Peep Show is available on Netflix, all 48 episodes for free on Hulu, and on for 8-13 pounds on iTunes. Eight seasons are available on DVD in region 2/PAL. Season 1 is available on DVD in region 1/NTSC. Season 1 is rentable from Facets as discs.
After many years working together on stage and on TV, David Mitchell and Robert Webb decided to do a sitcom together. It would be called Point of View, the idea being that every shot would be the POV shot of one of the characters. This meant taking twice as long to film everything, as you can’t just count on one good take with a few different cameras shooting simultaneously: You need to reshoot the scene for as many characters as there are in the room. It is perhaps innovative in this way for a modern sitcom, but even more so for the internal monologues we hear. We are privy to the thoughts of the two main characters, Mark (Mitchell) and Jeremy (Webb). Every moment of doubt or sick thought that everybody has but no one will admit to, we hear it all. Mitchell, in his autobiography, Back Story, says he was horrified when the name of the show was changed to Peep Show.
Mark and Jeremy are flatmates. In many ways, they are polar opposites. Mark is career-oriented with an office job and the hopes of having a good future. He may not be that good at things, but he tries. He’s supremely awkward with the ladies and has a crush on his co-worker Sophie (Olivia Colman), as well as business-obsessed boss, Alan Johnson (Paterson Joseph) and the IT girl Dobby. Jeremy is a failed musician. He’s a bit more mainstream, into sex, drugs, and music, but not terribly good at any of them. He has little motivation beyond his music and sometimes not even in that. He spends most of his time trying to hook up with women–his next door neighbor Toni (often in front of her husband), hippie Nancy, old flame Big Suze, Elena, and Mark’s sister. Yet, Mark and Jeremy are alike in their insecurities and selfishnessess.
I desperately want to get into Peep Show. It always makes the short list of the British masses’ favorite modern sitcoms, and it stars some of my favorite people: Mitchell and Webb, Olivia Colman, and Paterson Joseph. But I find I’m struggling. It isn’t that it’s not funny or not clever or not well made. It’s just that with getting the most secret of thoughts of these people–part of the sitcom’s brilliance–it’s difficult to like any of them, apart from maybe Sophie who we don’t hear. On top of that, a lot of the jokes are about sex or poop, which just isn’t my type of humor. I do recognize the skill and innovation that went into it and that’s it’s a high quality show, but personally, it may not be my cup of tea.