Drifters is awful. Its jokes are terrible, it is filled with an annoying, childish vulgarity and, worst of all, it’s boring. Huge stretches of these first two episodes felt like dead air, with nothing interesting and nothing funny happening. There’s a fine line between worthwhile Inbetweeners comedy and crude Scary Movie comedy and Drifters falls firmly into the latter camp.
Episode one introduced the characters – Meg, Bunny and Laura. The second episode followed Meg on a disastrous date that felt like a rip-off Miranda but with lots of swear words because this is edgy, E4 TV.
The show is pointedly crude. Characters talk about ‘bukkake’ and repeatedly discuss dicks. It’s like Sex and the City but without the class. Or a hen party. A horrible, endless, innuendo-filled hen party. You get the impression that the writer thinks she is being revolutionary by showing women talking dirty. If you’re going to fill your show with crude humour though, you need to make it funny or it sounds like a bunch of 14-year-olds trying to sound like adults.
The plotting has no attempts at realism. At the start of the first episode a ridiculously handsome guy approached Meg out of the blue and asked for her number, despite the fact that she was dressed in a giant mobile phone costume at the time, because he apparently spotted her from his office window. That’s just fucking lazy. Drifters is like a sketch show, with telegraphed punchlines, cartoonish characters and broad performances. While these things are okay in sketch shows, with their pace and creativity and piled-on jokes, in a sitcom such artificiality feels cheap.
The show in general is very lazy. The ‘funny’ reveal at the end of the second episode was that the girls had gate-crashed a funeral. In order to make this work, the funeral was held at night, had its own bouncer, was next to a club, was attended by happy people, and the girls didn’t recognise any of the funeral décor – none of which was shown to the audience either obviously. For this joke to work, the characters would need to have realistically crashed a funeral. Set-ups matter. A good joke has a strong set-up; a bad joke a weak one. Drifters builds all its jokes on unbelievable bullshit.
The core characters in the show aren’t likeable. One is a vulgar idiot and another is a posh idiot. Only Meg has any appeal and even she is a pretty awful person. Compare this to the characters in another Inbetweeners influenced show, ITV2’s Plebs. One character in that show – a vulgar idiot – is likeable because he has a false bravado that barely masks a vulnerability in his character. Another stupid character is likeable because his idiocy is taken to extremes; like Baldrick in Blackadder, he is a harmless fool without malice or pretensions. If, as in Drifters, these characters were just 2D idiots then their awfulness becomes their only trait and they lose any appeal.
Drifters is a lazy mishmash of other more successful shows. It’s a programme without likeable characters or a properly realised world. It’s lazy, low, bottom of the barrel comedy.