We all want to throw our computers in the trash at some point in our lives.
The IT Crowd, a British sitcom that centers on the basement dwellers of a corporate IT Department, feels your pain. The IT Crowd takes the focus off those devil machines and instead uses them as a springboard to poke fun at serious things like homelessness and physical disabilities. The plotlines are bawdy without being mean-spirited, and The IT Crowd’s creator, Graham Linehan, is an expert at weaving together bizarre stories.
British humor is super dry, laden with irony, sarcasm and sight gags. Punch line delivery is deadpan. The British use silly words like “crumb-bum.” Sexual innuendo is everywhere. The IT Crowd is no exception. Characters readily say “poo” and namecheck Stephen Fry. They say “bloody” a lot, and instead of PMS, it’s PMT, but you can easily adjust to the English way of comedy.
In The IT Crowd, Jen Barber (Katherine Parkinson), the self-anointed “relationship manager” for Reynholm Industries’ IT Department, is tasked with making sure techno-geniuses Maurice Moss (Richard Ayoade) and Roy Trenneman (Chris O’Dowd) don’t pull down their pants at dinner parties. Moss and Roy are decent guys—they just need a little help in social situations. For example, Roy once spent a date with what looked like poo on his forehead, and Moss would rather send an email about a fire in the office than bother someone with a call.
Joining them are sex-crazed boss Douglas (Matt Berry), who will shag any woman who walks through his door, and pasty-white Richmond (Noel Fielding), a corporate-exec-turned IT/goth, who only emerges from his windowless computer hut to deliver pointless soliloquies.
There are only 24 episodes of The IT Crowd, which ran from 2006 to 2010, including a 2013 series finale—a compact binge-watching size, and it’s all on Netflix. The IT Crowd is perfect for those who prefer off-color, British comedy that’s also slightly dirty, and if you’re interested in checking it out, here are the 10 best episodes of the show.
Frustrated with being constantly left out of sports convos, Moss and Roy take matters into their own hands. They stumble onto “Bluffball,” a website with conversation starters to help the sports-impaired. But it can’t save them from their true selves—two guys who can’t read social cues and are bored to death by the hottest game in Britain. When their sporty new friends goad Roy into being the getaway driver for a robbery, Roy’s too preoccupied with the radio station to wonder why they all suddenly have black ski masks. That’s Moss and Roy: Two decent blokes who hate football and participate in bank robberies.
The IT Crowd has an uncanny ability to find humor in any marginalized population without said humor crossing into cruelty. Here, via a heartfelt video, they take aim at the boss-eyeds , (the British version of cross-eyeds). Your surgeon? Boss-eyed. That crossing guard? Boss-eyed. In “Calendar Geeks,” Roy pretends to be a calendar photographer to impress a girl who has a brother who is cross-eyed. You know where this is going. “Calendar Geeks” shows how far those not blessed with an outgoing personality will go for immortality—in this case, the chance to date a gorgeous woman and tell all your single friends about it.
There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to gentle Moss; a brilliant inventor, he creates the AbracadaBRA, an electric version of the Wonder Bra. The bra, which gives Jen a newfound level of confidence, also convinces her that she can market Moss’ idea on a TV show. Roy, of course, is just there for the money. Unfortunately, what Moss has in ingenuity, he lacks in common sense. When he makes too many modifications to the lingerie, their dreams of success go up in flames. The IT Crowd is just like the rest of us—nobody can pass up the chance to get rich quick.
No subject is off the table in an IT Crowd episode—they make fun of the handicapped, autistic, short people and pedophiles, not to mention sex addicts and people who look like magicians. So packing in as many euphemisms as they can about a woman’s period is really child’s play for them. In “Aunt Irma Visits,” when Roy admits feeling “delicate” and “ugly,” and Moss throws his computer across the room, Jen suggests they’re synchronizing with her menstrual cycle. What? It could happen.
Poor Roy—when he’s in a relationship that’s too perfect, he’ll deliberately find a way to sabotage his happiness. He becomes obsessed, Close Encounters-style, with how his girlfriend’s parents were killed in a fire at a Sea Lion show. His re-enactment of the event, complete with paper figures, ends in a blaze of glory. And really, who hasn’t done that? Meanwhile, Moss gets stuck in a stuffed-toy vending machine while chasing after a new phone. Jen becomes his obstetrician and doula as he painfully grunts to push the phone out. Come for the mashed potatoes, stay for Moss birthing a cellphone.
Usually, by the time a sitcom ends its run, its episodes have become staid run-throughs that desperately try to recall the show’s glory days. But despite some weak plotlines and a better first half, The IT Crowd’s one-hour series finale is one of its funniest, brashest episodes. Roy is accused of being a “small-person racist,” Douglas commandeers a fleet of boob-laden buses, and Moss wears women’s slacks for confidence. It all combines with Jen’s encounters with a homeless person to create a global scandal that leaves the group despised, ready for the scrap heap. But fear not—even with the show’s most outrageous moments at hand, it still rises to a decent level of humanity.
For all Jen’s boastings of being the office “relationship manager,” she can’t tell that her date is actually gay. Possessing an open mind, she’s willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, even though he’s taking her to see “Gay!—A Gay Musical.” And Roy, who’s also at the musical with Moss, is discovered in the handicapped bathroom and fakes being disabled. Life Lessons: Jen discovers that she’s just as insecure in love as Moss and Roy, while Roy only learns which lever not to pull when using a handicapped bathroom.
“Tramps Like Us” combines the hilarity of Douglas’s gutter mentality with Jen’s likable persona. This episode is also probably better known as the “electric sex pants” episode. Let’s explain. After Jen sues Douglas for sexual harassment, he’s ordered to wear electric pants that shock his bits every time he becomes aroused. In a sad twist, he enlists Moss to save the day. In a more subtle plotline, Jen seeks brighter shores, preferably an office with windows. But she only proves to herself that she’s an outsider, too, just like Moss and Roy, and learns to accept it.
Roy gets a massage for his bad back, but sues the masseuse because he “kissed my arse.” To win his case in court, he uses genius euphemisms like “cleftal horizon” and “trouser hams,” and must put a picture of the masseuse’s face onto a diagram of his bum. Special note: “Something Happened” has what may be the best IT Crowd infomercial , about “Spaceology” and cosmic ordering —an utterly ridiculous theory that simply wishing for something gets you what you want. “Something Happened” couldn’t tie these two storylines together, but the infomercial and Roy’s bum talk more than make up for that deficit.
Moss—sweet, shy Moss—finds his calling as a quiz-show champion. He even takes on a new persona, “Word,” in a secret bar that serves milk for Scrabble fanatics. As many IT Crowd episodes acknowledge, people like Moss and Roy—considered “nerds” by some—still want what everyone wants—a place to be accepted. In “The Final Countdown,” Moss proudly lives the dream for which all geekdom yearns—popularity and respect without compromise for brains. He even beats the bad guy in an epic word battle on the mean streets of a parking garage.