Peep Show has become one of the most beloved comedies of the 21st century, combining cringe comedy, satire, and realism into the sitcom. Through its many characters, stories, and moments – it stands up as a huge name in TV, breaking through cult status to becoming a commercial, mainstream success. However, what was the first episode like? How was it different? How are the characters introduced to an unknowing audience? All these will be answered as we look back on the very first episode of Peep Show.
The Episode: Series 1, Episode 1 – Warring Factions
We first open with a very strange-sounding intro, vastly different from that of later series.
We open with Jeremy (more commonly referred to as ‘Jez’) playing some high-tempo dance music, setting the scene for his musical interests. All of the dialogue here is done via voice-over so appears to be as a non-spoken thought, the camera also is taken from a viewpoint of the characters, a recurring theme throughout the show’s run. We first meet Mark running through a street to try to get on the same bus as a girl, whom we soon find out is called Sophie. She accidentally sits on his hand without realizing as the socially awkward Mark does not mention it. Sophie is disgusted when she finds out.
Mark is next on the street where he is harassed by a number of juveniles. Afterward, Mark and Jez are in their flat as Jez asks Mark how his day has been, to which he simply replies “shit”. Jez talks to Mark further about his love life with “fuck buddy” Toni as Mark secretly desires the same treatment in life. Mark wants to leave his flat but does not feel he can do so due to the youths outside his house, he is then hit by the door when Toni arrives and joins the geeky character for some Alpen. The conversation gets awkward when Jez’s love interest brings up her sister’s leukemia and Mark tries to divert the conversation by talking about Blackadder.
To break the ice, Mark plays Jez’s EDM track to which they both howl with laughter until Jeremy finds them and is enraged and disheartened by the whole thing. Jeremy refuses to engage with Mark in the aftermath.
Jeremy meets Super Hans in the pub, who is clearly a close friend – which introduces us to one of the most admired and revered characters of the whole show. Jez tells Hans he is not so confident about the track but is reassured by Hans, who goes on to call the whole music industry saying all the leading figures are “perverts” in an obscenity-filled scene.
David Mitchell’s character again crosses paths with the kids who call him “clean shirt” before barraging him with kicks. Mark then goes on to find the word “Judas” spelled on his bed made out of various meats to which the duo argue with Jez calling Mark a “posh spaz” who “irons [his] socks” before criticizing his “weird nuts”.
Both attend Toni’s party where they seem disappointed with the low-tone gathering of neighbors rather than any friends of Toni. Jez seems bored and dejected until Toni’s sister tells him she is in the music industry. After a failed game of Blind Man’s Bluff with post-it notes, Jez and Paula (Toni’s sister) leave to collaboratively hear his music. Mark informs Jez that Toni’s sister has cancer. She approves of Jeremy’s tune before the two kiss with Jez being hesitant in doing so.
Meanwhile, Mark tries to get with Toni, seductively attempting to talk about the events of Stalingrad. Toni then reveals that Paula is her half-sister and is not the one with leukemia, meaning Jeremy has been accidentally misinformed by Mark. Full out of wine, it is requested that Mark goes to get some more alcohol from the off-license but does not try to avoid interacting with the troubling kids.
Jez then finds out Paula does not have cancer, to which he sarcastically assaults Mark. After their argument, they are eventually kicked out of the party.
- We get a good introduction to some of the characters within the show such as Mark, Jez, and Super Hans.
- This signals the start of many recurring jokes and themes such as Mark’s weird nuts and Jez’s half-painted walls.
- We get the first storyline progression as we understand Jez is trying a career in music and Mark starts his long path trying to find love with co-worker Sophie.
- The Super Hans scene
- This is more of a slight on future episodes, but some characters are not followed up on as in-depth.
So What Did You Think Of Peep Show?
Overall, although maybe not the most entertaining or complex episode of the show ever made, it is a near-perfect introduction of the show to the audience – with the themes, characters, and motives clear going forward.