(Video at bottom of post)
With this post I aim to take part in the #2 most popular pastime of all time**: telling other people what to do. Not in an “If you don’t do this, you will burn in hell” kinda way, but in a “You really should give this a try; it’s really rather spiffing” way. (For those of you who you haven’t realised, this is the approach adopted by the English after our empire crumbled and we realised we were no longer the boss of, well, anyone.)
Today I want to expel to you the virtues of a great British television show: Peep Show. The British broadcaster responsible for airing the show, Channel 4, provides a very succinct synopsis on their website:
Award-winning sitcom. David Mitchell and Robert Webb play two dysfunctional flatmates who reveal all their inner thoughts – whether dark, stupid or embarrassing. Or, occasionally, all three…
For a Peep Show virgin, this brief insight into the world of the show doesn’t reveal just how good the writing and acting is, nor the USP of the show, so if you have never watched, listen up.
The format of the show is one of its greatest strengths; we experience almost everything from the two main characters’ points of view and are privy to their inner monologues as voiceovers. Not only does this delineate the show from other sitcoms, but it allows the audience to climb into the two guys’ minds and be alternately amused and disturbed, as you recognise thoughts and reactions you have daily, but like the main characters, do not share with other people, less they think you slightly imbalanced. (The parenthesis in the quotes in this post indicate the line is heard as part of their inner monologue, not expressed to another character.)
Mark: (I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? She could say no. Actually, that would be terrible. It would destroy me if she said no.)
We follow them as they lurch from social disaster to social catastrophe, always managing to screw things up in their awkward, failing manner. It’s not done in the American, FRIENDS-esq style of “oh look at how cute and kooky we are, will we ever figure out this whole life thing?” *dazzling smile*; it’s the British “Christ no, don’t do it. Bloody hell he did it… This will not end well” approach. And it’s genius.
Not only are Mark (uptight and paranoid) and Jez (aimless, wannabe musician) brilliant characters, but the supporting characters are a class act, the best of which is Super Hans, played by Matt King (pictured below).
He is Jeremy’s friend, partner in crime (and occasional nemesis) who regularly rankles Marks, takes various drugs and frequently develops insane “good ideas”. A select few includes: bringing a rent-a-snake to a party, developing an addiction to crack cocaine, joining a cult and advocating to name a pub ‘Free the Paedos’. Brilliant quotes include:
“Tell you what, that crack is really moreish.”
“Just get a van. With a van, it’s like you’ve got an MBA, but you’ve also got a fucking van! You’re not just a man any more, you are a man with a van. We could be men with ven.”
“It’s a pisser, though, innit? Cancer. They should a find a fucking cure.”
Scarily, this character was nearly played by Russell Brand… what an awful job that idiot would’ve made of it.
Jez: There’s only so much happiness in the world and they’re hoarding it all!
Mark: That’s not how happiness works! (It completely is.)
If the rankings on IMDb mean anything to you and guide your television or film choices, you’ll be interested to know that Peep Show rates a very respectable 8.5 out of 10.
Despite a vocal, avid fan base this sitcom has never achieved full main-stream status in Britain; most TV peeps think this is down to the point of view formatting of the show. If this is the case, then I think it’s all the better for remaining a beloved cult programme; those who enjoy the sharp and astute script and fantastic acting can rightly claim that those who don’t like it are talking out of their arse.
I could easily just fill this post with my favourite quotes, but I won’t, instead I will again underline its brilliance, urge you to watch it and share this video with you:
**The #1 pastime of all time is sleeping. Humans have recognised that lack of sleep can affect their abilities to tell other people what to do, so have willing sacrified a portion of each day to ensure their power of dictation stays sharp.