There are a lot of great British TV shows that we never hear about here in the States, but every now and then something builds a big enough following that you suddenly start hearing all your friends talk about it. Or it gets so big in the UK that some American network snaps it up and remakes it Stateside, apparently out of fear that us Yanks will go mad at the sound of a funny accent. Neither of these particular fates has befallen the diabolically hysterical Peep Show.
Sure, it has a minor following over here, but it hasn’t erupted as a topic of conversation the same way shows like Being Human or Sherlock have. Fox actually tried to remake it back in 2005, but apparently their attempt to change the whole dynamic of the show rendered it an unfunny mess. Strange how removing part of a formula causes the formula to stop working.
But nevermind that. I’m glad it was never remade and I’m glad that most people have never seen it, because now I get to gleefully point you toward Hulu, where you can watch all seven seasons of this brilliant bit of comedy for free with just a click of the mouse.
What’s It About: Mark, a history nerd/office drone, and Jeremy, a party-going moron, are two roommates who don’t really have anything in common but who are close friends out of their staggering inability to develop meaningful relationships with anybody else. Peep Show is simply about their hilariously inept lives, the trick here being that we often get a POV peep into their mind to see what they’re looking at and hear what exactly they’re thinking about. It sounds like a gimmick, but it’s actually a very clever way to let the audience be a fly on the wall of their brains.
Why You Should Watch It: Peep Show is genius. Yes, a show about two lovable losers and their misadventures in their mundane, pointless lives is genius. Why? Because it actually has the balls to realistically show how miserable and selfish people secretly are. No one’s mind is filled with lovely thoughts of rainbows and gumdrops. We’re constantly wondering what we look like, what other people are thinking about us, how our actions are going to be interpreted, how we’re going to salvage the train wreck waiting to happen that is the human thought process.
The sheer magnitude of Mark’s self-loathing combined with the breadth of Jeremy’s ignorance is just hysterical. Then of course we get into the side characters, like Jeremy’s drugged out friend Super Hans, or Sophie, the totally ordinary love of Mark’s life, and you’ve got a perfect storm of situational comedy about to happen. It’s got the bracingly honest approach to blue collar character work that you’ll find in the original The Office or Louis C.K.’s new F/X show, Louis, with the added dynamic that we get to hear the inner monologue.
And that inner monologue just gets better and better as the show goes on. Even if the first episode doesn’t grab you, trust me and stick with it. Once you get a feel for the characters, it all comes together beautifully and each episode becomes richer and richer. Oh, and don’t let the whole “all seven seasons” thing intimidate you. Unlike here, British seasons aren’t massive 24-episode affairs. They’re usually around six episodes or so, which is great because it only means that there’s no reason to stretch out the good stuff just to pad the episode count.