Fans of the college nitwits known from the British comedy series “Inbetweeners” shall drown in turmoil no more – Damon Beesley’s “White Gold” is a fair heir to it.
Not only because it stars James Buckley and Joe Thomas, two icons of the British modern comedy. Mostly due to the phallic humor and lots of “arsehole” said between the lines.
“White gold” is set during the golden era of the British window production industry, when selling a piece of glass & cheap frame was really easy-peasy. In a small town, a local company employs Vincent Swan (Ed Westwick) – a salesman whose ego is bigger than America’s debt. The series investigates his ups and downs, as Vincent – accompanied by Martin (Joe Thomas) and Brian (James Buckley) – aims to become much more than “just” the best-selling employee in the history.
The corporate rat race has been a hot topic for years now, whist the practices taking places in the offices were often targeted by comedy series. Hence, “White Gold” is not particularly inventive at its core. It begs for bringing up “The Office”, which brilliantly satirized the boring life of an average corporate worker in a boring industry.
Vincent Swan puts things in motion, which also provides the main context comedy-wise. Due to the very male point of view, it’s a hit or miss kind of humor. It reaches some terribly low levels (mainly with the apparent sex jokes), but at times it grasps the kind of absurd that made “Little Britain” great.
Notwithstanding this uneven level of humor, the main problem of the British comedy series is its protagonist. Vincent Swan is an overly self-confident salesman, who doesn’t possess any redeeming qualities and fails to develop such over the course of the whole season.
It is clear that the authors never intended to make the audience root for the protagonist.
Nevertheless, even though Vincent is ready to sacrifice his family and morality for career, there is no way to sympathize with him at any time. Therefore, Beesley relocates audience’s warm feelings at Martin and partially at Brian – two no-hopers, constantly crawling in Vincent Swan’s shadow. Both actors seem to bring out the characters from “Inbetweeners”, as both stick to the same stereotypes – Buckley is a kind of pitiful stud, whilst Thomas, on the other hand, is the only truly warm and “human” character of the show.
“White Gold” is quite sexist too. Though Linzey Cocker is given attention as Vincent’s spouse, she is often portrayed as either a sobby wife longing for husband at home or a feisty, “independent” woman, with too sharp claws. Both of these are highly stereotypical and despite Cocker’s marvelous performance, her character is sometimes too plain to be believable. It gets worse when looking at other female characters – a knucklehead secretary Carol (Lauren O’Rourke) or the obese and domineering partner of Brian, Maureen – they are dehumanized, serving as cogs in the gag-making machine.
Netflix didn’t hit the jackpot with “White gold” – it’s more of a “map the terrain” kind of thing. The outcome is a concept that might flourish into an entertaining comedy series. Or it might be given one more season, which will be a nail to the coffin. Hopefully, it will not be the latter.
White Gold Season 1 (2017)
Creator: Damon Beesley
Cast: Ed Westwick, James Buckley, Joe Thomas
Hate Grade: 5/10