'Peep Show' is a British sitcom written by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, starring comedy duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb, who work alongside each other in different projects in a similar fashion to other British comedy duos such as Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The show follows two men who share a flat together, Mark Corrigan (Mitchell) and Jeremy Osbourne (Webb).
The shows comedy is very dark and cringeworthy and contains themes regarding sex and drugs so it's definitely not for kids but its a very guilty pleasure for everybody else. What sets this apart from similar awkward situation comedies is that the show is constantly shot from the characters' point of view, whether it be the two main characters or supporting characters and we can hear Mark and Jez' thoughts. This is a truly brilliant innovation and lifts this high above most other sitcoms, especially as the two leads are highly insecure and conniving, a lot of the time they say things only for you to hear their conflicting true thoughts and its absolutely hilarious, they often talk themselves into bizarre and embarrassing situations.
Mark and Jez seem very different but they fit together well. Mark is a semi-successful, middle-class loan manager who owns the flat he lives in with Jeremy, while he seems sensible and cautious on the outside he is actually quite impulsive and occasionally talks himself into erratic behaviour he later regrets. He is highly neurotic and worries about anything, even socialising with other humans which doesn't come easily to him, he researches subjects he has no interest in just to fit in with the crowd and endures activities others enjoy. Strangely though you can identify with him and feel sorry for him, he is essentially a good person but often makes stupid mistakes in an effort to make himself look 'normal'.
Jez on the other hand is far more out-going and sexually promiscuous, unemployed throughout most of the series he claims to be 'in the music industry' although his band is going nowhere and he appears to be deluded into thinking fame and fortune is waiting to come to him without him making any effort. He is Mark's only real friend but is often spiteful and malicious and seems to be constantly holding Mark back, the reason for this however seems to be Jez' fear of losing Mark rather than him actually disliking him, when things are at their lowest he always sticks by Mark and the selfishness disappears showing he isn't a completely nasty character. Jez is also a recreational drug user and is often seen hungover or on a 'downer', there are indications to Jez having bisexual tendencies as well although he often represses those feelings.
The first series starts with Mark and Jez both single with Jez having just ended a longterm relationship with his girlfriend Big Suze to move in with his old pal Mark. While Mark pursues work colleague Sophie Chapman (Olivia Colman) somewhat obsessively, Jez begins seeing an attractive American with a hippy attitude, Nancy (Rachel Blanchard).
The supporting cast in Peep Show are as strong as the leads, in particular Jez' friend and bandmate Super Hans (Matt King), a walking chemistry set who never met a pill he didn't pop or a pipe he didn't toke, every sentence that leaves Super Hans' mouth is an instant classic quote, a lesser show would miss such a great character but this doesn't due to its high quality and leaves him on the sidelines to great effect. Paterson Joseph plays Mark's boss Alan Johnson, supremely confident he comes across as the black James Bond, cool, calm and collected at all times. Finally Neil Fitzmaurice plays Jeff Heaney, Mark's nemesis and love rival to Sophie, he is a bully who torments Mark with sarcastic comments to put him down in front of others. Other minor characters come and go but these three really add a lot to the show.
Over the course of the six series, nothing really gets any better for Mark and Jez and they are destined to spend the rest of their life together wallowing in mediocrity, stumbling from one excruciating situation to the next. Quite how this truly great masterpiece of a sitcom hasn't caught on is beyond me, perhaps due to its much darker theme than shows like The Office and the fact its been shifted to a late slot on Channel 4 it's been overlooked and while that's criminal it just means those of us who do know about it can enjoy it all the more, because it's our little secret. For me its the best sitcom of the last decade and that's saying something.
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