By Richard Reitzfeld
It’s no secret that a good amount of highly successfully (and not so successful) American TV shows are and have been actually hijacked premises (or sometimes scene-for-scene remakes) of British shows of the same name.
Most notably, The Office and Shameless come to mind when talking about a successful remake, and for me personally, the flaming atrocity that was Skins US when talking about a failure. Skins UK is incredible by the way. More to come on that later.
But, amidst the mass of dry, offbeat comedy-dramas that Britain seems to pump out on an almost seasonal basis, there still exist some absolute gems that, for whatever reason, have yet to mainstream themselves across the pond. Does that expression work the other way around? Peep Show is one such.
And before I begin, Peep Show is accessible in almost its entirety on Netflix US, so if this article piques your interest, I urge you to give it a shot. Peep Show follows the lives of two men, Mark and Jeremy (AKA Jez), who live in South London. The show spans eight series at this point, and follows the two from their twenties into their thirties. That’s pretty much the entire premise. Sounds riveting, right?
As Mark and Jez fumble their way through life, dealing with employment, or lack thereof, sex, love, drugs, and a myriad of other situations, we get a glimpse into the innermost chasms of their minds, and lord almighty, does a lot of it look familiar.
Peep Show‘s brilliance – aside from general par excellence in terms of non-main character scripting (Super Hans is incredible) – lies in the inner monologues of our two main characters. As they traverse each situation, we are privy to their innermost feelings, anxieties, twisted thoughts, and fleeting moments of joy, as told by their absolutely no bullshit thought processes.
Mark, a “working stiff” of sorts, is crippled by anxiety, hates his job, and is generally an uptight coward who is overcome by moments of intense relative bravery from time to time. Jez is an unemployed “musician” who doesn’t much care about the feelings of others, and will more or less consider any means of achieving his goals, no matter how depraved.
And we, the viewers, are the audience of this Peep Show, as we peer into the minds of two commonplace men dealing with the ordeals of everyday life. And I liken Peep Show to taking a good, hard look in the mirror, because the situations that Mark and Jez encounter are entirely realistic and their thoughts in dealing with them are unapologetically universal on certain levels.
The fact of the matter is, no matter how we’d like to be perceived, for the vast majority of people, if someone was to peep behind the curtains of our minds, they’d find hilarity in much of our pitiful thoughts and impressions, depravity, and general bizarreness lurking hidden. Many of the laughs you’ll get from watching Peep Show are of the “Oh shit, I’ve definitely thought like that before” variety.
I dare you to watch Peep Show and not find some element of yourself in the thoughts of Mark and Jez.