E4’s Drifters is your new favourite show. Following the booze-induced travails of three friends (Bunny, Laura and Meg) who fall into the black hole of their quarter life crisis, it’s the brainchild stand up Jessica Knappett. Imagine if Jessa from Girls checked her privilege at M1 service station and then went on a raucous hen-do, picking up two mates along the way.
“The idea for the show came from real life,” says Jessica, who plays the caustic Meg on the show. “I was drifting along trying to figure what do with my life and I decided to become an actor and a writer. But of course that didn’t translate to actual work. Until two years ago I was doing anything I could to get by. This mainly meant I was ‘working in promotions’, dressing up as a mobile phone or a piece of fruit, hoping that it wasn’t my future.”
Appropriately for a show that was partly borne from of The Inbetweeners (Jessica and her co-stars Lydia Rose Bewley- who plays the dippy posh Bunny and Lauren O’Rourke- who plays hard, Northern Laura- were in the film adaptation) there’s a post-ladette feel to the programme. As well as jokes about dropping the ‘c’ bomb, doing the walk of shame and googling your maladies on the internet, there are also more x-rated gags in the first 10 minutes of the pilot episode than a Miley Cyrus performance. Did they have any boundaries about what they would and wouldn’t do? “I discussed this with the director and we decided that basically we didn’t want any tits in the show,” says Jessica, with a laugh “because as soon as they’re on screen it’s the only thing people look at. They make things less funny.”
Although the show is filled with plenty of gross out moments, the underlying focus is on the bond between the three friends.
“Their friendship is like a family, although there is a different dynamic in each episode,” agrees Lauren. “Meg has no common sense, but at times acts like a mother figure to the other two. Then it switches because Lauren is disgusted with Meg’s choice in men, so she’s like an angry father.”
Despite the natural comparisons to Girls Jessica is adamant the parallel is not valid. “It’s like comparing Britain to America!,” she says “Girls is this huge cinematic, massive HBO programme about taking Manhattan. Lena Dunham writes about these big sweeps of emotion. I write about scabies. There’s no way I’ll be as cool as her.”
Although she cites 30 Rock and Absolutely Fabulous as her sitcom influences, Jessica treads carefully around the fact that the show is a female fronted comedy show. “You can’t help but think about (the implications),” she says “but I’ve never felt (being female) hindered me. So we did n’t feel the need to bang on about it. At the same time I’m lucky enough to be making a sitcom featuring strong, funny women.”
Although Drifters follows the treacherous journey to adulthood, Jessica believes the show could run for a while. “People spend their whole lives drifting don’t they? The older people get the more desperate they become. It could just run and run. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
A double bill of Drifters episodes one and two are on E4 on Thursday beginning 9 pm. Thereafter will be on E4 at 9.30pm.