On Monday, August 20, MTV is set to debut "The Inbetweeners," a new comedy series based upon the popular British show of the same name. Joey Pollari; Bubba Lewis; Zack Pearlman and Mark L. Young star as a mismatched quartet of friends attempting to get through high school and all of the various trials and humiliations that ensue.
More importantly, these kids are stuck in the middle of the high school hierarchy. They're not cool or athletic enough to be jocks, nor are they geeky enough to be nerds. Their status may not win them many friends, but they're not about to fade into the background. In fact, these guys embrace the inbetween as they attempt to carve out their own identities.
To celebrate the upcoming debut of "The Inbetweeners," we've assembled a list of five of our favorite TV characters who also embraced the middle and made the most of their lives. Or even their "So-Called Lives"
No list like this would be complete without Claire Danes' Angela Chase from the short lived series, "My So-Called Life." Back in the '90s, "My So-Called Life" redefined the teen drama genre thanks to Dane's surprisingly raw and honest depiction of Angela.
Angela was a girl who was intelligent, introspective and very self aware as she attempted to reinvent herself in high school. Angela's problems were frequently dramatic and sometimes even a little dangerous. In other words, this wasn't "Saved By The Bell." Naturally, ABC canceled it after a single season.
"My So-Called Life" was simply ahead of its time, as was Angela herself.
"Malcolm In The Middle" was an influential '90s comedy series that focused on Malcolm (Frankie Muniz), the middle child in a large family who was cast into the advanced classes against his wishes, thanks to his genius level intellect.
Malcolm often tried to shed his geek image or keep his family and friends from humiliating him. But sometimes, Malcolm was his own worst enemy as his ego or his mouth got him into even bigger trouble with his family and peers.
Yet for all of Malcolm's faults, everyone around him had the sense that he meant for greater things. And although Malcolm was last seen working his way through Harvard as a janitor, he may still live up to his parents' lofty expectations and become President of the United States.
Linda Cardellini's Lindsay Weir was also a pioneer of the middle in "Freaks and Geeks," a cult TV series that is fondly remembered. Lindsay had what I'm going to call a "young life crisis" when her grandmother died.
Previously, Linda had been a scholastic overachiever and even a "Mathlete" before she began openly questioning the nature of her life, her religion and even her place the in high school social structure. Linda found a measure of acceptance with the kids derisively called "freaks" by their peers. And Linda remained true to herself while continuing to evolve as a person.
Yes, that's right… there are two characters from "Freaks and Geeks" on this list. What can I say? The show really was that good and it was executive produced by Judd Apatow before he was THE Judd Apatow.
Unlike his sister, Linda, Sam Weir (John Francis Daley) was definitely on the geeky side; while harboring an openly grand love for science fiction and comedy. Although Sam also chaffed under the geek label like Malcolm, he was probably a little bit better natured than his predecessor.
"Freaks and Geeks" didn't last long enough for Sam to truly break into the middle of high school society, but there were a few signs that he was gradually making progress.
Jenna Hamilton (Ashley Rickards) is literally the new girl on this list and the lead character of MTV's comedy series, "Awkward." Much like the previous four characters, Jenna is neither truly a nerd nor an athlete. She simply wants to establish her own identity and fit in at high school. Jenna's more optimistic about her life than say… Angela Chase. But they both have seem to have an inner strength in common.
Perhaps more than anyone else on this list, Jenna has successfully entered "the middle" by making changes in her life and embracing her well known misfortune. Jenna may not be on top of the social standing, but she's no longer an outcast. And it says a lot about who she is inside that Jenna seems to have genuine empathy for her nemesis, Sadie (Molly Tarlov).
These are the legends of "The Middle." And perhaps someday, the main characters of "The Inbetweeners": Simon Cooper, Neil Sutherland, Will McKenzie and Jay Cartwright will earn their place on this list as well.
Don't miss the premiere of "The Inbetweeners," Monday, August 20 at 10:30PM on MTV!