The new comedies show from Damon Beesley, White Gold, has the strange-but-familiar setup with stars of The Inbetweeners and Gossip Girl coming together to flog windows in a new TV comedy.
It’s 1983, Britain has a female Tory PM, and labor is in the doldrums. Individualism is the ideology of the day. In a double-glazing showroom in Essex, Jay from The Inbetweeners is taking the mick out of Simon also from The Inbetweeners, while Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl looks on with amusement.
The show lets us following the triumphs and balls-ups of a trio of window salesmen as they try to shimmy up the greasy pole to success. Vincent Swan (Ed Westwick) is a smarmy family man who continually cheats on his wife with the nous to play the lucrative double-glazing game for massive profit. Fitzpatrick (James Buckley) idiotic, crude and a chronic liar, while Lavender (Joe Thomas) is the everyman thrown into this slightly hellish workplace.
Watching White Gold feels like two worlds colliding and while the show’s early 80s setting offers a number of neat parallels to today, for the most part the show feels like another planet. As Beesley, whose father was a double-glazing salesman, shares, characters bring up a real sense off ambition and optimism. “They were allowed up through the social classes, that’s what the 80s let happen”, he also says. In that age of austerity, it isn’t just social mobility that the show memorializes. The characters also operate with a swaggering ignorance. “One of the attractive things about that decade, or the way it’s shown here, is that there isn’t much guilt”, says Thomas, “There’s not much self-questioning going on, both in terms of ‘I should be wealthy’ and also in terms of ‘my opinions will be correct’. You look shit, they look like idiots, all those people are dicks, and those views are right, because ‘It makes me feel good to say it”. For the men in White Gold, checking your privilege is out of the question, and political correctness levels are rock bottom. With this sort of milieu, there is no doubt to say White Gold always going to have some likability issues.
The Inbetweeners is probably the best comedy about teenagers ever made, and if White Gold feels like a companion piece that’s because it maintains a similar air of adolescence. However, unlike the healthy stew of humiliation, fear and naivety that informed the lives of The Inbetweeners, there’s something slightly more rotten about the stupidity of the characters in White Gold as Thomas says about the show: “These guys think they’re just being cheeky, but there are big consequences. It’s the horrible inversion of adulthood. It really matters now, but I still don’t know what I’m doing”.