You best put seat belts on your ears, because I’m about to take them for the ride of their lives: British sitcom The IT Crowd has a fourth season hitting airwaves (and, presumably, Internet waves) today after a lengthy wait, and it’s going to be amazing. Not too long ago, we gave you six reasons to watch Starz’ Party Down, and another addition to your summer must-watch list is this deadpan geek-centric comedy. It takes place in the fictional Reynholm Industries, which does we-don’t-know-what and makes billions doing it. It revolves around the lives of the company’s three most down-trodden employees: the folks of the basement IT Department.
Roy and Moss are your typical technicians: one, the slacker (and “the Irishman”), the other, a terminally socially-awkward nerdite. Jen was recently hired as head of the Department because her Curriculum Vitae included “experience with computers,” although she knows almost nothing about technology. The show’s three six-episode seasons revolve around their day-to-day misadventures, including Jen’s time of the month, the Friendface phenomenon and the discovery of Richmond, who works (lives?) behind the red door in the office where the server is kept.
Here are five reasons why you should watch The IT Crowd right away:
It doesn’t have an American equivalent.
Unlike contemporary mockumentary The Office, developed for American television from the original starring Ricky Gervais, The IT Crowd hasn’t sparked an American equivalent. There was that one time, in 2007, when the show was almost remade for NBC: Richard Ayoade, who plays Moss in the original, actually reprised his role in a pilot episode for the series and Graham Linehan headed a team of writers that produced a few scripts, but plans for the remake were inexplicably dropped. The Hollywood Reporter says the series “didn’t quite spark” with NBC higher-ups. This is brilliant for the series, however, because it is founded in very British humor. Speaking of which…
Simon Pegg wrote a column in The Guardian a few years ago that confronts the British humor vs. American humor myth. This ties in to revamping the series for American audiences; it’s unnecessary, because what makes The IT Crowd so funny is what is “inherently British” about it: the use of irony, sarcasm and dry humor in addition to poking fun at geeks. Instead of making it inaccessible to international audiences, the style makes the show unique.
Richard Ayoade as Maurice Moss
Despite hilarious and well-received turns in The IT Crowd and off-kilter British comedy The Mighty Boosh (which spawned Internet meme Old Gregg), Ayoade hasn’t broken into the international market the way that co-stars Chris O’Dowd (Pirate Radio, Dinner for Schmucks and an upcoming role in Gulliver’s Travels) and Katherine Parkinson (Pirate Radio, How To Lose Friends and Alienate People) have. He plays up socially awkward to extremes and does a gut-splitting job of it:
Big Business Satire
A lot of television shows—American and British alike—center on job despair and drudgery. It might be old hat to poke fun at the corporate lifestyle, but The IT Crowd does so to extremes and maintains a completely straight face about it the entire time:
It is taped in front of a live audience.
Rather than relying on canned laughter popular in some sitcoms, the organic reactions of a live crowd give a certain something to sitcoms that helps you feel like a part of the crowd seeing it for the first time. It’s not an uncommon device, but it “does make for some pretty entertaining blooper reels.
The IT Crowd airs in the U.S. on IFC and all three seasons are available for instant streaming on Netflix. The fourth season that starts today has already seen the pre-release of the first episode on British broadcaster Channel 4’s website, but due to geographical restrictions, U.S. viewers can’t watch it yet. A fifth season has already been ordered for the series, so we’ll definitely be seeing more of Roy, Moss and Jen in the future.