When my teenage sons first started watching the TV series, I thought they'd discovered something warm and cuddly like The Simpsons or Friends. Then, passing the open doorway to the sitting room, I stopped to have a look myself.
The shock nearly killed me.
"But it's not always like that!" said my eldest. He was about 17 at the time. I don't think he wanted my approval. He just wanted peace and quiet while he lolled on the sofa.
"Seriously," said my younger son. "You should watch it another time. It's funny."
It wasn't funny. It was horrible. Every time I saw it, I went hot with embarrassment – not just because it made me wonder about the teenage boys living under my own roof, but also because it forced me to question what had been going on all those years ago when I was 17 myself, walking hand in hand with the boy of my dreams. I'd been fantasising about flowers and love and romance. He, meanwhile, had been fixated on –
It didn't bear thinking about.
When the film came out, I watched with mute disapproval as my boys disappeared off to the cinema. Sometimes all you can do is maintain a dignified silence.
Then my husband ordered the DVD on LoveFilm.
I was cross. In public, at least. "How could you?" I said.
But then curiosity got the better of me. On Saturday night, with everyone else out or safely in bed, I cracked. I sat on the sofa and watched.
Entirely unexpectedly, I quite liked it. Yes, there were bits that were excruciatingly sordid. But the dancing in the bar was really funny.
And the girls were strong characters. Eventually, although it took them a while, the boys grew up and followed their lead.
The next morning, I told my daughter what I'd been up to the night before.
She squinted at me in disbelief. "I don't believe you," she said.
I had, after all, spent a year explaining to anyone who wanted to listen how The Inbetweeners underpinned the collapse of civilisation as we knew it.
"It was quite a moral film, really," I said airily.
She looked at me. "Sometimes, you know," she said, "you are really weird."
Catch up on previous Surviving Teenagers columns here.
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