|The Inbetweeners (UK)title card.|
|Tucker's Luck title card.|
Naturally, the show does not merely reflect the students' academic progress and engagement in lessons—that would be exceptionally boring—but instead uses lessons and the school as a catalyst or springboard from which the viewer is taken on a journey of exploration, gaining insight into the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. Topics include issues such as dealing with bullies, peer pressure surrounding drinking and taking drugs, whether to push someone in a swimming pool or play a juvenile prank on a fellow classmate, and so on. In many ways, the series was intended to act as a form of parable or instructional device; the show has no overarching narration, but the action is shaped so that the consequences of unwise decisions are demonstrated, often in very stark ways. Indeed, in some episodes highlights or cliffhangers have included students dying (on camera) of drug overdoses or as a result of falling through the roof of unsafe buildings due to misadventure.
|Grange Hill early seasons title card.|
These everyman characters leave school with little or no qualifications and attempt to find work in a very difficult market. Recession is gripping Britain both on and off screen, and without any real plan or structure to their lives, the first season seems to simply chart how the characters idle away their time drinking, recovering from hangovers, and visiting the Job Centre (the British equivalent of the welfare office). Along the way, Alan's father dies, saddling both Alan and his paternal uncle with debt and forcing them to sell both their family home and small construction business; Tucker's dad walks out of the family home never to return; and Tucker's kid sister goes missing for several days, prompting a huge search operation.
|No, this is not the first line-up for New Kids on the Block,|
they are the main characters in Tucker's Luck from left to right
Tommy Watson, Peter "Tucker" Jenkins and Alan Humphries.
Although The Inbetweeners is much more upbeat and somewhat more shallow in its oversimplification of how many suburban teens emerge from childhood innocence in the most clumsy way possible, it is perhaps the perception that these individuals are outcasts—almost pariahs on the edge of a society that they themselves do not feel part of—that makes them endearing to the viewer. In the case of Tucker's Luck, it's not just the main characters who cannot find work; countless others are also in this situation. In the Inbetweeners, countless people are pathetic in their normality; they don't have loads of girlfriends or excellent sex lives, but they do have hang-ups, embarrassing illnesses, and parents who care about them—much like the viewers at home.
Do you remember Tucker's Luck? Did you like it? Feel free to share your memories of it or the '80s in general in the comments below.