Brad Copeland and Aaron Kaplan Talk About Americanizing the British Series THE INBETWEENERS, Casting the Show and Making it Their Own

     August 12, 2012

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“Inbetweeners” are not nerds or jocks, but the kids who are smack in the middle of the high school social ladder.  Based on the critically acclaimed, award-winning British series of the same name, The Inbetweeners (premiering on MTV on August 20th) takes a comedic look at a group of teenagers navigating high school and charging into adulthood.

While at the MTV portion of the TCA Press Tour, executive producer Brad Copeland (Arrested Development, My Name Is Earl) and executive producer Aaron Kaplan talked about taking the essence of the British series and giving it its own unique American twist, who ranks even lower than inbetweeners, finding the right cast for this show, how they feel about the lack of diversity, using offensive and crude humor, and how much they’ll be deviating from the British storylines.  Check out what they had to say after the jump. 

the-inbetweenersQuestion:  Even though they are inbetweeners, do they ever get to do anything cool?

BRAD COPELAND:  They get opportunities to do things that are cool, but they handle them poorly and comically.  I don’t think we’re ever going to really let them do anything that’s actually cool.

AARON KAPLAN:  When most people that were inbetweeners in high school, look back at all the uncool things they did, there’s that interesting dynamic where all the cool guys, 20 years later, don’t seem so cool, and it’s the inbetweeners that are running the world.  What I love about it so much is that all those uncool things are pretty cool to me.

Why are these people in between, and will viewers see the people at the bottom of the spectrum?

COPELAND:  Yes.  In the pilot we have the wall-eaters.  We see a group of guys that set the bar for lower than the inbetweeners.  We had them in my high school.  They’re the kids that literally didn’t sit at tables in the cafeteria.  They just leaned up against the wall and ate their food.  This season, and in following seasons, we will always show that there’s somewhere lower to go, which will always be a threat to these guys.

the-inbetweeners-castHow did you find the cast for this show?

COPELAND:  It was a very, very long process.  The thing that made the British show so great was not only the writing but the cast.  Everyone had a really unique, specific voice, and was extremely memorable.  We tried not to copy exactly what they were doing with the original, and just take the essence of it and find guys that grabbed you, in those inbetween personalities.  We wanted them to be slightly different, but memorable and funny and sweet.  So, finding four of those guys was extremely difficult and it took awhile.  It was a very long search.  We were searching, all the way down to the end.  

Were you worried about the lack of diversity?

COPELAND:  We tried.  We definitely brought in diversity for every role, and we tried during the season.  I’d like to do better.  We’re doing it where we can.  But, we definitely have a color-blind casting. 

Some of the jokes on the British show were really offensive and rude, and that’s where a lot of the humor lies.  How did you deal with that, in this version?

KAPLAN:  Well, America likes to be offended as well.  Like anything else, it’s a challenge.  That’s one of the things that Brad and I and MTV loved about the original.  In spite of how offensive it could be, it was incredibly sweet.  We made up a lot of original words that we can get past standards.  The fact is that, when you take these four boys and put them in dating situations and situations that involve being irresponsible, you’ll find that they can be just as offensive as any kid, across the world.

the-inbetweeners-imageHow long will you use the general plots from the British series, and is there a point at which you simply toss the British plotlines out the window and go in your own direction?

COPELAND:  There is, simply because we will run out.  With the first season, out of 12 episodes, six borrow skewed versions of their plots.  We have plots that we really enjoyed from the series, that we wanted to put in, but we had to tweak them a little bit just to fit in with the American sensibility.  They only did 18 episodes, so there’s really just not that much to borrow.  I think the six episodes that we did on our own this season worked really, really well.  It definitely gave us a launchpad to now transition into our own story, and to take these universal themes and the characters from the original British version and make it our own, somewhat like The Office did.  We’re really looking forward to that.

How do you view the points of deviation?

COPELAND:  For me, I’m an inbetweener.  I was a marching band geek.  I think that we’re going to take it to places where it means something to us, and where the stories are our stories, just like the stories of the original Inbetweeners were for Iain and Damon.  The idea of kids in high school, struggling to have sex and drink and do all these things, are universal.  They’ve been around since Porky’s, at least.  It’s always the same thing, whether it’s American Pie or The Breakfast Club.  It’s just people tapping into their own experiences.  What you’re going to see is all of us tapping into our own experiences, with our cast as well.  They’ve all had high school experiences, and some of them are still in it.

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