Peep Show

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"I've made a psycho call to the woman I love, kicked a dog to death and I'm about to pepper-spray an acquaintance... I mean, what's happened to me?"

Peep Show (2003-) is a very darkly comical show about two very ordinary weirdos: Jeremy "Jez" Usbourne (Robert Webb), a manchild and would-be musician, and Mark Corrigan (David Mitchell), a fifty-year-old in a thirtysomething body. The show's gimmick is that (with very few exceptions) every camera shot in the show is taken from the point of view of one of the characters, whether Jez and Mark or just someone passing by. It also allows the viewer to hear the internal thought processes of both Mark and Jez as they bumble through their lives... and the show makes good on its promise of showing us everything going on in their heads.

The central pair are accompanied by a gradually evolving supporting cast of friends, friends' friends and girlfriends, including Mark's love interest Sophie, Jerk Jock Jeff, Jeremy's stoner bandmate Super Hans, and Alan Johnson, Mark's insane but charismatic boss.

Tropes used in Peep Show include:


  • Achievements in Ignorance: Jeremy manages to win at poker by not knowing the rules and mistaking a crap hand for an unbeatable one. Later on, he impresses Zara with some rather idiotic statements that she mistakes for hipster irony gags...in fact, it's safe to say Jeremy pulls these off fairly regularly.
  • Addiction Displacement: Super Hans (briefly) replaces drugs with olives, knitting and long-distance running.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Sophie's brother is most definitely not normal.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Sophie seems to believe this, and in the opening episodes of series 7 there are moments which suggests that this trope may actually apply as the tone becomes a bit brighter. Mark seems pleasantly surprised at realizing he actually has pleasant feelings toward his infant son. Episode four puts the show back in fine form.
    • Mark manages to salvage a very awkward conversation and get together with Dobby because he has his baby son with him.
  • The Baby Trap: It looks bad for Mark initially, but the committment to his son doesn't end up taking up as much time as first thought.
  • Berserk Button: Super Hans has a thing about "locked doors - ever since Dad locked me in the airing cupboard to monitor the homebrew..."
    • "This is bullshit!"
    • Toni also counts. She gets...shall we say...defensive over Peter Gabriel
    • CAULIFLOWER IS TRADITIONAL!
  • Beware the Nice Ones: When Mark apprehends a burglar, Big Suze suggests tying him up in the bath, then burning him with cigarettes to extract information.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Jez and occasionally Mark will come charging to the other's rescue.... usually when it's exactly the wrong thing to do.
    • Played straight when Mark rescues Jeremy from a book group he is attending in spite of having not read the book or any book, for that matter - apart from Mr Nice.
  • Big Word Shout: Mark's use of the f-word as part of his inner monologue after Sophie tells him she's pregnant.
  • Bittersweet Ending: If either Jeremy or Mark ends a series on a high note, its virtually guaranteed that the other will be losing out.
  • Black Comedy: Few shows come darker than this one.
  • Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: When Mark met Dobby. She carries personal cheese.
  • Brainless Beauty: Big Suze and, to a certain degree, Nancy
    • Arguably Nancy is even more brainless - she actually forgot she was married to Jez!
  • Brick Joke: Crack.
  • British Brevity: Straight in that each series is only six half-hour episodes long, but averted in that it has now lasted for seven series and will go up to at least the ninth (making it the longest-running Channel 4 sitcom ever in terms of series).
  • Butt Monkey: Mark. Bloody. Corrigan.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Jez used to be a nurse, but the writers have decided to "forget" this as evidenced by the first episode of series 7, where he has to have basic medical terms explained to him. Although this might explain why he is no longer a nurse: like most jobs he takes they don't tend to last long because he's useless at them.
    • Likewise, Jeremy gets chlamydia twice in the series; once sometime before series 3 and the next in series 5. The first time round he knows its 'symptomless' yet the second time knows absolutely nothing about the disease and must have it explained to him.
    • Also, Mark manages to drive Johnson's car very slowly in first gear in series 1, yet in series 6 he knows so little about finding the biting point that he damages the clutch of his instructors car. Most likely these throwaway bits of dialogue were discontinued to make for funnier jokes and plotlines.
  • Character Development: Jez begins to understand himself and how pathetic he is more as the series goes on. Also, the entire relationship between Mark and Jeremy; Jeremy goes from looking down on Mark to truly appreciating him in the later series. Even Mark shows signs of caring for Jez.
    • Especially evident in the series 7 Christmas episode, where Jeremy buys Mark some well-thought out presents that he is genuinely appreciative of and even spends 'hours' on the internet researching what turkey he thinks Mark would appreciate best for Christmas dinner. While Mark doesn't do the same, but he's tight-fisted with everyone, including his family.
    • At the end of the New Year's episode, Mark arranges to move in with Dobby. Jeremy's plans to move in with Zahra have fallen through but even with no place to live, Jeremy realises that Mark wants to move on and lets him go. Of course, the next series will tell...
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Toni just vanishes between series 2 and 3 with no in-show explanation.
    • Nancy also seems to disappear without explanation, particularly noitceable because she and Jez got married so she (an American) could stay in England after her visa expired. Did they get divorced or what?
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Mark, after leaving a truly cringeworthy message on Sophie's answerphone.
  • Comically Missing the Point: From the Quantocks episode:
  • Continuity Nod: The show is remarkably consistant, briefly revisiting old plot points and character habits as throwaway brick jokes for the more astute fans to pick up on.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Jez sent dog shit in the post, peppersprayed, tried to punch and possibly subconsciously tried to murder the men - and in one case a woman - who he considered rivals for whatever woman - Toni, Nancy, Big Suze, Elena etc - he was currently infatuated with. In one episode he got so clingy he was threatened by his girlfriend showing kindness to a homeless man. Mark although less extreme still has elements of this trope in his jealous stalking of Sophie.
  • Crapsack World: Mark and Jez live in Croydon, where kebab shop stabbings are always in the local news, the police take too long to respond to burglaries, chavvy kids and muggers lurk on street corners and the corner shop doesn't even sell Alpen.
    • And of course the recession hits in series 6.
  • Creator Cameo: Jesse Armstrong can be spotted on the bus in the first episode and is the man running up the steps in Gog's film.
  • Cringe Comedy: In hefty doses. At one point, Mark is so desperate not to get married to Sophie that he makes a spontaneous proposal to a waitress in a coffee shop. It goes exactly as you'd suspect.
    • ...swimmingly?
      • Are Mark and Sophie in the same frame? It's this trope.
    • The moment with Aurora's dog in Season 4, Episode 5 ("Holiday") redefines cringe comedy.
  • Crystal Skull: A lady believing in them is enough to make Mark break up with her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mostly in Mark and Jez's heads, though occasionally aloud with one another.
  • Dirty Coward: Both of our "heroes".

Mark: He thinks we can't hide forever!
Jeremy: He doesn't know us at all, does he?

    • Delivered while they're using their girlfriends as human shields.
  • Double Standard Rape (Female on Male) / Black Comedy Rape: Mark gets raped, and it's at least acknowledged as rape although he can't quite admit it to himself. The fact is though it simply wouldn't have happened if it was male on female.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Just what was up with the original title music?
    • Beyond that, the show as a whole had a different feel in the first series. Because it wanted to establish it's unique gimmick of showing everything through people's eyes, it did it to a greater extent, such as Mark running to the bus and it being shown exactly as it would look through his eyes even if it makes for very shakey footage and close-ups inside the toaster when Jez is making toast. As the series progressed, this was toned-down more and more and now the show is almost completely free of more 'arty' camera positions. Watching an episode from Series 7 alongside one from Series 1 can be slightly jarring.
  • Eating Lunch Alone: This turns out to be a saving grace for Mark when he finds Dobby eating lunch alone. He sits next to her after returning to work due to everyone else hating him for 'jilting' Sophie.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Mark has this for his boss, Alan Johnson. Jez has it for Stu the monk.
    • Among fans, it's Super Hans.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The entire premise of the series. Each small success just sets the main characters up for a big fall.
  • Fanfic: Sort-of 'live' version, as one enterprising fan tweeted as the characters while the episodes were broadcasting
  • Flanderization: Jeremy becomes more selfish and childish in series 5 and 6.
    • He seems to be getting better as of Series 7, notably the Christmas episode in which he buys Mark many presents he knew he would love.
    • Johnson's accent also seems to get more exaggerated and ridiculous as the show goes on.
    • Let's not forget Big Suze, who goes from posh accented but nice to, for lack of a better term, posh bitch for the later series.
  • Faux Yay: Invoked when Jeremy and Mark are caught in Ben's flat. Ben doesn't buy it.

Ben: You aren't gay guys! You two look like shit for gay guys!

  • Feigning Intelligence: In series 7 Jeremy tries this approach in an attempt to woo beautiful intellectual Zahra. Interestingly it is heavily implied that Zahra is herself using this trope, coming across as something of an intellectual poseur who is neither as deep nor as bright as she seems.
  • Foreign People Are Sexy: Elena, Nancy. Uncommonly for its genre, the show tends to have foreign love interest characters come from English-speaking countries: American Nancy, Canadian Merry and Australian Saz.
  • Freudian Excuse: When Jeremy joins the cult he cites a rocky childhood with his dad leaving when he was 10. Moreso is Mark; it is implied he had a miserable childhood, with a switch from private to state education, neglect/emotional abuse from his father and infidelity from both parents. This is turned up to eleven in Series 7 when we get to meet Mark's father and understand how much of a cocknob he is.
  • Friendship Moment: More than you'd expect from a black comedy. One which stands out is Jez coming to sit in the car with Mark after his wedding day has Gone Horribly Wrong.
  • Genre Savvy: Jeremy remarks in series 7 that his intentions are to juggle his job and trying to have sex with the boss's girlfriend "until it all blows up in [his] stupid face". In the same episode, Mark wonders what he is going to do that will prevent him from staying with Dobby immediately after getting together with her.
  • Girl of the Week: In almost every episode in series 5, Mark finds a new love interest who he thinks might be 'the one', only for them to leave him at the end of the episode.
  • Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: Played with. Jeremy initially doesn't mind Elena two timing him with a woman "because it's hot!" but he later becomes very jealous, possibly murderously so.
  • Godwin's Law: Despite him being a history buff Mark frequently violates Godwin's Law, though he subverts it in series 7 when his claim to be Just Following Orders makes him compare himself to... Vince Cable.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Jez about Mark - "I'm his one!"
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: Olivia Colman appears in every non-Talking Heads shot in Series 4 either straight on in black, in a big, flowy dress, or with a purse in front of her belly.
  • Hypocritical Humor: "My dad died when I was three, it didn't fuck me up" - Toni, Mark and Jeremy's very fucked-up neighbour.
    • Mark sucking up to Johnson. "It's pathetic, the way he licks Bush's arse!" "...yeah!"
  • I Call Him "Mister Happy": "Captain Corrigan is flying without a license!"
  • I Call It Vera: Gunny the gun.
    • "Just a little friend of mine called Mr. Cutty Knife!"
    • Kenneth the dildo.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode title of series 3 ended in "-ing": Mugging, Sectioning, Shrooming, Sistering, Jurying and Quantocking.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Almost Once an Episode.
  • Ill Boy: Gerard, not that he gets much sympathy for it.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Sophie. Olivia Colman is the master.
  • Inner Monologue: A big part of the show's approach. We don't just see everything from a first person perspective, but get to hear Mark and Jeremy's weird and wonderful musings.
  • Insult Backfire: Jez about Mark. "He took the insult as a compliment! Shit, he could become invulnerable!"
  • Intentionally Awkward Title
  • Jaded Washout: Mark, with the "glory days" replaced with more trauma.
  • Jerk Jock: Jeff Heaney, an arrogant and confident bully who believes men are programmed to do two things: "Kill, and knob". Hopefully one day Mark will give him a nice punch in the chops for all the abuse he's received.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jez. Granted, it's not a lot of gold. Maybe an atom or two. But it's there, so it technically counts.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: Many, but not all, of Mark's problems would be avoided if he cut Jez (and by extension Superhans) out of his life.
  • Kick the Dog: The treatment that Mark gets in the workplace after he ostensibly goes through with the marriage having been caught hiding in the church.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Mark plays World of Warcraft Fantasy Warquest. Dobby is a LARPer, which Mark tries but doesn't enjoy.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Done by Mark looking for a tutor name, with a reference to the Usual Suspects Ending.
  • Looking for Love In All the Wrong Places: Mark's never-ending search for "the one."
  • Love Letter Lunacy : With post-its and swastikas.
  • Male Gaze / Female Gaze: Since we're ostensibly looking through male or female eyes, the occasionally quick breast or crotch shot is to be expected.
  • Mate or Die: Jeremy brings this up as a hypothetical scenario. Mark concedes that he would have sex with Jeremy to save their lives provided Jeremy didn't enjoy it.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Dobby. Mark charmingly admits that she's the first person he feels comfortable around.
  • Never Bring a Knife to A Fist Fight: "Oh, so they're fine with hitting, but there's some sort of massive taboo against stabbing."
  • New Age Retro Hippie: A favorite target of the show. Both Big Suze and Nancy often engage in various "alternative" activities, and Jeremy is only too happy to go along with them.
  • No Bisexuals: Averted. Elena is the most obvious example but it is implied that both Jeremy and Super Hans are also bi to a lesser extent (they spend an episode competing over who can be the first to get oral sex from their teenage male bandmate) and Jeremy realizes at one point that he's had sex with more men than Sophie (so more than four, although he adds that he "basically only does it with girls"). Mark declares himself to be "maybe bi, not really curious".
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever is going on in the party at Super Hans's flat, which is too much for either him or Jeremy to handle.
    • Word Of Actor describes it as "The worst thing you can possibly imagine but less hygienic".
    • Mark, in "Jeremy's Manager": "We promised not to do the funny voices anymore! Not after that week."
    • The two of them occasionally remind each other of their university days as the El dude brothers. Mostly when one wants the other to do something. How they earned that nickname or how they actually met, is never revealed.
  • Odd Couple: Mark (uptight, socially retarded, clean freak) and Jez (relaxed, socially capable, a bit grubby) at first glance. However they're both introverted and neurotic, with Jez more socially uptight than Mark in many ways. He's desperate to appear cool in front of people like Super Hans, but ends up looking smug and pretentious.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Toni having sex with Jez in front of her estranged husband, Nancy telling Jez to sleep on the couch because she's planning of bringing home a one night stand after discovering he cheated on her, Sophie flirting with Jeff after she walked out on Mark after he tried to get out of marrying her by hiding on their wedding day and Jez's unsuccessful attempt to make Elena jealous by flirting with Mark's sister.
    • At the end of the 4th series he realises what (funny though he is) an arse Super Hans is.
  • Pac-Man Fever: Averted. In early series, Mark is shown to be playing Blitzkrieg and Tetris Worlds, then relatively recent games. PlayStation 2 games can also clearly be seen in the flat.
  • Papa Wolf: If you come after Mark's baby Ian, Mark will stab you! "Stab you right in the eye!"
  • Playing Drunk: Mark tries to fake an ecstasy high after being given a pill that he doesn't want to take. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: Darryl considers Mark's reaction to his rampant racism to be this. Jeremy also uses this phrase verbatim when he thinks Mark is saying he can't dislike Johnson because he's black.
  • Protagonist Centred Morality: Some viewers have this when it comes to the relationship between Mark and Sophie. Mark may have stalked her, decided not to end his engagement to her when he saw the house her parents would give her to live in, used her as a human shield, hidden in the church on their wedding day rather than have the courage to tell her face to face he didn't want to marry her and wandered off to play video games and eat KFC while she was in labor yet many viewers paint her as the villain in their relationship. She even gets blamed for dumping him on their wedding day even though she only did that after he was caught hiding in the church.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: "Flagpole Sitta" by Harvey Danger. Sean Nelson (Harvey Danger's lead singer) stated in an interview with some blog that Peep Show is "the only pop culture item the song has been associated with that feels like a kindred spirit to the original attitude of the lyric."
  • Right Behind Me: Jeff and Johnson manage to trick Mark into pulling this on Dobby at Johnson's New Years Party.
  • Runaway Groom: Mark attempts to be this when he hides in the church on his wedding day rather than tell Sophie he doesn't want to marry her. Sophie becomes this when she gives him a dose of Laser-Guided Karma and dumps him just after they married.
  • Sadist Show: Pure and simple.
  • Sanctuary of Solitude: Jeremy stumbled across Mark praying in the church on the latter's (much-dreaded) wedding day. Mark unconvincingly insisted he was simply "kneeling".
  • Serious Business: Johnson talks about the mundane middle-management machinations at JLB with the air of one dealing in matters of life and death, speaking in unrestrained jargon of his own invention. Mark nearly always follows his lead.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Jeremy acts like one. Unusually, he's aware of how pathetic he is but hasn't got a clue how else to behave.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Jez, if you don't mind stretching the definition of heroism quite a bit.
    • Mark, a history buff, envisages everyday social interactions in terms of epic historical military campaigns.
  • Stalking Is Love: At least in Marks eyes. He hacks into Sophie's email account, spys on her through his offices security camera, manipulates situations to spend time with her, and follows her on dates.
    • This is Mark's usual strategy for all women; Sophie is just one in a long line of er... catches. Let's not forget he managed to 'do a Columbo' and collect information on April the shoe shop girl, then track her down and find her at university. Mark also goes so far as to catch five buses to get across town to see Dobby, as well as spying on her when she was at a party with Gerard. Luckily for him, Dobby knows Mark better than himself so takes a more lenient stance on his behaviour than Sophie did.
  • Stylistic Suck: The song that Jeremy is shown working on in the very first scene of the series.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: "Of course I did all the lessons! What else would I have been doing, watching the frankly overrated The Wire on DVD day after day?"
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Controlling, scary, kinky, insane Michelle, who turns up between seasons to replace controlling, scary, kinky insane Toni. Sophie's mildly unhinged Jeremy-worshipping little brother Jeremy is also replaced by Sophie's mildly unhinged Jeremy-worshipping cousin Barney. They don't even try to hide it, casting people who even look like the character they're replacing.
  • Talking Heads: Due to the way the show is filmed, it's a fresh spin on the old formula.
  • The Ghost: Mark's semi-legendary father up until series 7. Also, the two have a friend called Peg who is frequently mentioned yet never seen.
  • The Teetotaler: Johnson is a teetotal former alcoholic before he snaps at the end of series 7 during Big Suze's New Year's Eve party.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: "I'm becoming the Fuhrer! The Fuhrer of Laughs!". Mark also dresses up as a German soldier for a WWII reenactment.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Series 7 Sophie is almost unrecognizable from the seemingly mature and decent woman she started out as. With every passing season it becomes harder to find her sympathetic no matter what Mark does to her due to her increasing bitchiness. Particularly when she does things like leaving her infant son alone on a pile of coats on the floor during a party and then getting mad at Mark when he meekly suggests that's not a good idea.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: One of the New Year's parties where Mark and crew are trying to find Dobby; it's so depraved it makes Super Hans think it's too much. Mitchell describes it as "the worst thing you can possibly imagine but less hygenic".
  • 12 Angry Men: Jez just can't resist any opportunity to "stick it to The Man" in this scenario, no matter how belated.
  • The Un-Reveal: Just what was happening at Super Hans' New Year's Eve party which was so horrific?
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Both Mark and Jeremy. For some reason Mark's nasty streak is mainly expressed through his inner monologue.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Both Mark and Jeremy have unwittingly done exactly the wrong thing, at exactly the wrong time, to ruin the other's happiness. Many times.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Mark and Jeremy epitomise this trope.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Thanks to the POV nature of the show, when Mark chucks up at a theme park, we get to see the whole thing literally firsthand. Nice!
    • ...and of course, Mark at the party: "SNAKE!"
  • What Could Have Been: In the pilot, Sophie was written as the third main character, with her own inner monologue voiceover and (at least a larger amount of) camera POV. This was dropped for the series proper, although the series 5 DVD did include 'Sophie's Peep Show', a version of the final episode of the series re-edited with Sophie's own voiceover and POV shots.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out whether Johnson swindles Mark out of £2000 for the management consultancy scheme or whether he gets it back.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: Exactly who is the father of Sophie's baby?
  • Wedding Day: The arc of the fourth series.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: The Bad Thing.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Most episodes can be summed up as "Mark narrowly avoids a fleeting moment of happiness". Dobby goads him about it.
    • He finally gets a Throw the Dog a Bone moment at the end of series 7's opener.
    • Lampshaded and then subverted in series 7 episode 2, where Mark has finally managed to get together with Dobby and wonders what's going to ruin it, thinking that it's likely to be something he says... and then he manages to end the episode still with Dobby and even managing to consolidate his position.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Hey, things are wrapping up, and Mark seems to have talked his way out of that zany misunderstanding. For once it looks like things are going to be all -- wait, there's ten minutes left in the show? Crap.