If cult fave flick Superbad had a baby with current small screen darling Awkward, and then their little one had a kiddo of its own with pseudo ’60s smash The Wonder Years, you’d get MTV’s newest sitcom The Inbetweeners.
Based on the British series by the same name, this raunchy but heartwarming comedy follows three geek-adjacent teenage pals who are forced to befriend an uptight, briefcase-carrying transfer student (played by relative newcomer Joey Pollari). The boys, however, quickly find themselves forming a bond (and ogling their new bud’s mom), and that is where the story begins.
Here, Pollari previews for TVLine MTV’s latest comedy offering — which faces the hurdle of winning over skeptical fans of the original — and explains the reasons he believes his “relatable and absolutely dirty and filthy and hilarious” new show is worth a watch.
TVLINE | How does your Inbetweeners compare to the U.K. series? And how, if at all, did it impact your performance?
I found out about the audition and then decided to watch the original series to see what it was all about — and I became hooked! So, knowing that territory and being skeptical and prone to people’s worries, we all sat down and said, ‘This is what we’re going to do with it to make it its own by season’s end.’ And by season’s end I really think it’s a completely different show. Comparing the sensibilities of British and American television is such a crapshoot, really. I think Simon Bird‘s performance [in the original] as [my character] Will Mackenzie is unbelievable, and I really looked at it and said, ‘That’s absolutely amazing — how can I make it different?’ The writers also have helped out in that way.
TVLINE | How much material did you borrow from the original?
In total over our 12-episode season, we only take six concepts from the original. And if given the chance to do a second season — which we’re all crossing our fingers for — our showrunner has said he wants to do a completely original season, no concepts borrowed, since there are only 18 episodes that were made in the U.K.
TVLINE | I have to say that while watching the first episode, all I kept thinking is that this is Superbad Lite.
There have been comparisons, absolutely, like a Superbad-meets-Wonder Years — at least that’s what we’ve heard, though I don’t know if that’s exactly what we’re going for. It is great to be compared to something like that, as it is such a brilliantly funny movie.
TVLINE | Talk a little about your leading-man character, Will. He’s uptight when we meet him, but it seems he’ll be impacted a bit by his new crew.
Absolutely! [Laughs] When he first comes in there’s such a stiffness to him, and over the first 12 episodes you’ll see him loosen up. You’ll see him lose the suit jacket and certain things that regarded him as a “super nerd” in that sense. But Will is just over-prepared; he’s been too prepared by private school and in coming to public school he thinks he’s got it all down… But he doesn’t. [Laughs] He’s just Type A and dealing with the guys is going to help him in the long run.
TVLINE | Do you have a favorite on-screen dynamic?
I don’t think I have a favorite dynamic, so to speak, but I liked when we started to get into scenes with myself and another girl — because that’s not something we did in the first two episodes. That for me was new territory and very exciting. But also just dealing with all of the guys, when it’s the four of us and it’s ping-pong with dialogue — that’s really fun. Trying to find the rhythm of dialogue is a task and a real reward.
TVLINE | The way the four of you play your scenes almost makes it seem like you’re improvising. Are you?
That’s all our writers, who we love so much and are brilliant. They allow us to improv a little bit, but all the stuff you see is written on the page. I think that feeling just comes from our chemistry, which was pretty instantaneous from Day 1.
TVLINE | Any favorite episodes this season?
There’s an episode called “Fire” that I am just so excited for fans to see. It’s maybe our craziest episode in terms of tone. It’s a very different one for us, really adult and witty.
TVLINE | Any parting words for why people must tune in?
Here’s a show that is relatable and absolutely dirty and filthy and hilarious. [Laughs] It goes across every gender — men and women — and age. People who are older can look at this show and remember making these mistakes and failing in that way.