There are two legitimately funny moments in E4’s latest attempt at capturing the hearts of a teenage/young-adult demographic, Gap Year. There were two. There were two total in a 40-minute show. The first comes from a character who then promptly disappears before you can even say, “but wait a minute, you’re the best thing about this show so far”. The second comes in the form of a t-shirt that combines Chairman Mao and Barack Obama to create ‘Obamoa’, which really tickled my punny bone.
Sadly, these are some very small high points in an episode that struggles to climb out the cesspit. The show is frustrating because the producers fail to do anything with the show’s promising premise. We first meet Sean and Dylan on the way to China for a ‘lads holiday’. Here lies the first bout of hilarity, coming when they find out that the Far East will not be a hotbed of girls, booze, and beaches – why this would be a shock to anyone I have no idea.
We are soon introduced to what seems to be the rest of the main cast: travel buddies Ashley and May, plus their unwanted tag-along Greg. At first glance, the two women don’t seem like the nicest of characters, as they try to ditch Greg in the middle of a foreign country, and willingly take money that Dylan has dropped rather than chasing him down the street.
The plot muddles along as the newly formed quintet attempt to find a music festival on the Great Wall – something that I very much doubt is actually a thing. The story is fine, if a tad predictable, with the odd attempt at humour thrown in along the way. This is not the show’s greatest issue however.
It is the lack of likeable characters that really makes Gap Year the tragedy that it is – so much so that the supposed friends don’t even seem to like each other. The creators seem to want us to like Dylan, and in fairness he does seem like the nicest of the five, but it all falls apart when we find out that he has only come to China in a desperate attempt to win back his ex-girlfriend. The fact he’s using mobile data to track her runs only makes me more concerned about how much this must be costing him.
Sean is inoffensive, and largely obsessed with finding a holiday romance. Alas, this doesn’t seem likely, as he’s got about as much personality as a full stop. Ashley is a snake. May is overly pretentious. And Greg. Well Greg is just a lazy stereotype of an idiot.
It’s a massive shame, as E4 hasn’t always been this bad. The Inbetweeners weren’t necessarily likeable but they at least had personality and some redeeming qualities. These five have neither.
I’m beginning to feel that missing out on a gap year maybe wasn’t such a bad thing.
Image:Hoa Wei @Wikimedia Commons