Peep Show Review

Peep Show has been transmitted on Channel Four since 2003. I have just finished watching the entire canon. It became compulsive, though I am one of these people without a TV, so I never got into any water-fountain chat about it at the time. I am not even sure if anyone else has watched it, but never mind, here goes. I won't go into explanations about what it is and who the characters are; either you have seen it and know or have not seen it and don't care.
Is is like anything else?
Well, since the show revolves around a double act, but is also an ensemble piece, yes it is. The idea of two woefully aspirational people living together is as old as Tom and Jerry, or Laurel and Hardy or Morecambe and Wise or Blackadder and Baldrick or Withnail and I. It is a tried and tested formula. As for Blackadder, PS is nearer to this kind of comedy. You take a premise and test it to comic destruction. Nothing new there either, then. (Technically it uses a voice over internal monologue and a character POV camera. Once you get used to it, and you get used to it very quickly, it becomes invisible as a device.)
Why is it good?
In any piece of drama or prose, you have to care about the characters. Even if its the bad guy, you need to want him to get his just desserts. If it is the good guy, you want him to win the girl. Here is the twist; Mark and Jeremy are not good guys or bad guys, they are just blokes with bloke ambitions and bloke hobbies. The comedy is comedy of frustrated aspiration. They are in perpetual pursuit of women and it never works out. They either eschew jobs and careers - and get them, or pursue them desperately and get sacked. Women they don't fancy go after them and women they do fancy are unobtainable. There is also a lot of very vulgar humour, usually about wanking and oral sex and there is a lot of swearing. There is a farcical element and lots of props. Doors shatter, there is puke, poo and wee. An episode where Mark was ill ended with him sitting in a doorless loo being watched by several people. He had the squirts and people were remarking on the terrible smell. You have to have seen it. Embarrasment is a key feature of every show. There is a lot more and I have only scratched the surface. Peep Show is good because it fires on all cylinders for most of the time. There is a strength to the central relationship as strong as any double act.
A word about the cast.
Another strength of the show is the entire cast and the way they weave in and out of the plot. These people have a life outwith the show it seems, metacharacters you might say. Often they are talked about a lot, but do not appear. Big Suze was talked about for several episodes before you got to see her. Dobby is a sometime girlfriend/colleague of Mark, played by Isy Suttie, who also had a recent outing in Whites. Typical of the ensemble, Dobby is an eccentric, nay, Zany who is no one-dimensional stereotype, but who is clever at her job, droll and likeable. She is another who falls into the category of obscure object of desire.
But there is one character who cannot be missed. He has for me transcended the series and actually exists! Super Hans. He is the deux ex machina, and a mobile drug cabinet. In answer to the question, "Are you tripping?" he replies: "The shit I'm seeing, I fucking well hope so! You couldn't get me any glue, could you? Take the edge off"
Drama and comedy occasionally gives birth to a metacharacter. Gene Hunt is one. Richard Blaine is one. There is Del Boy, Edmund Blackadder, A raft of Python characters, Danny the Hippie is another and in some ways like Super Hans, who is most certainly one. Here he is in a short clip, doing a typically Super Hans thing:

Peep Show.

Why do I like it? I like it because it takes aspects of the bloke condition and makes fun of us. We know there is truth in it and we know we act like dicks, and we have the honesty to admit it and we can sit back and laugh at Mark and Jeremy and in doing so, ourselves.

5 comments:

Brian said...

Indeed Super Hans is a great character - transferred into Whites as Melvin the meat dealer. He's the Danny the drug dealer of the 21st century.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Brian, I enjoyed reading your blog. Would you kindly email me - it's in my profile.

Ruth@VS said...

I am forced to watch Peep Show by my Other Half, but I do enjoy it despite it being very blokey humour. Sometimes though it gives way too much insight into how a man's mind works....

Wrinkled Weasel said...

You are not wrong there Ruth. It tends to give away the tricks of the trade.

Jim said...

Love Peep Show. Tonight was classic.
Won't spoil it for you as it brings everything together ( Mark and Jeremy have a shower together in Hans's girlfriends flat).
Dobby didn't show tonight. She's gorgeous. I'm sure I saw her singing on a tv show the other night .