Whether it's a prison, an office, a hotel, a social class or a family, the best sitcoms deal with characters who are trapped in an exquisitely infuriating situation. From Harold Steptoe to Michael Bluth to Ted Crilley; their attempts to escape breed these great comic creations.
So, it's no surprise that two of the most frustrating situations with the best comic potential - adolescence and suburbia - are being tackled by E4 in its first original sitcom, The Inbetweeners, which continues tonight at 10pm .
Although the humour of the first two episodes owed more to American Pie's grossness than Steptoe's latent tragedy, the show still manages to catch the crap banter of the average 17-year-old within the frame of crap romance, crap pubs, crap house parties and a crap town pretty perfectly.
It's surprising that it's taken this long to put teenage and suburbia together. Reggie Perrin and The Office captured the suburban experience pretty brilliantly, but now the success of Skins has made it easier for TV channels to trust young actors to carry more grown-up series. Suburbia and the uselessness of many 17-year-old boys (my past self included) ought to provide Inbetweeners writers Damon Beesley and Iain Morris with enough set pieces for a couple of seasons..............