Peep Show Series 1: Having Fun With the Olives

Dear CF,

You’re so right about the haziness of the impression PS leaves behind. Maybe it’s because it’s so conversational—things aren’t punctuated even as much as they are in the BBC Office, which gives Brent the Talking Head moments to really showcase his one-liners. Here, though, it’s sort of a delicious stream-of-consciousness sequence in which one delightful discomfort quickly displaces the one that came before. You’re enjoying Mark’s fantasy of crushing the small scary boys outside (why, incidentally, do they call him Clean Shirt?) when BOOM! you’re on the floor looking up into Toni’s face, disfigured with rage over her failure to get Alpen. Next thing you know, you’re watching her eat, her forehead shiny and enlarged, and somewhere, a poo retreats.

I share most of your favorite moments, and thought a few were worth reproducing here.

Mark Moments:

  • “I am the lord of the bus, said he!”
  • “Where is she? Knickers, she’s not on here.”
  • “Of course, she’s giving you the book-off. People don’t want your hands on their bottoms, Mark.”
  • “I don’t want to go to Weight Pros. I want a fuckbuddy.”
  • “The longbow beats the crossbow, my idiotic friend.”
  • “I wonder what kind of socks Sophie wears. Do women wear socks? Well, yes, sometimes, that’s the answer to that. Socks before or after trousers, but never socks before pants. That’s the rule. Makes a man look scary, like a chicken.”
  • “People like him should wear stickers! They’ve got them for their cars. Oh yeah, great idea, Adolf.”
  • (Aloud): “Later, potat-er.” Potat-er. What have I become?
  • “Okay, pen, let’s flirt with Sophie. … Come on. Go crazy. You’re hungry, like the wolf!”

Super Hans Moment:

  • “Oh, so Mr. Fucking Ocean-Color Pants doesn’t get it. Quel fucking surprise.”

Jeremy Moments:

  • “I’m a dirty hobbit and she’s a sexy elf. So she might be “Oh, you dirty hobbit, take off my bodkin and my jerkin. Oh yeah, sexy ears. … Yeah, yield to me, hobbit-slayer. You will touch my magic cock.”
  • “Oh Toni, I feel incredibly tired. Let’s just both lie down on your bed. I hope she gets out the bong, not the fucking cafettiere.” (Next scene: her with the cafettiere.)
  • “Well, yeah, I mean it’s first pressing. Or do you want to wait until everyone else has had their fun with the olives? Fourth pressing. Yeah, like that’s gonna be a party in your mouth, I don’t think.”

Great Exchange #1:

  • Jez: “How thick is wall?”
    Mark: “Depends.”
    (Pause.)
    Mark: “So. What Starbucks does she go to?”

The grocery list, which I must reproduce in full:

  • “I’m making chicken tikka. Plus, I bought us loads of great stuff. Dune on DVD, Bakewell slices, gin, and Sara Lee.”
  • Mark’s optimism is so touching here, and his disappointment when he says the following is an instance, I think, of your point that their delivery is sometimes nothing short of brilliant:

  • “Oh, right. I see. I get it. You were lampooning me. It was a simple lampoon.”

Great Exchange #2

  • Jez: “You’re a posh spaz.”
    Mark (overenunciating): “Oh, really? Well, I’d love to know in what way am I a posh spaz?
    Jez: “In the way you’re always doing posh spazzy things like tidying up and ironing your socks.”
    Mark (outraged): “I do not iron my socks!”
    Jez (cocking his head): “Socks, shirts. Whatever!”

Scenes:

  • The bathtub conversation—yes. Why did we never do this?
  • Mark’s delight in his toast routine, and how he’s actually pulling a fast one because he happens to love wheat toast.
  • Jez idly stabbing at the toaster with a knife while Mark’s telling him about a job opportunity.

Pyramid-Selling Great Exchanges:

  • Toni: “I mean does that look like a pyramid to you? Clearly it’s not a pyramid, it’s a pie.”
    Jez: “It’s like a big lovely club with free money for everyone. I mean it sounds great, but—”
    Toni (schoolmarmishly): “Free money for everyone, ha. Look out the window, Jeremy. That’s never gonna happen, not in this old world. No. See, the early birds are going to find their bird table covered with money pie.”
    Jez, after a pause: “Right.”
    Toni: “But the Johnny and Sally-come-latelies, they’ll get a slice of the pie, but then they look closer, and oh dear, it’s only pastry. Boohoo, Johnny and Sally! Are you with me?”
  • Later, Jez in the bathtub, Mark sitting on toilet:

  • Jez: “Are you trying to piss on my bonfire?”
    Mark: “I’m trying to protect you from pissing all over yourself.
    Jez: “I’m not about to piss all over myself. I’m pissing into the—big time.”
    Mark: “You’re still coming to the interview.”
    Jez: “Yeah, well, I thought–”
    Mark: “Listen, Jeremy. You don’t seem to understand. Nothing you want is ever going to happen. That’s the real world. Your hair isn’t red, people don’t walk around on stilts. Maybe somewhere you can earn money drinking margaritas through a curly plastic straw, but in this world you’ve got to turn up, log on and grind down.”
    (Helps Jez fill his glass from the shower head.)

I think Episode 2 might be my favorite.

Mark’s incredible range between know-it-all high-horsiness and humiliated paralysis is so real–they strike an amazing balance between the impulses that make somebody a righteous prig and a sad little ball of insecurity who regularly imagines that “nothing this bad has happened to anyone, ever,” and switches in the next second to “this is the best thing that has happened to anyone ever!” Which might in the end be about wheat toast. Mark’s non sequiturs and small delights are so much more satisfying than Jez’s because he wants to resist them so badly. His lapses of self-consciousness are so pleasant; how nice, we think, that he forgot himself and actually enjoyed something for a second.

I like, too, that nothing that works for Jez works for Mark. Jez’s whole system—“maybe if I don’t think about it, it didn’t happen,” and vice versa—is based on a sort of anarchic splattering of everything with Jezness in the hope that some of it sticks, and some of it does.

Why is it that Mark is actually comfortable, relaxed, even kind of witty with the goth girl? Is it her youth? Her gothness? Her evident willingness to accept him just as he is and evaluate him according to his own miserable standard and still hang out with him?

Fondly,
Millicent

Peep Show

Dear CF,

I have binged on Peep Show during this past week, and have watched nearly all of the five series. I find it addictive and pleasant, despite the really quite incredible unattractiveness of the people and lifestyles concerned. I feel like it’s sort of an inverse of the The Office. This is what the show might have been like if the documentarians ignored the office life and followed Ricky Gervais around at home.

That flat is among the dreariest, most depressing and utterly beige things I have ever seen on television. It’s appalling and depressing and yet so nondescript that I can’t call to mind a SINGLE feature of their living room. The kitchen is more definite.

Mark’s obsession with history stuff is so unappealing and so real; his entire persona is brilliantly crafted, I think, right down to the worry about his misshapen scrotum (though not, he explicitly states, his penis). The homosocial stuff is dealt with so directly; I love that Mark spends a lot of time considering whether he might be gay because of his man-crush on Allen Johnson.

The way the show handles story arc between episodes is bizarre, and more “real” in its effect than reality TV could ever possibly be.

Can we talk about this as we would a movie? I nominate it for Nitpicking.

Fondly,
Millicent