Peep show is an extremely funny comedy show, which came to Channel 4 earlier this year. Its form is basically that of a sitcom, but has a slight twist: as well as seeing things from an observer’s point of view, the audience also get to see things from the viewpoint of the two main characters, Mark and Jeremy. The best part is that while we are seeing things as Mark and Jeremy would, we also get to hear their inner monologues.
Mark and Jeremy are flatmates who don’t like each other, but manage to get along somehow. Mark works in an office, and spends his time pursuing a co-worker called Sophie, who is patently not interested in him, but is too kind to tell Mark to his face. Jeremy dreams of getting into the music world, but is far too lazy, and spends his time creating appallingly bad techno tracks in his bedroom. His love interest is their neighbour, who is pretty much insane. Each character is inherently sad in his own way, but most people will probably see something of themselves in one or the other (or both), which is one of the things that makes the show so good.
In a typical episode, we follow each character round while they go about their day-to-day business. Mainly, this involves Mark making a fool of himself in front of Sophie, and Jeremy trying, and failing, to impress his next door neighbour with his music. As it stands, this doesn’t make for a very funny programme. That is, until we start to hear what the characters are thinking to themselves. Both men are self-doubting, dysfunctional, and spend most of their time trying to convince themselves that they’re not actually as sad as they appear, i.e. they’re like all of us are, at some time or another (if you’re not ever like this, and you’re not on drugs, please /msg me and tell me how you manage it). Mark tells himself that he will manage to get a date with Sophie, and worries about his abnormally sized testicles; Jeremy tells himself that his music is good, and both assure themselves often that this was a good idea. There is no possible way that this was not a good idea. Of course, invariably, it’s a terrible idea, be it urinating on a senior colleague’s papers (Mark), or telling an established musician that his material is boring in order to be noticed (Jeremy).
Mark and Jeremy are played by David Mitchell and Robert Webb respectively, who both come from Cambridge Footlights stock. The programme is written by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain (the team behind Channel 4’s Smack the Pony). The first (and so far only) series was first aired in September 2003, and has already been repeated once (at time of writing, it’s Christmas Day 2003 – yes I know I’m sad).
If you do get the opportunity to watch it, give it a bit of a chance. It’s much like The Office (another hilarious sitcom, this time on BBC2) in that you may not appreciate it at first viewing, simply because it’s so weird. Watch a couple of episodes, and then decide. Also, please tell me I’m not alone in thinking that David Mitchell’s eyes are impossibly large and black, so I know I’m not going quietly mad. Thanks.