Review of The IT Crowd (2006)
Seen in 2019.
From 2019, The IT Crowd looks remarkably dated. This is partly because of the older computer equipment littering the first-season office for in-character nostalgic reasons and partly because it was shot in front of a live studio audience after that school of production went out of style, making it look more static than other sitcoms from the mid oughts. The writing, also, feels dated: It doesn’t reflect the pace or force of development. The existence of viral memes is acknowledged, but until the 2013 special that capped off the series, there doesn’t seem to be anything more disruptive online than the likes of Numa Numa.
The same conservative attitude spans the production format, the depiction of technology and the social attitudes. Plenty of jokes are just mean, such as the way “toilet cleaners” are depicted in season 1, episode 6: Three actors doing their best to look stupid to the point of serious disability and never saying a word. It’s dehumanizing, and that’s what I expect from Graham Linehan. True to his predilections, there’s some edgelord anti-trans humour, male-victim sexual harassment and general sexism. He returns to the subject of cleaners in season 4, episode 2, only to bring further attention to their low social status as cause for shame.
The humour is not technical. You don’t need to know anything about computers, except perhaps to recall that Windows Vista was bad, which is an off-handed joke in season 4, episode 5. Callbacks, on the other hand, are somewhat frequent, and you do need to know something about British pop culture, including Countdown (1982), which features heavily in season 4, episode 2.
Richard Ayoade is brilliant as Maurice Moss. Though the character is subjected to idiot-balling and the invention of new idiosyncrasies to sustain poor B plots, the core concept for Moss is excellent: The gentle, intelligent introvert whose work does wonders for the company and his friends, and whose sources of happiness are frequently orthogonal to theirs. Season 3, episode 1 puts his social awkwardness and dangerous pragmatic troubleshooting on display while season 3, episode 2 (“Are We Not Men?”) has him learning a behaviourist version of football jargon to associate more smoothly with ordinary men in the show’s most intelligent and sympathetic take on nerd mentality. Autism is only mentioned in that 2013 special and it’s not applied to Moss. Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory (2007) franchise fame is an inferior Moss: cold, boastful and more alienated from the audience.