I’ve quite enjoyed series 1 (series 2 was announced today) of White Gold, the 1980s comedy-drama that finishes its run on BBC TWO this evening. But I haven’t enjoyed the reviews, which seem to have lazily decided that this is an adult Inbetweeners. So here are four ways in which White Gold is very different from its much loved predecessor:
The Inbetweeners has a huge heart. It goes out of its way to distinguish between its characters (whom it largely portrays sympathetically) and their ludicrous behaviour. The whole premise is that these guys are out of their depth and that most of us were in our teens: we’re all in on it.
White Gold on the other hand is all about the appallingness of Vincent Swan. And it’s about cheating and backstabbing and scheming. And much as Vincent wants to impress us, with his cocky narratives to camera, we want no part of it.
Some viewers have spotted the excellent chemistry between Joe Thomas and James Buckley and drawn the wrong conclusion. Brian could be an adult Jay, perhaps. Perhaps. His prank on Vincent at the awards is something Jay would aspire to (though Jay would probably not have the ability to carry it out.) He lurches between being full of it and being ludicrously pathetic. But to be honest he isn’t really fleshed out enough for us to know. I can’t imagine Simon taking Vincent’s nonsense without a massive strop which would with any luck involve him sitting on a shed roof. In fact, none of the characters is really developed further than the comedy requires, with the possible exception of Vincent’s wife Sam. Which brings us to:
There’s no dramatic tension in The Inbetweeners. Apart, perhaps for the time they’re stranded on a rowing boat. I thought it was brave for White Gold to end the farcical set piece in the awards ceremony with Sam weeping: on its own that ending could have been ridiculously melodramatic but the contrast between comedy and drama said more about the frailty of the 1980s than many a documentary on Thatcher. White Gold is happy to experiment and that’s a great strength.
It may have been to get past the censors but The Inbetweeners brought us new words a-plenty. White Gold reverts to more four letter Anglo-Saxon than you could possibly need. I don’t normally have a problem with this but when you couple it to the general misanthropy of the lead character it grates a bit.
Let’s hope Vincent really gets his comeuppance in series 2.