Sabotage Times, We can't Concentrate so Why Should You?Sabotage Times, We can't Concentrate so Why Should You?

Youngers: Steering Clear of Council Estate Clichés

by Tobi Oke
2 April 2013

A quarter of the way in, the early verdict on E4’s latest offering Youngers has been surprisingly positive and rightfully so. Owing to a list of factors they’ve managed to get right and a few pitfalls wisely avoided...


On hearing the words, “brand new ‘urban’ drama” combined with “young unknown actors”, I wasn’t sure I could hold out an hour of what would surely be a cringe-inducing stereotypical mess, as this type of thing usually amounts to. With the great critical performance and reception of 2012’s brilliant four-part series Top Boy still fresh, it wasn’t to be long before more of the same ‘urban’,(honestly, that’s the last time I’m using that word) drama of the same ilk followed.

I was pretty much prepared for Adam Deacon popping up with his trademark cameos of outdated slang and hilariously unthreatening gangster posturing, alongside armed teen gangs running around council estates like third world civil war zones. With expectations like this, Youngers would have to be a new level of bad to truly disappoint me, it didn’t. Very much the opposite; in part because it went the comedy-drama route and with contributors in writing including Levi David Addai (responsible for last years, My Murder) and Georgia Lester (Skins) showing their expertise in catering for the audience properly, without resorting to cliché after cliché.

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The actors play their characters first, their circumstances, background and socialisation comes with it and isn’t the stand out feature. This is the bed for all things and over the first two episodes the lead characters Yemi (Ade Oyefeso) and Jay (Calvin Demba) have flourished. On the downside, already it seems like it’ll end up hopelessly predictable, the genuine laugh out loud moments are at a premium and there’s a very real issue of characters dressed in every colour of the rainbow. In LA? Maybe, but growing up in South London, the only person I witnessed that violently mixed colours like this was Timmy Mallet.

Another top decision was made musically, bringing in the assistance of producer Aiden ‘Skitz Beatz’ Hogart (I bought his compilation mixtape ‘In The Zone’ back in 2006, which isn’t really important apart from pointing out, it’s still on my iPod, automatically placing it in the classics category) as the music producer/composer/curator of the show. I’ll only semi-extend my praise to the show for now, I should return by the finale to round up on how it all panned out, see if it developed the edge necessary to make it memorable. As of now, it’s not half as bad as expected and in this particular field, that’s pretty damn good.

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