One of my favorite televisions shows of all time is Peep Show, easily one of the most unique comedies ever filmed, in that the show is shot entirely from the perspectives of either Mark or Jeremy (Jez), two "odd couple" roommates who are both social misfits in their own spectacularly bizarre ways. I have to thank my former roommate Liz for bringing this gem into my life. I had given it a shot years prior and hated the only half-episode I watched, but then I gave it a second chance when she raved about it, and it quickly became our most quotable show. The five episodes I chose as my favorites, to my surprise, are almost all from seventh series (for those unaware, in the UK shows come out in a series, not a season), but just because 4/5 occur in that one series, I assure you that each year's offerings have stunningly hilarious moments, arcs, and characters that make every series worth watching. But these five are my absolute favorites and perhaps you'll like them as well.
5. St Hospitals (Series 7, Ep 1)
In this series opener, Sophie is about to have Mark's baby, and Mark couldn't be any less happy about the situation, although he feels compelled to assist in drips and drabs out of guilt and his deep-seated urge to socially conform. But of course his efforts to satisfy Sophie's ever-changing demands go awry, to the point where he gives up, wanders off, and finds himself in a video arcade and later eating fried chicken "from a bucket like a human horse" before wandering back to the hospital for his son's birth.
Jez is also at the hospital and has fallen in love yet again, this time with an unconscious man's girlfriend (Zahra). He attempts to work the situation into his favor, faking an interest in literature and social issues to make himself seem more appealing than the unconscious man she is doting upon. He even contemplates hiding the fact that the unconscious boyfriend is slowly coming around, but is unable to keep the truth under wraps.
The highlight of the episode is Mark's confession that he's a "pedophobe" and has always been uncomfortable around children, which Jez mistakenly hears as a confession that Mark is a "pedophile" and replies "yeah, I've always wondered," to Mark's insulted shock. This casual acceptance of Mark's non-confession and their mutual realization at the mistake is absolutely hilarious, though they both quickly try to move on from the moment. If jokes about pedophilia cross a comedic line with you, strap in because this show goes down some darkly ridiculous roads that American shows usually steer clear of.
4. Jeremy's Mummy (Series 5, Ep 4)
Jez and Mark are fighting over the sorry state of Jez's finances, as usual, until Jez discovers he is about to inherit a windfall of money from his dead aunt, thousands of dollars in fact, which prompts Jez to begin referring to himself as a "millionaire." But as it turns out, his cut after taxes are considered is a paltry amount, infuriating Jez. But the true hilarity of the episode stems from their discovery of a gun in his aunt's possessions, which Jez insists on keeping against Mark's wishes. But Mark slowly comes around to the idea that keeping "Gunny," as they name it, is a good idea. In fact, he becomes just as enthralled by the gun, and their continued reference to Gunny as the solution to this or that problem makes for some incredibly quotable lines, such as when Jez walks in on Mark examining the gun alone. "Oh, hi Jez. I was just...you know, making sure it was safe. Gunny the gun."
Oh, and that's right, Mark gets raped by a lesbian. How can we forget that? He wakes up to find Mark's step-father's daughter her on top of him, and says he was forced to gave an orgasm against his will, leading to some intensely bombastic conversations later in the episode when he confesses to Jez and Super Hans, who tell him it wasn't a "bum rape" so it wasn't really rape at all. Yeah, see? Not exactly fodder for your typical American sit-com, is it? But in Peep Show, it works somehow.
3. A Beautiful Mind (Series 7, Ep 3)
If you owned a dildo, what would you name it? In this episode, we discover Mark not only owns one (in an effort to spice things up with his sorta-girlfriend Dobby) but it is so awkward for him to look at that he has to name it to humanize it. As he says, "I find it quite intimidating as a man. It's like a leg of lamb. So, I've decided to call it Kenneth. Meet my sexual associate, Kenneth." Good lord how I die every time they reference Kenneth throughout the ep. And I have yet to meet a Kenneth in the real world without thinking about Mark's secret dildo. Thanks, Peep Show!
Jez, for his part, loves the idea that Mark has Kenneth around, and often lobbies to have him break it out for the fun of it. He is also still trying to impress Zahra and agrees to host her book club for the night, except all he has ever read was Mr. Nice and he has no ability to get through even the first few pages of Wuthering Heights. Mark thinks this impending disaster is deserved for Jez trying to steal another man's girlfriend, but when Zahra's boyfriend shows up and comes across like the pompous ass that he is, Mark takes pity and schools them all on the intricate themes and meanings within the book, saving the night for Jez and feeding his own sense of superiority.
The gem of the episode, however, is Super Hans (Jez's drug-addled friend) insisting that he is quitting crack, leading to the most quotable Jez line ever, "Aww, but you love crack. It's your favorite." Hans gives Mark all his crack and makes him promise to never give it back, even if Hans comes to the door begging for it, or threatens to hit Mark...with wood. Of course, Hans returns later with a 2x4 of wood, saying only, "Crack." Mark, without missing a beat, hands it over and shuts the door. Brilliant.
2. Season's Beatings (Series 7, Ep 5)
Ah, and now we've come to the Christmas episode, where all of Mark's worst traits come to the forefront in a chaotic holiday dinner party he is throwing for his family. Jez is in attendance of course, along with a surprise visit from Super Hans, and later Mark's girlfriend Dobby stops by because she has nowhere else to go. Mark is so stressed out about the dinner that when Jez says he forgot to buy the turkey, he explodes in a torrent of rage at Jez's idiocy. To which Jez calmly (in awe of the awkward moment) explains it was a joke, a simple holiday joke. Mark apologizes, but Jez informs him he's not being very "Chrstmassy," an understatement for sure, as Mark even goes so far as to pretend Dobby is just a platonic friend in front of his boorish father because he is embarrassed by how odd and nonconformist she is. Mark is eventually pressured to admit they are dating, but when Dobby corrects Mark's father on a point, he tells Mark to shut her up. When Mark doesn't defend her, Dobby essentially breaks up with him in front of everyone and leaves. Good for Dobby, and boo on Mark.
And Jez, of course, finds himself romantically entangled with Mark's sister yet again. Though Jez is upset that he has become just a "horny Christmas elf" and is about to give in, he is able to resist, citing the importance of Christmas over sex...at least on that one day. Mark's mother, however, gets drunk and begins making passes at Super Hans, to Mark's horror.
Perhaps the best part of the show is how child-like and joyful Jez is about Christmas, contrasting against Mark's pragmatic and dour take on the holiday. When they exchange gifts, Jez insists on doing so by crawling into Mark's bed early in the morning. Mark complains, saying, "What if our feet touch?" "Well then we fuck, of course," Jez sarcastically snaps back, a dig at Mark's absurd whining and sexual repression. Sadly, all of Mark's gifts for the ecstatic Jez are boring household items or things Mark admits he got for free on business trips, while Jez bought Mark thoughtful and meaningful gifts in return. It's a cute but pitiful moment, showing how much Jez actually cares for Mark beneath all his absurd slacker habits and greedy posturing. Jez, for once, comes across as the more dependable, sweet, and honest of the two.
1. Nether Zone (Series 7, Ep 4)
My absolute favorite. This one highlights the greatest strength of the entire show--pitting the absurdly opposite Mark and Jez and all of their contrasting characteristics against one another in a surreal face-off as they find themselves trapped in the lobby, or the "nether zone," between Zahra's second-floor apartment door and her building's jammed front door. Mark immediately panics, of course, and he contemplates jumping from the second story window into a back alley, even if it means badly injuring himself, while Jez is far too relaxed and suggests they simply wait and play games to "get to know each other," with both reactions as inappropriate as they are revealing about their personalities.
As their attempts to call for help fail, they are forced to spend the afternoon there alone with a dying cell phone, no keys, and no way out. Their confrontations become more and more bizarre, from their attempt to break back into Zahra's apartment with a credit card ("That's a debit card," Mark sneers in reply) to their desperate discovery of a weird metal "bit" beneath the stairs that they think might help them get out (it doesn't), to Jez using his last distress call to order pizza, which arrives after Jez has urinated through the brush-covered postal slot in the front door. The only way to get the pizza inside is to slide each slice through the same brush-covered front slot, which of course is now laced with Jez's pee. This doesn't bother Jez but certainly disgusts Mark, for obvious reasons.
They are eventually saved by Zahra, but her boyfriend also arrives and the two are forced to hide in her shower, where they are discovered. They concoct a lie that they are gay lovers and they use Zahra's apartment as a secret meeting spot, which Ben, the boyfriend, only partially believes, pointing out that Jez is wearing Ben's pants. Jez says he pretends to be Ben when making love to Mark, as a kink. Mark, having heard enough, jumps out the second story window anyway. Mark later finds he has missed his son's christening, and his child has been named Ian James, against his specific wishes. That's just the way it goes for the ever-hapless Mark and Jez. It remains my gold standard episode.