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A still from The IT Crowd (FremantleMedia, 2008)
Stories & Ideas

Mon 02 Nov 2020

The IT Crowd – "This Jen, is the internet"

Edit Line Pop culture Television
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Brittney Montag

Festivals & Events Coordinator

Brittney Montag looks at an iconic, yet problematic episode of The IT Crowd.

"This Jen, is the internet" proclaims IT technician, Moss (Richard Ayoade) referring to a small black box on the table. Used to sharing the basement office with only best friend and colleague, Roy; they decide to play a cruel joke on new boss Jen (Katherine Parkinson) as payback for getting named employee of the month despite understanding literally nothing about the department she manages. As the scene progresses, the joke becomes more obvious, yet Jen doesn’t seem to catch a whiff of the boys' smug stench. After believing she’s been blessed by the ‘Internet Elders’ and ‘Stephen Hawking’ to borrow the internet for an afternoon, Jen falls trap to her employees proving their super nerd superiority.

From creator Graham Linehan, who brought us Black Books and Father Ted, The I.T. Crowd catered to both techies and the technologically inept by finding humour in the often-uncomfortable interactions between the two.

This particular episode titled, The Speech, is one of the most well known in the series but also the most controversial for its negative portrayal of a transgender storyline. The UK’s Channel 4 pulled the episode off On-Demand in 2020 after Linehan was banned from Twitter for repeatedly posting hateful comments about the trans community. Graham Linehan has made some iconic television, but it’s important to acknowledge the transphobic views behind the lens and how they appear in the content he creates.

Although The I.T. Crowd got off to a slow start in 2006, it won the hearts of audiences and finished up its final series in 2010 strong with an average of 2.2 million viewers.

The I.T. Crowd is a show about the internet, so it’s no surprise this show has lived a long, full life on the world wide web. It’s safe to say anyone who’s seen the show, or perhaps hasn’t, refers back to Moss and Roy’s famous catchphrase, ‘have you turned it off and on again?’, when dealing with their own real-life technological issues. Especially in 2020, the year we nearly broke the internet.

– Brittney Montag

This essay was written for Edit Line

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