I want to make clear that I’m not an Anglophile. I enjoy the H2G2 and a few episodes of Dr. Who, plus a few movies like Snatch and Quest for the Holy Grail, but otherwise, I’m not overly familiar with British pop culture. It has to break into mainstream pop culture for it to come onto my radar.
Or randomly pop into my VOD suggestions while I’m incredibly bored and have nothing better to watch.
So it was in that setting that I watched Peep Show. To be fair, it didn’t really impress me right off the bat. It was kind of weird and only amusing, not really funny, but once or twice an episode, someone would say something hysterical and unexpected. However, I stuck with it and by the third or fourth episode, I was sold. The actors and writers had clearly found their pace, and the episodes kept getting more and more funny as they went along.
The show follows the lives of two “flatmates” somewhere in England, probably London. The owner of the apartment, Mark, is the normal insecure office type, while his roommate, Jeremy, smokes weed, likes to chase women and is kind of dumb in an innocently charming way. Both are pretty dysfunctional. We know this because the show often switches to POV shots and relies heavily on the internal monologue of characters.
Peep Show is a British sitcom starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb. The television programme is written by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, with additional material by Mitchell and Webb amongst others. It has been broadcast on Channel 4 since 2003
Having the inner thoughts of the character known makes for an interesting and intelligent kind of humor. It makes Mark and Jeremy relatable, because often you find they think the same weird things the audience thinks. Or at least it’s what I would think were I in the same situation. So I may just be weird.
Some of the jokes seem to require a working knowledge of British culture, and since I’m American (and therefore completely disregard all other cultures around the world as inferior to my own), I know I’m missing out on some funny stuff. However, it surprised me how many American jokes there are in the show, and made me realize Brits are definitely more cosmopolitan than their colonial brethren.
Another thing that might take some work is the British accent and slang. It’s not terrible, mind you. I understand most of the main characters most of the time. However, every so often it’ll get you. It took me ages to figure out that one of the characters names was Super Hans, because I expect Hans to be pronounced like the German, whereas in Britain, they seem to pronounce it like “hands”, but without the “d” sound in it. They also completely forget the “er” at the end of Super. So it sounded a lot like they were calling him Soup Hands. And speaking of Soup Hands, his accent is terrible.
I understand like one in three words he says. It makes it kind of funny though, so I don’t really mind.
Twice now this show has tried to come to our golden shores, once by Fox and once by Spike. Both times it fell through. I don’t think it’s going to happen. Even in it’s homeland, the ratings are pretty dismal. The creators of the show think it’s because of the POV camera angle turning people off, but I disagree. I think it’s the season lengths.
There are seven seasons, but each season is only six half-hour episodes. You can’t have a proper season with less than three hours of episodes. I’ve watched movies that were longer. It’s easy to miss a show when there’s only six of them. Lengthen the seasons, and they might find a little more success.
Quibbles about the series length aside, you really need to check this show out. Find it however you can, and give it a try. Season 8 is in production, so you have plenty of time to catch up on the series. It’s definitely worth giving it a look.