” his father reasons. “I’ll find a way. I’ll find a way to kill myself,”  Simon stutters.

The initial voyage in this sad, farting little vehicle that Jay christens the “Ford Celibacy” is to a theme park called Sunshine Mountain, chosen because Carly and her boyfriend are making a voyage there. Neil also works there as a mascot called Poncho the Parrot, terrorizing children with his gangly frame. Jay’s mission is, as always, to “troll for hole,” and the theme park isn’t ideal. But Simon is bizarrely, obsessively interested in a roller coaster called the Tri-scare-atops, and so they head for glory. Jay opens the door as they roll into the parking lot and promptly breaks the passenger side door off. Simon, feaking out, resolves to carry the missing door around the park to prevent further harm from coming to the horrible car, thus totaling his chances at upgrading.

Neil finds his clothes stolen, and so selects the most amazingly inappropriate replacement clothes imaginable—a girl’s tight cut-off shorts and a midriff-baring shirt. What’s more than just a one-joke moment about this outfit is how much Neil loves it. He struts around, balls precariously close to popping out, beside Simon and his albatross of a door. “Maybe you could use that to hide your erection,” Jay advises when Simon spots Carly. Carly and her boyfriend Bobby are walking rapturously hand-in-hand, and Simon’s attempt to cut in result in embarrassing Carly and then fleeing. When they finally get to the Tri-scare-atops coaster, after waiting for the front for an hour, McKenzie notices that a group of people cut in front of them. Filled with self-righteous vitriol, he sputters insults at these egregious, inconsiderate assholes that, of course, are a group of mentally disabled people. Result: Simon’s car gets “Bad Man” and “JERK Edition” graffiti-ed all over itand the whole gang has to ride back with Carly and Bobby as they are giggly in loves, singing along to the Foreigner song he saw he parents make out to earlier. It’s almost a circle of hell.

Stray observations:

  • Jay and McKenzie’s exchange on shotgun rules was amazing:“I’d like to see the shotgun rules. I’d like to see where those are posted,” McKenzie reasons. “The library of congress,” Jay replies.
  • Simon, upon seeing his new car: “What sport?! Ultimate Frisbee?”
  • Also, Jay changing Simon’s license to read born in 1895 was priceless.
  • "Is it a roller coaster into your Mom?"