Series / Plebs
is a 2013 ITV sitcom set during The Roman Empire
and revolves around two young plebs, Marcus and Stylax, and Marcus' slave, Grumio. At the start of the series they've been living in Rome for 6 weeks, and Marcus and Stylax work together at a scriptorium. In the first episode, a young Briton, Cynthia, and her slave Metella become their neighbours, and Marcus quickly develops a crush on Cynthia.
Described by the Radio Times
as The In Betweeners meets Rome
. Two series have aired, with a third confirmed to air in 2016.
Plebs contains examples of:
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Most definitely averted in "The Race", where Grumio is forced to squeeze through a narrow sewage pipe to make contact with Landlord in prison.
- Anachronism Stew: Most likely due to Rule of Funny, but bananae and pineapples were not available or known to Romans.
- Banana Peel: Happens to Aurelius after Stylax introduces bananas into the workplace. After his fall, Flavia bans bananas from the scriptorium.
- Chariot Race: Stylax participates in an "underground" one in "The Race".
- Cloudcuckoolander: Cynthia, to a certain extent. For instance, she doesn't realise that gladiators actually die: she thinks it's 'theatre'. On the other hand, when a daft old crone puts a 'curse' on her, she thinks it IS real.
- After Grumio falls ill with a stomach bug, she also advises Marcus against buying medicine for him and instead suggests offering prayers to Hygieia.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Metella, Cynthia's slave.
- Cringe Comedy: Stylax rushing into Flavia's office to thank her for recommending the clinic and herpes cream....and completely failing to notice that she is meeting with clients. Verbal Backspacing ensues before he beats a hasty retreat.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: A popular pastime in Ancient Rome, sometimes with the aid of an erotic vase. And don't even ask what Stylax does with a dead gladiator's hand...
- Dodgy Toupee: worn by Victor of the Gracchi, and managed by Marcus, in the election episode.
- Doorstop Baby: Grumio finds one lying in the estate dumpster and decides to raise it. Marcus is opposed to it, but Stylax takes the opportunity to use the baby to get paternity leave and chat up a wet nurse. After refusing to leave her at an orphanage, Grumio agrees to let Landlord's bodyguard Davus take the baby to raise with his wife.
- Erotic Eating: Averted- it looks like Flavia is going to eat the banana in an erotic way, especially when she asks Stylax to look away while she's eating, but she then proceeds hold it horizontal and nibble on it like corn on the cob.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": "Salve, Landlord."
- Gag Penis: The titular stone penis in "The Phallus", accidentally broken off a satyr statue by Grumio and used by Stylax when he can't get it up in bed with old flame Cordelia.
- Girl Next Door: Cynthia
- Gladiator Games: Part of the plot of "The Gladiator". Cynthia is dating a gladiator and doesn't believe the bloodsport is real.
- Honest John's Dealership: Landlord is shown to have his fingers in a variety of pies, including life insurance, lottery tickets and "seeds" he sells to local "chefs" for Roman cooking which is actually henbane.
- Hospital Hottie: The nurse who treats Stylax for his STD.
- Kind Hearted Cat Lover: Cynthia happily adopts a stray and names it Felix when Rome becomes infested with cats. Marcus pretends to be a cat lover as well, but neither she nor Metella are convinced. Especially after Felix chokes to death in his apartment.
- Kissing Cousins: Stylax and Lucretia. Neither of them see anything wrong with it, and are surprised to find out that everyone else is squicked out by it. And then Stylax is squicked when he finds out that Flavia has done it. With several cousins.
- Less Embarrassing Term: Aurelius is a Water Man, not a Water Boy.
- Limited Wardrobe: Marcus, Stylax and Grumio seldom change clothes.
- Male Restroom Etiquette: Averted and possibly a case of Shown Their Work as the "executive bathroom" Marcus and Stylax visit is depicted accurately as a typical public bathroom in ancient Rome. Nevertheless, Marcus is annoyed when Stylax tries to read over his shoulder and forgets to bring his sponge for wiping. Stylax on the other hand is happy to let Gaius read his charioteer manual.
- Mushroom Samba: Grumio consumes all of the henbane seeds Landlord gives him and has a series of chicken-related hallucinations during Aurelius' stag night.
- New Year Has Come: The series one finale takes place during Saturnalia and has Marcus and Stylax racing to find Cynthia and Metella in the forum before the gong strikes twelve.
- A Party Also Known as an Orgy: Marcus and Stylax fork out for tickets to an orgy; Marcus tries to convince Na´ve Newcomer Cynthia to come as his guest, while avoiding mention that it's an orgy.
- Plot Arc: Stylax's quest to become a charioteer in series two.
- Potty Failure: Marcus and Grumio, both on purpose to spite the other.
- The Queen's Latin: Most of the characters are from the lower middle classes and speak with working class accents. Grumio in particular has a very thick Yorkshire accent.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Impulsive Stylax usually wears a red tunic, while the much more sensible Marcus tends to wear blue.
- The Roman Empire: It isn't initially specified when exactly the series is set, but the series one finale reveals that it's set in 27 B.C., early in the reign of Augustus.
- Running Gag: "Waterman."
- Flavia checking in on Marcus and Stylax just when Aurelius has said something embarrassing and/or sexual.
- Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Fabianus ("Fab") is more of the grudge holding type. He agrees to Marcus' request to help Cynthia out with her court hearing, but sabotages both by turning up to the court as prosecutor and reminding Marcus that he was the schoolyard bully.
- Servile Snarker: Metella mostly, but Grumio and Aurelius the water boy both have their moments.
- Shotgun Wedding: Stylax and Ambrosia are forced into an engagement after her politician father finds out about their affair after rude graffiti of the two of them is scrawled all over his election campaign posters.
- Shout-Out: A slave named Grumio, you say?
- Stylax's patron is named Gaius Maecenas. The real Maecenas was well known as a patron, but for poets, not charioteers.
- In "The Candidate", Victor of the Gracchi is a likely nod to brothers Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, both populist politicians who ran for the tribunate and met bad ends.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Marcus and Metella in "The Race".
- Stag Party: Marcus is tasked with organising one for Aurelius in "The Best Men". It does not end well.
- STD Immunity: Averted- Stylax Really Gets Around and catches genital herpes as a result.
- Swapped Roles: Marcus agrees to trade roles with Grumio for his birthday. Cue Grumio getting his hair styled, wearing Marcus' best tunic (and getting hair dye on it) and ordering Marcus to buy a couple of geese for dinner. Marcus is not impressed.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Grumio really shouldn't have eaten that bog apple...
- Stylax is seen throwing up after his first chariot race.