Now, if there’s one thing British comedy is good at, it’s making you wince. Peep Show is as proficient as The Office was for making you clench downstairs, mainly because you find yourself in the dialogue.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And even if it is broke, just ignore it and maybe it’ll be sort of okay. Like the environment.” — Mark
The character interactions appear to be beautifully crafted. I’m not so sure: I think they’re just real.
The camera direction gives the whole experience a very close, personal feeling. Add some superb character acting from Mitchell & Webb—and, of course, Matt King as Superhans—and you’ve got something really quite special.
I am Mark Corrigan
A few years ago I was genuinely worried I would fully turn into Mark. The obsession with history, the awkwardness around women, the general social ineptitude. It all started to add up.
“Just gotta say the right words – can think about what they mean later.” — Mark
Mark displays an amount of worry and self awareness that I assume everyone has but hides much better than I do. I dunno, maybe I’m mental. Though that strikes me as the sort of thing Mark thinks.
Things turned around, though, and I am now the well-rounded individual you see here today. Cough.
They’re all ridiculous and yet somehow believable. Mark’s disasterous years with Sophie. Jez’s heartbreaking, hilarious short time with Elena. The boys’ relationship, as well, is probably the most painful.
I am Jez
But not in the blase attitude to sex, money, drugs and, well, everything; but in the clangers and frequent painful self realisations. Which are never, ever pretty.
Probably the best thing about Peep Show is the portrayal of these two huge fuck-ups, Mark and Jez, and their complex relationship.
Constantly at each other’s necks: Mark’s futile attempts to collect rent, Jez’s futile attempts to justify his existence. There’s a careful equilibrium between them. But together, they just about make one normal person. They’re brothers.
Peep Show is currently airing its seventh series on Channel 4. You can watch most of the previous series online on 4OD and SeeSaw, if you live in the United Kingdom. A seven disc DVD box-set is scheduled to be released at the end of the year, which I thoroughly recommend everyone to grab. It’s a comedy classic, and should sit proudly alongside your Blackadder, Jeeves & Wooster and Futurama collections.
Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain have created something quite wonderful in Peep Show, which is no surprise given their pedigree and further successes. Armstrong has since helped to write The Thick of It, and the pair also worked on the recent Four Lions with Chris Morris.