Inbetweeners: The Most Realistic Example of Male Friendship
One thing is for certain – the 2008-2010 British comedy show Inbetweeners was anything but subtle. From constant sexcapades to crude language, it is probably the most accurate representation of teenage boys I have ever witnessed. Weirdly enough, it also has one of the most genuine male friendship portrayals I’ve ever seen and I will elaborate on the why below.
When we start the series, Will is the new kid at their school and it’s quickly established how much of a fish out of the water he is. Will immediately attaches himself to Simon who despite avoiding him at first, doesn't take long to come around. Simon is also friends with Jay and Neal, a dynamic cleverly established as a childhood friendship. The pair aren’t massive fans of Will (to their credit, they’re open about it) but as soon as Simon declares he’s fine with the newbie, they accept it, and the trio becomes a four.
One would think to themselves – is it really that simple as attaching yourself to a group of people and boom, they’re your friends? Well, not always, but there are times when that is indeed the case, especially with teenage boys. It might be a stereotype, but a lot of the time men just don’t seem to think too much into the politics of friendship and it’s enough for them to have something small in common with a person to want to be around them. Proximity is also considered a factor, which is common for humans in general and especially in school where you see your friends five times a week.
However, from the second episode we see that the quartet are just spending time together as if that’s how it’s always been. Of course, Jay and Neal have no problem calling Will out on his ‘posh’ ways, but Will in turn has no problem joining some inside jokes and there is no objection from anyone regarding this.
Despite this, it’s obvious that he considers Simon his best friend out of the three and while the pair never have a defining moment to verbally establish it, you can tell in their interactions that Simon feels the same way. Just as Jay and Neal are the closer duo as illustrated with a scene where Simon and Neal are by themselves and have nothing to say. As with most real-world dynamics, in any group there is one person who sort of glues them together and for these guys, Simon is arguably that person.
In true British sitcom fashion, there aren’t really any grand moments where the quartet declare they’re each other’s best friends. Though when one thinks about it – does anyone in real life do this? Bombastic declarations of friendship or love always read as eccentric at best and potentially manipulative at the worst. Instead, the group have moments when they comfort one another in understated but effective ways.
Some notable examples include when Jay gets dumped by his girlfriend in the final episode of season two or when Charlotte humiliates Will in season one after their brief encounter, and that is after Will was horrible to them. The one negative incident I can think of was Neil getting with Charlotte after this, however as bad as that sounds, I don’t think he comprehended that it was a betrayal. I’m sure it’s probably a point of discussion to a lot of people: just how much of a backstabbing it actually was? Will and Charlotte were never a thing, and it was clear their kissing at a party didn’t mean much to her and any leftover feelings were purely on Will’s end and a lot of it had to do with idolising how gorgeous Charlotte was. Of course, I still think it was shitty to do as he still had feelings for her but technically, as they didn’t date, does it cross the line? That’s a topic for another time.
Furthermore, they aren’t afraid to call each other out on their crap. Simon’s slight obsession with Carly is a running gag but both Jay and Will constantly tell him that she’s not into him and is likely using him for attention. Granted, they did arguably ruin his chances with Tara but again, it is such a teenage boy thing to ask for an opinion from his friends, even if it’s completely misguided.
It’s also pretty standard for young men to not like their friend’s girlfriend. For one, it’s a reminder they don’t have one and therefore are behind/missing out on all the ‘mandatory’ experiences. There’s also a factor of them losing their friend as of course a new relationship will take precedent. While some would debate it shouldn’t be like this, it is a pretty expected and normalised part of life.
In the movies (one of which was completely unnecessary, but I won’t point fingers), the guys embark on holidays together. While there are some arguments along the way and girl hunting sessions, the group also have some genuine conversations about life and love, which is as realistic as one could get.
All in all, these characters aren’t perfect and hell, half the time they’re not even likeable. However, they are as realistic as TV can make people be and so is their friendship. Besides, who hasn’t been a teenage boy?