One guy is sedate in personality — buttoned down, by the book, morally if not financially secure, but socially inept. The other plays by his own rules, flouts convention and social norms. He is — or at least thinks so — charming and more successful with women.
One guy is tidy, conscientious and loves his routine. The other is a free-sprited risk taker. He drinks too much, smokes too much and rarely considers the consequences before he acts. This “odd couple” has been around since long before Neil Simon’s eponymous play. Now, Peep Show on Netflix gives it an original and sometimes cringe-inducing twist.
“Peep Show,” stars the comedy duo Mitchell & Webb (David Mitchell and Robert Webb from That Mitchell and Webb Look) as Mark Corrigan and Jeremy “Jez” Usborne, former college friends and roommates whose relationship has evolved into the classic love-hate “bromance.”
Mark is the product of a middle-class upbringing, who pursued a degree in business at his parents’ insistance instead of the one he wanted, history. He works as a loan manager for a large credit management company, owns a flat, and has a strong sense of propriety about procedures, laws and generally accepted social practices.
Jeremy is a self-centered, self-professed hedonist who shirks responsibility of any kind and spends most of his energy on pursuing women he’s infatuated with — whether they’re already in a relationship or not — or trying to smooth over his latest error in judgement.
He fancies himself a musician and is ostensibly in a band with his friend Super Hans, but mostly the two just do a lot of drugs together. He is more comfortable in social situations than Mark, and seemingly more in tune with the current zeitgeist. However, Jeremy isn’t particularly knowledgeable on any topic of discussion and tends to simply take the opposite view of whatever Mark believes under the automatic assumption that Mark’s views are never anything but stodgy and “sheep”-ish, and not at all what the cool kids are doing. Jez moves into Mark’s spare room, a few weeks prior to when the series begins, after having been kicked out by his girlfriend.
What sets this particular odd couple apart is that we get to see everything from their point of view — literally. The entire series is filmed using subjective camera techniques, while Mark’s and Jeremy’s interior monologues act as voice-over narration.
Peep Show on Netflix Keeps You Laughing
This is both hilarious and a bit frightening, often at the same time, especially once you get to know the characters and you have a pretty good sense of what’s coming. The writing for the show is excellent and fearless. There are no taboos or off limits subject matter. Nothing is bleeped, nothing is censored, and there is no situation — not even a funeral — that can’t be mined for comedy gold.
David Mitchell’s Mark is arguably the more sympathetic of the protagonists, being the one who is seemingly more stable and on a solid upward path in life. However, his obsessive self-awareness of his bad choices, of just how socially awkward he is, usually only exacerbates the situation and he ends up doing something very ill-advised. He also tends to explode at various times, usually when he is completely fed up or feels that he deserves the outcome he has been working very hard to achieve. When the series opens, he is infatuated with his work mate, Sophie, and competing for her attention with rival Jeff.
Robert Webb’s Jeremy is the perpetual man-child. He is completely unfettered and unfiltered, and very competitive with Mark. What makes him likable despite his egocentric attitude is that he is also a hopeless romantic. He so firmly believes in “happy ever after” and that his dreams will find a way to work out somehow that he is devastated, albeit not for long, when his plans fail or when there is some bit of “fine print” that he failed to notice.
Olivia Colman, a long-time member of Mitchell and Webb’s ensemble, is Mark’s main love interest, Sophie Chapman, for the first few series. Sophie starts off as the sort of garden variety white collar colleague, with similar interests and opinions as Mark. But after a move to Bristol, Sophie lets her inner Bohemian take over and starts to become more in tune with Jeremy’s thinking.
Matt King is Super Hans, Jeremy’s band mate and partner in crime — sometimes literally. Super Hans is the Keith Richards of the group. He has done every sort of drug, played every kind of music, and is very successful with women despite his greasy appearance that he may have slept in the gutter. Despite his dangerous choices and lifestyle, Hans never seems to suffer any permanently debilitating consequences.
Paterson Joseph is Alan Johnson — or, as the boys call him “Johnson.” He is Mark’s alpha-male boss who exudes confidence to the point that it causes Mark to briefly question his sexuality. Despite being a witness to many of Mark’s antics, Johnson seems to be fond of him and often puts him at the top of the list for promotional opportunities in his career. Neil Fitzmaurice is Mark’s archrival, Jeff. Jeff doesn’t really take Mark seriously as a rival for Sophie’s affections and often antagonizes Mark in an underhanded, schoolyard way. However, Jeff is also a very sensitive romantic partner.
The best thing about Peep Show on Netflix is that it’s a show that is very difficult to watch only one episode of. There is always some plot element of each that you can’t help but want to find out how it resolves. The subjective camera does take a bit of getting used to, but by the end of your first episode, you’ll be wondering why more shows aren’t done this way.