Friday, 22 January 2016

Peep Show: Series 9

In 2010, cult-favourite Peep Show became the longest-running comedy series in Channel 4’s history. Following the painfully but hilariously mundane lives of dysfunctional friends Mark (David Mitchell) and Jeremy (Robert Webb) through point-of-view camerawork with their thoughts heard as voiceover, the show was extremely well-observed, relatable and consistently brilliant. In September 2013, Channel 4 made an upsetting but understandable announcement – the show’s 9th season would be its last. After airing through November and December of 2015, Peep Show: Series 9 is out now on DVD. Does it end on a strong note?

After series 8’s love-triangle ending, time has not healed the rift between Mark and Jeremy. With Jeremy now living with Super-Hans (Matt King) and Mark having a new flat-mate (Tim Key), it looks like the Peep Show we know and love is over. The friends are now almost enemies and the dynamic has changed. But this doesn’t last long. By the end of the episode, Jeremy is living with Mark once again and we embark on another series that doesn’t have much of a feeling of finality to it. 

There are some extremely funny moments of social awkwardness and cynical observation – the traits we love Peep Show for – but on the whole, there’s nothing here that feels like it will stand out as one of the stronger seasons years down the line. After announcing this season in 2013 and finally airing it in 2015, there was a certain hype and level of expectation – especially knowing it was the final season right from the get-go. And while this expectation was met, it was not exceeded. A lot of people have dropped in and out of Peep Show over the years but I’ve been a devout fan for a long time. While I confess I wasn’t there at the very beginning, I’ve been loyal ever since jumping in around series 2 or 3. This is what makes the disappointment all the harder. The plots are predictable and don’t feel like anything we haven’t seen before in earlier seasons – the only major difference being Jeremy now has a boyfriend and being quite openly homosexual, or at least bisexual, around Mark. To quote Seinfeld, “not that there’s anything wrong with that!”.

But it is the ending that gives me the most mixed feelings – even now, weeks after I saw it. Without giving anything away, Peep Show’s ending is arguably the only ending it could be. Nothingness. We leave our characters almost exactly as we met them, destined for a life of mediocrity and emptiness. But although on the one hand this seems fitting, on the other it feels like a rather weak ending. I can’t think what I would’ve liked more – be it a character death, some big twist or even a happy ending – but there’s something about this ending that didn’t feel like an ending at all. I still don’t feel like I’ve said goodbye to the show, or that it won’t be back again next year. Nothing about it felt conclusive. There was no closure. Yes, Mark and Jeremy don’t deserve happiness. But they deserve an ending to their show, after 9 seasons.

To conclude, Peep Show is one of the all-time best British comedies and a personal favourite of mine but even weeks after this final series finished airing, I still don’t feel like it had anything to make it feel like a final hoorah. While it was funny, it wasn’t anywhere near as funny as the show was at its peak – and a somewhat “is that it?” after-taste to the final episode left me confused and underwhelmed. But at the end of the day, even weak Peep Show is better than most of the stuff on television today, and Series 9 is historic. It’s the end of an era. I’ve spent many years laughing at this brilliant show and the ending, disappointing or not, made me emotional. Just typing these words feels strange. And even with other brilliant British television cropping up these days like the beautiful Detectorists, there will never be another Peep Show. Goodbye, Mark and Jeremy. Thanks for everything.

Peep Show: Series 9 isn’t an explosive or particularly exciting conclusion, but then again, was it ever going to be for these mundane characters? 4/5.


Sam Love

Peep Show: Series 9 at CeX

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