Dec 10, 2012

Continental TV Club: Peep Show Season 8, Episode 3

Do the plot repetitions mean the show has run out of steam, or are they meant to underline that Mark and Jez can't escape their patterns of behavior? And if it's the latter, how can the show evolve?

Peep Show continued its so-far solid 8th season with an entertaining, if not especially memorable, third installment.

Plot-wise, the episode combines a now-standard sitcom set-up (paintballing) with a variation on storylines which the show has previously explored. Thus, Mark faces increasing competition for Dobby, his girlfriend, from her ex-boyfriend Simon - reminiscent of his battle over Sophie with former colleague Jeff. And Jez decides he's in love with Dobby, which builds on previous similar situations: Mark falling for Jez's ex Big Suze; Jez's interest in Sophie; and both competing over Toni way back in the first season.

I'm not sure yet if the repetitions mean the show has run out of steam, or if they are meant to underline that Mark and Jez can't escape their patterns of behavior. The direction the show has taken this season actually makes me think it's the latter, as it is becoming increasingly clear that Mark and Jez are really and truly stuck with little chance of extricating themselves from their situation unless something dramatic happens.

Over the course of the show Mark has reverted from being a mid-management type in finance to unemployment, with a stint as a waiter and now as a bathroom supply salesman. And Jez, despite holding a job with a record company last season, is back to his standard life of low-budget hedonism.

Their contemporaries have dramatically moved on these last episodes: Sophie and Jeff are setting up a home with Mark's son; Superhans quit the music industry (though not his drug habit). So now Mark and Jez are trying to hang out with a "younger crowd" of late 20s / early 30s people they know through Dobby - I presume that, like the actors playing them, Jez and Mark are a good decade older. And though Jez can sort-of still fit in with this group (he even wears the same kind of clothes as they do), Mark is too obviously fusty - and even Superhans denigrates himself by buying drugs just to get the younger guys' approval.

It makes me wonder what end game the show is building towards. Will their new friends too "grow up" and move on while Mark and Jez live together until the first one dies? That's one of the few ways in which the consistent lack in character development could pay off. However, Jez's own realization of their codepedent situation suggests that them moving on is something the show will explore this season. So I'm wondering if over the next three episodes one of them is really, truly going to leave the apartment and how the repercussions of that will play out.

PS: I actually don't think that Jez makes the worst life-coach. His interest in his clients may be prurient and his advice generic and random, but he actually uncovered a main source of his client's dissatisfaction pretty quickly.

Photo: screengrab straight from 4oD.

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