So, without further ado, a comprehensive [read: 4 items on either side!] list of the overrated and underrated in England, as told by a limey.
Beer: It's true. Our biggest alcoholic export is fast becoming a myth in terms of its unrivaled brilliance. Granted, we have a lot of excellent ales and whatnot [Theakston's Old Peculier is a personal favourite, along with John Smith's and Boddingtons], but there's also a lot of overhyped piss in a bottle. If I see you drinking Newcastle Brown Ale, I will punch you in the face. It's room temperature filtered excrement served in a clear bottle. The quality of yank brew is rapidly rising thanks to the microbrew movement, and my universal beer of choice is apparently from Oregon. Go figure. So yes. Drop the monologue about English beer being the saliva of God. It just isn't what it used to be.
Intelligence: A lot of pop culture's most wicked villains [and suavest heroes] have been born in the British Isles. There's something about the mystique of Oxford and Cambridge Universities that translates to a lust for worldwide domination and a gargantuan vocabulary. Across the world, us Brits have picked up a heady reputation of being smarter than thee and holier than thou. Alas, the veneer is cracking. As much as it pains me to admit, we're plummeting at an alarming rate. According to recent studies, the UK has dropped dramatically in both reading and maths, despite billions of taxpayer pounds being spent on the education system. It's troubling that future generations of my people are thus much stupider, and while I lament this downward spiral, it makes me thankful I was in the school system during the glory days. Looking at that chart in the second link, it would come as no surprise if the next wave of Hollywood supervillains hail from Finland.
Accent: once our greatest weapon in the war for casual sex, I have to call our accent as being overrated. While there is a degree of mirth in the way we say "tomato", "basil" or "parmesan", it gets tiring after a while on both sides of the equation. Don't get me wrong, the accent is still great, but once Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow attempt to skip onto the linguistic bandwagon, it has to become overrated by default. Seriously. Fuck Madonna. She should fuck off back to New Jersey or wherever and stop trying to run from who she is. [But that conversation is for another time.]
Music: Sigh, here we go. Music. We have produced some of the world's best EVER: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Bones, the Who, Black Sabbath, Radiohead to name but six. However, there's a lot of shit trickling across the ocean now too, mainly because A&R muppets at the major labels have become accustomed to signing anyone with an accent [see: above] and jangly-sounding guitars. The Britpop movement was briefly inspired but ultimately pompous and frustrating to endure, our hip-hop scene is sadly lacking [which upsets me the most], and our pop singers are as vain and air-headed as any. I never could get into the Arctic Monkeys, and Bloc Party's 15 minutes have to end soon, don't they? While we are responsible for a lot of cultural touchstones in the history of music, there's a lot of dreck I wish I could erase. Our music ain't what it used to be.
Women: My country has been long ridiculed as the home of bad teeth and ugly people. While that may have been true in medieval times, I'm happy to report that it's no longer accurate. Thanks to the recent WAGs explosion [Wives and Girlfriends, for those not in the know], England is pulling back into the world's hottest totty rankings, and with good reason. Go on, take a look: Louise Redknapp, Alex Curran, Cheryl Cole, Michaela Henderson-Thynne, Abigail Clancy.... the list is gloriously endless. Thanks to them, England is shedding its reputation as the home of facial warts, dominating headmistresses, and wonky gumlines.
Food: It isn't all fish and chips you know. England has a lot of the world's best restaurants now, from the Fat Duck to all of Gordon Ramsay's digs across the country. While we do love our fried foods, we've a lot more to offer: meat pies, roasted oxtail, mushy peas, curry, gastropubs, as well as a lot of quality ethnic food.We even have this glorious thing called a Scotch Egg. Once you eat one, you'll shut up about our food. It's a hard-boiled egg covered in sausage meat, then breaded and cooked. It's fucking great! We eat them cold, like cholesterol-filled M&Ms for a delicious afternoon snack. Go on, make fun: I will counter by saying it's hard to get a meal in the US that isn't covered in melted cheese, barbeque sauce or those meat-free fat strips you call American bacon.
Comedy: Monty Python. 'Nuff said. It would be nice if our sense of humour transcends beyond obscure cult status and into the general consciousness. People preach about the bottomless genius of Seinfeld, but it would be nice if some of our comedies made it across here and had a chance to take root. Watch The IT Crowd and laugh uncontrollably. It might cure the malaise of seeing Kelsey Grammar fudge his way through another sitcom with some broad who was in an old sitcom too.
Weather: Shit on it if you will, but the weather in England is seriously underrated. We have a reputation of being the world's dumping ground for precipitation, but, the fact is, it's as warm in London today as it is in San Diego. Not exactly t-shirt and shorts weather, but then again, our pasty legs don't look good in half-pants. We do get more rain than the average place, but we don't suffer the crippling frigidity of New England and the Midwest during the winter, nor do we sweat out of our skins during the summer months. Our weather is like Baby Bear's porridge: not too hot, not too cold. Just right.
So there you have it. Hopefully I'm part of the gang now. Tear me to shreds in the comments, but just know that my comebacks will be funnier, smarter, and better-looking.