The other night I was watching one of my favorite shows, Louie, on Hulu.com, and one of those annoying messages popped up. You know, the ones that use the name from your account to try and make it look like a personal message. Like "Hey darthvader69, Do you need affordable car insurance?" or they just use the first part of the name "Hi darth, Would you like to meet single women in _________ (enter your area here)?" Well, this time a recommendation popped up suggesting that if I liked Louie, I might like Peep Show. I had never heard of it, but Ricky Gervais said it was the show he was most excited to watch, so it had to be good right?
Peep Show is the next Brittish show that will be better than the American rip off whenever they get around to making it. Peep Show was a critically acclaimed show with low ratings that DVD sales saved (Family Guy anyone?). Peep Show follows the lives of two schmoes named Mark and Jeremy. It uses POV angles and voiceovers of what the characters are thinking. Mark is a modern day Candide who is four times more neurotic than Woody Allen, which is not surprising because the voiceover concept on Peep show was inspired by the subtitles in Annie Hall used to express the characters real thoughts. Jeremy is the lovable bumbling idiot, but he does some pretty horrible things. Think a drug addled, perverted Kramer. The two live a Ziggy-like existence in their crappy apartment, never winning as they wander through a confusing world, both supporting and sabotaging each other as they try to find love and happiness.
Peep Show manages to be very dark and yet reassuring at the same time. Not an easy tight rope to walk. Mark is an everyman, with the worries and insecurities that we all have. At one point he finally gets a girlfriend, and he sits in a coffee shop with her thinking to himself: "Look at me! I'm finally a normal person! With a girlfriend and the newspaper and drinking coffee. Nobody can deny that!" Jeremy is a Nigel Tufnel-like character (Spinal Tap is one of the many cool pop culture references on the show) who you forgive for his id-driven behavior because it's not your job to be as confused as him. It is of course a buddy show at heart, but you cringe and laugh at them more than laughing with them. There are no happy endings, but they're always amusing.
The show completely won me over when, in one episode, Jeremy and his friend Super Hans (any show with a character named Super Hans has to be good) are discussing whether to only serve heavy, organic beer at the pub they have been given to run by a mentally unstable woman.
Jeremy: "We should have lager. And nuts."
Super Hans: "No."
Jeremy: "But people like lager and nuts."
Super Hans: "People like Coldplay and voting for Nazis. They're not to be trusted."
The shaky POV gimmick gets a little old, and fortunately they used it less and less in later seasons. The inner dialogues continue to be hilarious, and the show is intelligent and fast paced. It's refreshing to see normal looking people living in a normal, crummy apartment having regular problems. Peep Show is the polar opposite of Friends. If you like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Louie, and The League (all great F/X Network shows) then you'll probably like Peep Show too. If nothing else you'll learn some funny Brittish slang.
The first 6 seasons of Peep Show are available for free here. The 7th season starts on November 26th on BBC 4.