Did we like it?
After seeing the flashy trailer, we were expecting an As If-style drama with lots of pace and great Asboed-up characters. It fails to hit that mark (these kids even sit down to breakfast with their families!), yet is still watchable.
What was good about it?
• The teenage gang is a good mix (albeit unrealistic because birds of a feather flock together) featuring cool guy with very white pants, sassy girl, beautiful girl, kooky girl with eating disorder, gay gay, cheeky guy, Muslim guy with attitude and geek guy with specs.
• Mike Bailey is the best actor and his geeky virgin Sid is the best, most realistic, most engaging character. Mike isn’t to be confused with Rasmus Hardiker (of Rotters Club, Saxondale and Lead Balloon fame) but they are similar.
• Joe Dempsie brings a cheeky innocence to the role of party animal Chris, a refugee from the rave generation in Ali G garb.
• Mitch Hewer’s Maxxie is a non-camp, non-stereotypical gay character, which is a relief. And he even gets his straight mates to go along to the gay pub’s disastrous Big Gay Night Out.
• We love insecure psychology teacher Anjie. In episode one, she’s been dumped. Chris tries to reassure her: “There’s plenty more sports science teachers. It doesn’t matter how big his dick is.”
• There’s quite a lot of flesh on display if you like that sort of thing.
• The mobile phone chats are integrated well into the action – including one scene when Tony is juggling calls from everyone in the gang.
• There are some great set-piece scenes: Sid in the brothel, the mad Polish girl, the destruction caused by the gang at a posh girl’s party (“Mummy had this carpet imported from Iraq. We have to be so careful with the pile.”) where the DJ is upper-class twit MC Hugo.
What was bad about it?
• Nicholas Hoult of About A Boy fame doesn’t quite cut it as the coolest kid in town. He’s too posh, too feminine looking and too clean cut to be a loveable lad. But he does have some good lines eg “I’ve been home, showered, done t’ai chi, had a wank, subtly undermined my dad, put new clothes on, and here I am … with my English coursework.”
• We disliked Hannah Murray’s kooky Cassie in episode one because she was just too spaced out. She’s better in episode two when the storyline delves deeper into her story (centring on her eating disorder). The rest of the girls don’t make much impact in the opening episodes, apart from looking very nice.
• There’s no real style to the show. It’s quite a straight, conventional drama which just happens to be about modern youth.
• The cameo appearances by adults are thrown away a little. Only Harry Enfield as Tony’s fat, foul-mouthed father gets much to bite on. Danny Dyer and Arabella Weir only had a fleeting scene.
• The writers overindulged on metaphors when it came to Sid’s dream to lose his virginity. eg “flying solo down the tunnel of love” and “introducing Mr Happy to the furry room”.
• The car-in-river scene to end episode one had us groaning.
• Drug dealer/certified lunatic Maddison Twatter (aka Mad Twat) is so sinister he’s hateful. And his comedy moustache is plain ridiculous