show about two very ordinary weirdos: Jeremy "Jez" Usbourne (Robert Webb), a manchild and would-be musician, and Mark Corrigan (
), 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
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,
- Accidental Proposal: Sort of. In the series 3 finale, Mark takes Sophie to the Quantocks with the intention of proposing to her. Later on he gets lost in the hills with Jeremy, and realises that he doesn't actually want to marry her after all. By the time he gets back, however, she's already found the engagement ring and accepts on the spot. He's too embarrassed to say anything.
- Achievements in Ignorance: Jeremy wins at poker only because he doesn't know the rules and mistakes a crap hand for an unbeatable one (because all the cards are red).
- Act Of True Love: Jeremy thinks that travelling for hours to buy Elena her favourite bread counts as this. She doesn't really appreciate it.
- Addiction Displacement: Super Hans (briefly) replaces drugs with olives, knitting and long-distance running.
- All Men Are Perverts: And almost all women are horrible control freaks. It's a Crapsack World, after all.
- Almost Out of Oxygen: "I suppose we do need to get out of here quite soon. Before the air supply runs out." Not really Jeremy, air doesn't actually run out in building foyers, on account of them not being airtight.
- Lampshaded by Mark, as per usual. "You really are an imbecile, aren't you?"
- Ambiguous Disorder: Sophie's brother is most definitely not normal.
- Ambiguously Bi: Both of the flatmates have crushes on men at one point: Mark with Alan Johnson, and Jeremy with Stu the monk. It's more obvious with Mark, whose sexuality keeps popping up throughout the series, and in episode 4 actually buys a gay porn video to see if he's bisexual.
Mark (thinking about Johnson): I do quite enjoy it when he's rude to me. Hopefully that's just a psychological defect rather than a weird sexual thing.
Jeremy (thinking about Stu): Look at those muscles. That is what a man should look like. And those arms! Like bows of sturdy English oak. I wonder how it'd feel to have those wrapped around you. You'd just feel so safe!
Jeremy (about to have an unwanted [but consensual] sexual encounter): Just imagine it's Stu. Lovely Stu.
- Artistic License – Gun Safety: Lampshaded with both Mark and Jeremy when the latter finds a pistol in his aunt's old house. Comes to a head when Jeremy casually points it at Mark, with his finger on the trigger. It turns out to be deactivated, thankfully.
Jeremy: I wasn't pointing it, I was just stretching my arm!
Jeremy: (earlier on, with the gun to his head): Now pass me the Doritos or I'll blow my brains out!
- Ascended Extra: A handful of JLB workers can be seen milling around the office well before they finally get lines.
- Awkward Kiss: All romantic interactions are made as awkward as possible, from kissing to sex scenes. It's a britcom, after all.
- 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.
- Bad Boss: Arguably Johnson (he doesn't have a lot of respect for his employees, describing them as slave drones among other things) and definitely Mark in 'Conference - he swears at his employees, calls them all sorts of names and admits that he stamped on Gerrard's foot in a way that might look like an accident just because he was angry.
- Bedroom Adultery Scene: An especially humiliating one happens to Jeremy in series 6, culminating in being forced to crawl out of the flat on his hands and knees, in his pants, while taking care not to wake up the person he's cheating on.
Jeremy (while crawling): This could be kind of exciting, actually. Raffles, the gentleman perv! (he reaches to get his clothes, but Elena bats his hand away) No clothes. Raffles doesn't deserve clothes.
- 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.
- Bi the Way: Jez and Super Hans.
- Black Comedy: Despite not involving much death or tragedy, the show's down-to-earth depiction of everyday miseries easily makes it one of the darkest sitcoms on TV.
- Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word:
Mark: (Stalking's a very loaded term. I prefer to think of it as "extreme liking.")
- Blatant Lies: Jez and Mark lie all the time, almost always for selfish and/or cowardly reasons.
- Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: When Mark met Dobby. She carries personal cheese.
- Blunt "Yes": On the topic of Crystal Skulls:
Cally: How could you possibly make one of these, except by some kind of magic?
Mark: In a factory... from glass...?
Cally: [scoffs] Oh sure, come on! Could you make that?
Cally: Could anyone?
- Bottle Episode: Nether Zone, almost all of which takes place inside Zahra's apartment building.
- Seasonal Beatings, which takes place entirely inside Mark and Jeremy's flat.
- As does The Party, save for a scene at the beginning where Mark invites Dobby to said party.
- Brainless Beauty: Pretty much all of Jeremy's love interests, as well as a handful of Mark's. Nancy, Big Suze, Elena, as well as a lot of female guest characters all count as examples of this trope.
- 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 eight series and the ninth has been confirmed (making it the longest-running Channel 4 sitcom ever in terms of series).
- Buttmonkey: Mark. Bloody. Corrigan.
- But We Used a Condom: A justified example; after having sex with Sophie, Mark realises that particular condom has been in his wallet so long it's actually expired.
- Call Back: In the series 5 episode "Burgling," one of the teen burglar's friends calls Mark "clean shirt" as he walks out with the TV. Yup, it's the same character who tormented Mark in the first episode of the show—played by the same actor (who is now in his mid teens).
- Canon Discontinuity: Jez used to be a nurse, but doesn't seem to know even the most basic medical terms. In the pilot he idly wonders if someone can "catch" cancer, and in episode 6 he doesn't know what a hospice is or what it means to be terminally ill. This can be attributed to Jeremy simply being an idiot, but it still leaves one with the question of how he got the job in the first place.
- Likewise, Jeremy gets chlamydia twice in the series; once sometime before series 3 and the next in series 5. The first time round he thinks its 'symptomless' yet the second time knows absolutely nothing about the disease and must have it explained to him.
- In the Series 5 premiere Mark mentions that the condom in his wallet is 2 years off expiry, but in the finale of the same series he realises that the condom would be expired and prone to breaking, which ends up being a major plot point.
- 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 instructor's car
- Most likely these throwaway bits of dialogue were discontinued to make for funnier jokes and plotlines.
- Celebrity Paradox: If you've seen David Mitchell's appearances on QI and other panel shows, it's a bit odd to hear Mark make an offhand remark about Jimmy Carr, and even more so to hear him compare his proposed escape from his wedding to Stephen Fry's suicide attempt and temporary disappearance. Still funny, though.
- Chained to a Bed: Jeremy doing this to Super Hans while the latter goes cold turkey is quite possibly the least sexy version of this trope imaginable.
- Change the Uncomfortable Subject: Naturally.
- Jez pleads with Zahra not to break up with him, while Mark awkwardly studies a bottle of shampoo:
Jez: Is this about last night? 'Cause I can do better. I know I can. I didn't even go down on you, which is a great shame because I love to go down on women, don't I, Mark?
Mark: "Rinse and repeat," always with the "rinse and repeat"...
- 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. Mark doesn't do the same, but he's tight-fisted with everyone, including his family.
- At the end of the New Year 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.
- Although series 8 has now been and gone and he still hasn't
- Averted with Mark. In series 8, he effectively repeats all the mistakes of his relationship with Sophie - up to and including a disastrous trip to the Quantocks. His career has gone backwards, he continues to delude himself about 'Business Secrets of the Pharoahs', and his relationship with Jez has deteriorated.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Toni just vanishes between series 2 and 3 with no in-show explanation. Word of God says they couldn't get her actress to return to the show, so had to use Michelle, a guest character, instead.
- Church of Happyology: Jeremy and Super Hans briefly join a cult known as "The New Health and Wellness Centre". The mythology revolves around "negative orgones" that cause human unhappiness. The cult takes personality tests and forbids thinking. They believe in the 7 truths taken from an asteroid that landed on earth in 1911.
- Closet Geek: Mark has shades of this. In series 1, Jeremy finds a fantasy model painting magazine hidden in his cupboard (which, of course, he mistakes for porn). When he meets Dobby, he's revealed to play a World of Warcraft-like game called Fantasy Warquest. Finally, when entering a geek shop with Gerard, he monologues about not feeling as awkward "since he bought his first twenty sided die".
- Cluster F-Bomb: Mark, after leaving a truly cringeworthy message on Sophie's answerphone.
- Comically Missing the Point: Jez, after many of Mark's insults.
- From the "Quantocking":
Jeremy: I'll go get us help!
Jeremy: Aha! So you admit we might die!
- From "Jeremy in Love":
Mark: It's remarkable, isn't it, that out of the three billion adult women in the world, your one true soulmate happens conveniently to live in the same block of flats as you, rather than, say, in a village in Mozambique?
Jeremy: [serenely] Who knows how these things happen?
- Jez and Mark conduct a conversation about "Kenneth" (Mark's dildo) in front of a book group, as if they're talking about a friend. After Mark leaves, Jez turns to the book group and says "Kenneth is Mark's 9-inch dildo!".
- Companion Cube: Not as an Audience Reaction, but In-Universe, as Mark and Jez occasionally have tender thoughts for certain objects.
- After discovering that Sophie has broken his "Piggin' Tea Break" mug:
Mark: (Maybe I'll stick it back to "Harpenden Harpenden Harpenden," see how she likes that! ...No. Can't we leave the mugs out of it? Even the mob never hit the families.)
- As rioting laid-off JLB employees prepare to launch a photocopier down the stairs:
Mark: (Oh my god. That wasn't my main photocopier, but it was a trusty steed when the main one was busy!)
- Trying to break into Zahra's flat with a shelving bracket:
Jez: (Come on, bit! Don't let me down now, bit!)
- Continuity Nod: The show is remarkably consistent, briefly revisiting old plot points and character habits as throwaway brick jokes for the more astute fans to pick up on.
- In 'Seasonal Beatings', Mark's dad spills Kava on the carpet. Mark remarks 'it's ok dad, the carpet's seen worse'. It certainly has seen worse, because one of Sophie's drug-addled friends spilled an entire glass of red wine all over it in series 3.
- Couldn't Find a Pen: Super Hans (very messily) signs a contract with his own blood in "Man Jam."
- 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 45 minutes to respond to burglaries, chavvy kids and muggers lurk on street corners and the corner shop doesn't even sell Alpen. Things get even worse after series 6, when the recession hits and JLB credit goes out of business.
- That may not be a deliberate invocation of this trope, because that's a relatively accurate portrayal of Croydon.
- Also worth mentioning is the fact that the vast majority of characters are twats. Jeff is the most prominent example, but out of the dozens of cast members on the show, the only truly good ones are Dobby and a couple of extras.
- 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.
- 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.
- And again in Episode 3 ("Gym") when Mark is forced to falsely confess to being molested by a trainer... in front of the innocent trainer.
- Crystal Skull: A lady believing in them is enough to make Mark consider breaking up with her.
- Dissimile: Jez, after being sidelined from a three-way with Nancy and a hippie:
Jez: (This is like watching a porno, except I can't see anything, I haven't got a hard-on, and I want to cry.)
- Deadpan Snarker: Constantly. Mark is by far the worst (and snarkiest) offender, but some others also carry the label. Also, since we can hear the character's thoughts, the main pair can get a sarcastic comment in without interfering with the situation.
- Death of the Hypotenuse: A particularly dark example. Just as he's becoming a major character, Gerrard is killed off without warning. Of the flu, no less.
- 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.
- Divorce Assets Conflict: There's a brilliant scene in episode 3 where Tony is collecting stuff from his flat while his ex, Toni, is loudly having sex in the next room to spite him.
Tony: I'm gonna take the cappucino machine; is that OK?
Toni (while having sex with Jeremy): You're NEVER! TAKING! THE CATCHIO!
- Double Entendre: Surprisingly rare for a Britcom. One notable example is Mark, who describes humanity's basic needs as very simple: "food, water, and the release of fluids at regular intervals".
- 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, and it's still played for comedy. The fact is though it simply wouldn't have happened if it was male on female.
- Dreadful Musician: Jez and Super Hans. Small moments of badness abound, but the worst ones have to be Jez' song in the pilot, and his attempt at playing the saxophone later on. The band are also shown to be pretty crap, using the most painful rhyming from anywhere, ever.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Gerrard dies of the flu in the Series 8 premiere.
- Drugs Are Bad: Zig-zagged. Softer drugs (cannabis, ecstasy, magic mushrooms etc) are regularly taken with few consequences, but Super Hans becomes a high functioning crack addict in series 2, which, being a Black Comedy, is mostly Played for Laughs. There's also the case of Saz breaking down crying after taking speed, which Mark lampshades as being like "my very own anti-drugs advert".
- 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 its 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 shaky 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.
- The show was also a lot less plot-driven in the first series. Each episode had a much more simple storyline and scenes contained a lot more banter about topics completely irrelevant to it. There was also not really as much overarching storyline, besides Mark trying to seduce Sophie and both him and Jeremy lusting after Toni.
- In episode two, Jeremy thinks about "Mum 'n' Dad", implying his parents are still married. We find out in series five that Jeremy's father left his mother when Jez was ten.
- 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.
- Eskimos Aren't Real: Upon hearing her accent, Jez wonders if Elena is from Russia "or one of those other, made-up countries."
- Establishing Character Moment:
- Jeremy's is probably the most obvious; when we first see him, he's dancing to an awful music track he composed while thinking about getting a tattoo of his own face ("Yeah! Double me!").
- Mark's first scene has him running for a bus because his love interest Sophie is on it.
- Dobby is introduced willingly Eating Lunch Alone at work while reading a back issue of Viz.
- 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.
- False Rape Accusation: Mark falsely accuses his fitness instructor of touching his penis in Series 3
- Flanderization: Johnson's accent and mannerisms get more exaggerated and ridiculous as the show goes on. Possibly justified after JLB closes and his sanity goes down the toilet for a while.
- Big Suze, who goes from posh-accented but nice to, for lack of a better term, posh bitch for the later series (though she is only shown being a bitch to Mark, Jez and maybe Johnson, all of whom have treated her pretty shabbily).
- Sophie starts out as a dotty, occasionally grumpy woman who's easily manipulated by Mark and Jeff. From series 3 onwards, she's the one doing the manipulating and her mean spirited side is much more pronounced.
- Fate Worse Than Death:
Jeremy: '(about trying to pimp out Big Suze to Johnson for £530) '"God, I only asked her to be a hooker! It's not like I wanted her to work in telesales."''
- 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.
- Force Feeding: When Mark finds out that Jez went to an Indian restaurant instead of to the therapy session Mark paid for, he orders Indian takeout and forces Jez to eat it until he confesses.
- Foreign People Are Sexy: Russian Elena.
- 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. More so with 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 try 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 whom 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: Mark the history buff frequently thinks of mundane situations in terms of World War II campaigns, usually with himself in the role of either Hitler or Stalin. Subverted in series 7 when his claim to be Just Following Orders makes him compare himself to... Vince Cable.
- Gone Horribly Right: Over the first 7 series, Mark goes through all the stages of a relationship with Sophie, the girl he has an obsessive crush on including marrying her and having a child with her. Emphasis on the "Horribly".
- Gold Digger: Mark decides NOT to call off his engagement to Sophie so he can get to live in her grandmother's cottage.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Mark has a look at Sophie's caesarian section in progress, but thankfully, it isn't shown on screen.
- Grow Old with Me: Mark fantasises about this with Sophie.
- Hannibal Lecture: Mostly done by Mark to Jez, but occasionally vice versa. Often overlaps with "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
Jeremy: Am I evil?
Mark: No Jeremy, the worst thing anyone could say about you is that you are a selfish moral blank whose lazy cynicism and sneering ironic take on the world encapsulates everything wrong with a generation, but you, my friend, are not evil.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Jez at the end of Series 7 pretends to have somewhere else to stay so that Mark can "move on" with Dobby. He also takes a "wank bullet" for Mark in Series 6.
- 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 bag in front of her belly.
- Hypocritical Humor: "My dad died when I was three but I didn't let it screw me up" - Toni, Mark and Jeremy's very fucked-up neighbour.
- Mark sucking up to Johnson. "It's pathetic, the way [Blair] licks Bush's arse!" "...yeah!"
- Jez sleeps with a life coach in nothing but a bra who randomly says she's wearing a grass skirt made of castrated penises during sex and then tells him that there are no boundaries. She asks him what his biggest fantasy is, only to say that he's unstable and unfit to be a life coach because he said he wanted to cut her hair and eat it. Even after he tells her he was lying to seem more edgy and taboo and points out the hypocrisy, she still thinks this way.
- I Call Him "Mr. 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.
- The Megatron (i.e. the DVD, video, TV and Sky remotes taped together).
- 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: Gerrard, 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
- 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.
- Juggling Loaded Guns: "Gunny" is thankfully deactivated, as Jez finds out after he's been waving it at Mark with his finger on the trigger.
- Just Eat Gilligan: Many, but not all, of Mark's problems would be avoided if he cut Jez (and by extension Super Hans) out of his life.
- Kavorka Man: Superhans And Jez who despite his receding hairline, spacey teeth and a clingy, obsessed personality, he manages to find himself involved with a beautiful woman in almost every series (though they are all dumb and/or have low standards).
- Kick the Dog: The treatment that Mark gets in the workplace after he ostensibly goes through with the marriage to Sophie having been caught hiding in the church.
- Killed Off for Real: Gerrard in series 8.
- Kissgusting: Mark, when he's forced to kiss Jeremy (It Makes Sense in Context).
Mark: I can't believe I'm doing this. He doesn't even floss! I keep telling him to, but he won't!
- Laser-Guided Karma: In series 4 there's a temporary love interest who sums up her friend's suicidal phone calls as "I'm so sad, I'm gonna take a bunch of pills, blah blah blah". How does the episode end? Why, with her dog getting eaten, of course (again, It Makes Sense in Context).
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: Super Hans talking about first seeing the alleged love of his life: "When I first set eyes on [her], it was like my first joint, like my first Bowie track, like my first Ruth Rendell."
- 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.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: The cast starts out fairly manageable with perhaps a dozen characters. But each series adds a largeish handful, and by the end of it there's enough to keep new viewers in Continuity Lockout.
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Mark's never-ending search for "the one." Which is silly, because as we all know, Jeremy is it.
- Love at First Sight: Deconstructed. Mark often thinks he's doing this with people, but they almost always turn out to be horrible. If they're not, you can bet that his stalker-ish tendencies will drive them away at the end of the episode.
- Love Letter Lunacy: With post-its and swastikas.
- Love Dodecahedron: Series 1 and 2 has Mark competing with Jeff for Sophie, while simultaneously competing with Jez and Tony for Toni. The main characters taking on two rivals at once aren't uncommon.
- Love Triangle: A staple of the series. Series 1 has Mark/Jez/Toni, series 2 has Jez/Tony/Toni, series 1-3 has Mark/Jeff/Soph, series 5-8 has Mark/Gerrard/Dobby, series 6 has Jez/Gail/Elena, series 8 has Mark/Jez/Dobby, and so on. And this isn't even counting the temporary rivalries that occur with extras.
- Lower-Class Lout: The chavvy kids in episode 1, the muggers in series 3 and the burglars in series 5. Jeremy and Super Hans are also definite examples, albeit fairly realistic and fleshed out.
- Male Gaze / Female Gaze: Since we're ostensibly looking through male or female eyes, the occasional quick breast or crotch shot is to be expected.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Mark thinks Sophie is invoking this trope in "Quantocking":
Mark: (Oh, great, she posted the guide book. I suppose I'm supposed to think that's incredibly charming and French. Well it's not — it's a waste of £8.99.)
- Dobby seems like one for a while, but a large source of Mark's anxiety in later seasons is the fact that she does have a life of her own and is capable of deciding she doesn't want to settle down with him.
- 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.
- "So...you could rape me, but you couldn't make love to me???"
- Men Are Uncultured: Jez and Jeff. Averted by Mark, who loves history and classical music. Naturally, he regularly gets mocked for defying the trope. (However, Mark surprisingly feels the same as Jeremy about going to a play.)
- 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 favourite 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.
- 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 any more! 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.
- There are a lot of these. Mark's internal monologue: "Maybe I should get off with someone at Merry's party, in case Sophie does in Bristol. Yeah, right — when was the last time I got off with someone at a party? Well, there was Carol Bananaface... but that was just a macabre charade."
- No Sparks: Jeremy's manager says this, right in the middle of having sex with him.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: In "Gym", Jez applies for a menial job in order to get close to Nancy. The job is so unappealing that even the interviewer can't believe that Jez actually wants it, asking him if he's "writing a novel or something." Jez thinks "Don't want to seem overqualified!" and replies "What's a novel?"
- Odd Couple: Mark (uptight, socially retarded, clean freak) and Jez (relaxed, socially capable, a bit grubby) at first glance. However they're both rather 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.
- One Steve Limit: Averted in the episode titles, of all things — the finales of Series 2 and 4 are both titled "Wedding."
- One True Love: Mark thinks this about Sophie, as well as a lot of others. Jeremy is slightly more Genre Savvy about this, but still gets incredibly possessive over his girlfriends.
- Oops I Forgot I Was Married: Nancy and Sophie both forget their marriages to Mark and Jez at some point.
- Operation Jealousy: Toni having sex with Jez in front of her estranged husband, Nancy telling Jez to sleep on the sofa because she's planning on 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 Jez realises what (funny though he is) an arse Super Hans is.
- Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: Dobby jokingly offers Jez "something that for legal reasons must call itself 'sparkling grape-style drinking wine."
- Pac Man Fever: Averted. In early series, Mark is shown to be playing Blitzkrieg and Tetris Worlds, then relatively recent games. PS2 games can also clearly be seen in the flat.
- "The Playstation! I'd nearly broken through on Medal of Honor! That was 120 hours of quality 'me' time!"
- "The sofa's out; Jeremy's busy murdering pedestrians on Grand Theft Auto."
- Played straight: the few seconds we see of him playing Blitzkrieg he's clearly playing the tutorial stage when he says he's spent hours on it. (Blitzkrieg is a long game, but the tutorial should take 15-30 minutes at most.)
- Painful Rhyme: Super Hans' song in Series 7. All of it.
I am in loco parentis, I am the last remaining contestant on The Apprentice
, I am the home trained dentist...
- Paintball Episode: The second half of "The Love Bunker."
- Papa Wolf: If you come after Mark's baby Ian, Mark will stab you! "Stab you right in the eye!"
- Parrot Exposition: Used occasionally, generally when Jez is explaining something unfamiliar to Mark, or vice versa.
Jez: We're just gradually sliding into a fuck buddy scenario.
Mark: Fuck buddy?
- Pay Phone: Mark uses one when he has give up his mobile in an effort to save money.
Jeremy: What are you doing in a phone box? Have you put a farthing in the slot? (to Zahra) Hey, Mark's in a phone box!
Zahra: Is it an ironic thing?
- Playing Drunk: Mark tries to fake an ecstasy high after being given a pill that he doesn't want to take. Hilarity Ensues.
- Plot Parallel: Super Hans falls in love with a woman who speaks zero English, saying she's The One - paralleling in one episode most of Mark and Sophie's relationship.
- 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.
- Put on a Bus: Sophie does not appear in Series 8. This is explained in episode 1 when Jeff turns up in Sophie's place at the flat to collect her and Mark's baby, then informs Mark that him and Sophie have got back together and moved into 'Nana's cottage' near Sophie's parents house in the countryside. It doesn't look like we'll be seeing much more of Jeff now either.
- 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".
- Recurring Extra: JLB credit is packed with these.
- Reset Button: Pushed at the end of Season 8. Dobby breaks up with Mark as he is unable to let go of his controlling ways, Jeremy will probably move back into the flat and Mark's been fired... again.
- Riches to Rags: A couple of moderate examples. Once JLB goes bust, Mark falls from a respectable management position to being Super Hans' personal lackey. Later we find that Johnson has lost his house, lost his job and has been reduced to starting up consultancy businesses that are doomed to failure. Word of God says he was going to be Driven to Suicide, but that plotline was discarded as being too dark even for Peep Show.
- Right Behind Me: Jeff and Johnson manage to trick Mark into pulling this on Dobby at Johnson's New Year's Eve party.
- Roommate Com: The show begins with the typical Odd Couple setup: pot-smoking slacker Jeremy is roommates with serious office worker Mark. Within the first few episodes it slowly becomes apparent that they and everyone else in their lives are all terrible, terrible people. Sometimes veers into Work Com territory when the plot involves Mark's coworkers, but the core of the show always comes back to the two roommates and their dysfunctional romantic lives.
- 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. However, after getting caught hiding he goes through with the ceremony only for a humiliated Sophie to give 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".
- Seamless Spontaneous Lie: Let's just say Mark and Jez get a lot of practice in this department.
Mark: [to Dobby and Elena] It's probably just the crazy old guy who keeps ringing our doorbell. And if you answer, he tries to grab your balls and make you buy his Rough Guide to Barcelona!
Jez: (Where did that come from? That was nice lying.)
- 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.
- Mark, a history buff, envisages everyday social interactions in terms of epic historical military campaigns.
Jez: No Mark. I only told you for a laugh. You promised not to tell!
promised not to invade Czechoslovakia, Jeremy. Welcome to the real world!
- Shame If Something Happened: Super Hans and Jeremy try and intimidate someone by performing ridiculously tame acts of vandalism to their flat.
Jez: We want our money back, and we're feeling a little clumsy.
(knocks over a tiny stack of letters)
- Shout-Out: Jeremy remarks when watching a play:
I've got Heat
on DVD at home. We're watching this, when for less money, we could be watching Robert De Niro AND Al Pacino.
- Skeleton Key Card: Subverted when Jeremy and Mark are locked in the foyer of Zahra's flat.
Jeremy: Oh fuck, this is impossible. It's really irresponsible of films to make out this is an option at all, because it just isn't.
- 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. He does become a lot more aware of this as the series goes on, but he's still a lot less awesome than he thinks he is.
- Sociopathic Hero: Mark and Jez, if you don't mind stretching the definition of heroism quite a bit.
- Speech-Centric Work: With the exception of brief establishing shots, pretty much every second of the show features someone talking (or thinking).
- Stalking Is Love: At least in Marks eyes. He reads Sophie's e-mail account, spies on her through his office's 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 Gerrard. Luckily for him, Dobby knows Mark better than himself so takes a more lenient stance on his behaviour than Sophie did.
- Stop Saying That!: In "Jeremy at JLB," Jez keeps using saying that things are "poof! gone!" with a pretentious hand gesture. Mark asks him to cut it out after the fourth time.
- Stunned Silence: In "Seasonal Beatings," after Mark's dad asks him why he doesn't "put a muzzle on [his] woman," everyone just stares at Mark, awaiting his response.
- Stylistic Suck: The song that Jeremy is shown working on in the very first scene of the series. (One of the Series One extras is a terrible video for it.)
- While it doesn't appear in the show proper, Mark's video CV also qualifies.
- 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 series to replace controlling, scary, kinky insane Toni. Sophie's mildly unhinged Jeremy-worshipping little brother 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.
- Their friend from university, Pedge, is often mentioned, usually when referring to a fun Noodle Incident that may or may not have also involved The El Dude Brothers, but never makes it onscreen.
- Mr. Patel, the corner store owner, is mentioned a handful of times throughout the series without being 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.
- This Is Reality:
Mark: (about his inability to make a business presentation for Project Zeus) "The Truth?! Soph, this isn't an advert, this is real life where cocks get chewed off and arses get stuffed with compliance reports!"
- Those Wacky Nazis: "I'm becoming the Führer! The Führer of Laughs!". Mark also dresses up as a German soldier for a WWII re-enactment.
- Too Dumb to Fool: Jez could be said to be Too Lazy To Fool, since his time spent as a brainwashed cult member lasted days.
- Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: One of the New Year's Eve 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 hygienic".
- 12 Angry Men: Jez just can't resist any opportunity to "stick it to The Man" in this scenario, no matter how belated.
- The Unreveal: Just what was happening at Super Hans' New Year's Eve party which was so horrific?
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Mark and Jeremy are strange variations of this. Even though Mark's an obsessive stalker and Jeremy is a deluded loser, they still veer between hateable and sympathetic.
- Unusual Euphemism: Scattered throughout the show.
- Especially this gem from the fourth season's Wedding episode:
- 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 first-hand. Nice!
- ...and of course, Mark at the party: "SNAKE!"
- Webcomic Time: It's never made exactly clear how time passes in the world of Peep Show. In Series 5 at least two years pass without us noticing, and Sophie's pregnancy takes a series and a bit.
- Wham Line: "Gerrard's dead."
- Although not spoken aloud there's a big one from Jeremy in the third episode of the 8th season: "I love you. Holy fuck where did that come from!?" Jeremy suddenly falling in love with a woman is nothing new except who's he in love with this time? Dobby
- 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.
- It's alluded to in the second episode of series 8 when a vanity publisher asks Mark for £2000 to publish "Business Secrets of the Pharaohs," and Mark thinks, "Just remember Johnson. Keep your panties dry until the big guy's hard."
- How, exactly, does the Gog story end up? When we leave it, Jez and Super Hans are about to beat him up for money.
- Who's Your Daddy?: Exactly who is the father of Sophie's baby? It's Mark.
- Wedding Day: The arc of the fourth series.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: The Bad Thing.
- Wunza Plot: One's a failed musician who think's he's a sex god. One's a geeky stalker who thinks he's a genius. Tropes Are Not Bad, indeed.
- The Yardies
Jeremy: "Or I could shoot Martin, or I could hire some yardies to shoot Martin."
Mark: "Jeremy, the yardies aren't going to solve all your problems. Why do you always think that the yardies are the answer to everything?"
Jeremy: (thinking) "The yardies will help me. I just need to get a number for the yardies."
- 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.