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Episodes is a British-American satirical Sitcom created by David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, and starring Stephen Mangan (Green Wing), Tamsin Greig (Black Books) and Matt LeBlanc.

Sean and Beverly Lincoln (Mangan and Greig) star as a husband and wife writing team from London who have just won two more BAFTAs for their critically acclaimed show Lyman's Boys. At the ceremony, they meet the American television executive Merc Lapidus, who claims to love their show, and offers them the opportunity to produce an American remake. Without any second thoughts, the couple packs their bags and heads to LA. Big mistake.

Upon arrival, they realize everything is not like they imagined. Not only does it turn out that Merc has never seen Lyman's Boys, but he also wants to use the American remake as a comeback vehicle for Matt LeBlanc, and is ready to Retool the show to meet any of Matt's eccentric demands.

And so, the couple of writers loses all creative control over the remake of their own brainchild to an executive who never saw their show, and an actor with the biggest ego they ever faced.

The show contains examples of:

  • Adam Westing: Conceited, egotistical serial adulterer(!) Matt LeBlanc.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Matt and his father have an insanely dysfunctional relationship.
  • As Himself: Matt LeBlanc, albeit a crazier version.
  • Audience Shift: When the studio finds out that the demographic the show's testing best with is teenage boys, they decide to retool it to focus more on the kids.
  • Ax-Crazy: Merc's successor Castor. A paranoid schizophrenic who furiously masturbates in his office, borderline rapes Carol several times and experiences wild mood swings.
  • Beat: Lampshaded. During a table read, idiot executive Myra asks if they really need "the bats". After a confused exchange;
    Sean: Could you possibly be referring to where it says that the actors should "take a beat"?
    Myra: Yes. [beat]
    Beverly: So the pauses, you want us to take out the pauses?
    Myra: Yes. [pause]
    Sean: Right. Well we like the pauses, so how about we shoot the pauses, and then if you still don't like them we can always have them cut in post in post? [incredibly long pause]
    Myra: Mmmmkay.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Matt and Beverly.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In episode 4, Matt makes fun of Beverly with the Lincolns' cleaning lady. In Spanish.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Pretty much everyone with the sole exception of the three main characters (in the sense that they wear the bitch element on their sleeves most of the time).
  • Black Comedy Rape: Matt, at a Rape Awareness Benefit.
  • Blatant Lies: Pretty much most of what Merc says to Sean & Beverley.
  • Blind Mistake: A couple of times with Merc's wife Jamie, for example needing a minder at a funeral to make sure she doesn't "go in the hole."
  • Book Ends: The show begins with an opening sequence in every episode, it appears at the final scene when the characters watch a test screening on what appears to be the fictionalized version of the show itself.
  • Breakout Character: In-universe, Stoke.
    • Carol is very popular and becomes much more of a focus character by season two.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Beverly does LA Valley Girl—"oh my god, I love your accent"—when telling Sean how much she wants to go home.
  • British Brevity: Season 1 had seven episodes, Season 2 through 4 had nine each, and the final season had seven.
  • The Bus Came Back: In-Universe. Just when it seems like "Pucks!" will get the axe, Executive Meddling as always manages to screw with everyone involved, mere days after the finale was shot.
  • Business Trip Adultery: To keep his affair secret, Merc lies to his wife about phony business trips in order for him to get away with Carol.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Merc's reaction when he thinks a travel agent has let his wife know about his plan to take Carol on a trip.
  • Conversational Troping: A conversation between Matt and Sean addresses British Brevity in episode 3. In series 2, Beverly is gobsmacked that the 'young' actors in 'Pucks' are in all their 20s or older, a reference to Dawson Casting
  • Creator Backlash: invokedBeverly openly states in the fourth episode that she hates what their show was turned into. For the rest of the show, she repeatedly makes her dislike of working in Hollywood known.
  • Creator Couple: In-Universe, Sean and Beverly are a husband and wife writing team who created Lyman's Boys, the show adapted as Pucks!.
  • Dawson Casting: In-Universe, the "kids!" on Pucks!. It gets lampshaded when Sean and Beverly hear from one of the actors about his divorce leading to their surprise at how old he is, leading him to say:
    Actor: You should see the guys on Glee, they're like 50.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sean.
  • Diagonal Billing: Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig alternate between second and third billing every episode.
  • The Ditz: Wendy the PA. Myra the executive is also pretty brainless.
  • Downtime Downgrade: Justified by Beverly's infidelity. The second season thus becomes a Will They or Won't They Get Back Together?.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: invokedIn-universe;
    • At a party, Merc's blind wife is talking about the charity she works with, whilst Merc is miming apologies before pretending to kill himself, thinking he's actually being pretty funny. Everyone else at the table is just looking around awkwardly.
      • Indeed, a running gag through the series is Merc constantly joking around his wife from fondling female guests to other lewd actions, acting like it's hysterical when everyone else just stares in disbelief.
    • Matt makes rape jokes... whilst on stage at a Rape Awareness Benefit.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: "Betsy" for Beverly.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: A group of Hollywood TV executives discuss a potential premise for their network's vampire style show. Many ideas are mentioned, culminating in Myra recommending the paranormal creatures in their show should be Gypsies. She recommends it twice, before somebody tells her that Gypsies are real.
  • Executive Meddling: invokedExplored in-universe, and is in fact the main subject of the show. Each of the three bosses featured on the show, in their own ways, all have the fairly respectable desire for their network to produce original shows and a disrespect for the bandwagon thinking and Lowest Common Denominator appeal seen everywhere in Hollywood. Unfortunately however, they each have their own issues:
    • Merc Lapidus is so crippled by a complete lack of originality himself and a need to get instant gratification in the ratings that he turns every show he gets his hands on into the same bland dross he complains about.
    • Castor Sotto has a slew of mental issues he has more and more trouble keeping a lid on, leading to erratic behavior and random decisions.
    • Helen Basch's apparent competence is quickly offset by her spitefulness and tendency to let her personal feelings interfere with her job.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Every time the Lincolns try to stop Merc and Matt from altering their show, they fail. Even a series cancellation doesn't last very long.
  • Fanservice: Labia's prolonged nude scene. In fact, just about the only part of Labia's anatomy we don't see is, well...
    • It should be noted that it’s the only nude scene over the course the entire series.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Sean and Beverly are trying to write a funny speech about Merc for Matt to read, back in the whiteboard there's a list of thing about Merc that could be funny, they're: Bald; hugs; son in prison.
  • Functional Addict: Possibly Carol. Beverly thinks so, and she jokingly agrees.
  • Hands-On Approach: Sean teaching Beverly to ice-skate. Played For Heartwarming as she'd earlier lamented that what she missed most since they broke up was him holding her.
  • Has a Type: Carol cannot seem to refrain from sleeping with her boss (regardless of said boss's gender).
  • Hidden Depths: Seemingly invoked when we are introduced to Merc's wife, Jamie. She's sweet, charitable, and blind. Everyone's pleasantly surprised, and it seems like there's more to Merc than meets the eye. Five minutes later, we see that Merc gleefully belittles her in public, has been cheating on her for years, and is even more of a slime ball than everyone first thought.
    • Played straight with most other characters, especially Jamie, who, despite being blind has her own affairs, and far more aware of her husband's behavior than she lets on.
    • Matt is a massive tool, but genuinely cares for his kids (or at least tries to). "I'm a terrible husband but an excellent father." He's also fluent in Spanish, and is a skilled cook.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: invokedMatt is criticised by the execs for gaining weight; Sean can't even see a difference.
  • Horrible Hollywood:
  • How We Got Here: Subverted. The show opens to Beverly driving off after an argument with Sean, before crashing into Matt. The subversion comes when the viewer sees the incident which causes the argument, and realises there's still two more episodes.
  • Idiot Ball: After he finally confronts his wife about her affair with Matt and learns he's been fired Merc is being driven home by Carol as she says now they can finally be together. Merc immediately says he can't leave his wife now because without a job, it'll be harder to pay her half his money. Carol finally realizes her dream of being with Merc is just that and drops him off in the rain in a slum neighborhood.
  • I Just Write the Thing: In-universe, Beverly shoots down a suggestion of Matt's character going along on a road trip with his students on the basis that they wouldn't want to go with him. "Yeah, yeah, I could see that... except you're making them up!"
  • Improvised Weapon: Sean and Matt's Wimp Fight escalates into throwing things at each other, and crosses a line when Sean sprays cologne in Matt's face and they take a break to rinse his eyes out.
  • Informed Ability: Sean & Beverley's writing ability and the quality of Lyman's Boys. The bits of Pucks! we see are of varying quality at best, and that can't be entirely the fault of Executive Meddling...
  • Ironic Echo Cut: Merc giving his speech about winning a Man of the Year award at a charity on how great it feels to be supportive while we see workers packing up his office as he's been fired from his job.
  • Jail Bait Wait: Rather creepily implied with Matt and Labia. She'd been stalking him for years by the time he slept with her at eighteen and it's unlikely that she just suddenly turned hot the moment she became legal.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While Matt royally screws Sean and Beverly over by passing on their script after begging them to write it for him in the first place, they ultimately agree with him that it's crap.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Matt, pretty much. He's completely self-centered, doesn't have much of a conscience, and quite often has no clue how terribly he treats people, but he's very amiable and jovial... and in his own way, he does care. Beverly as well, to an extent.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: When Merc is desperately trying to talk his way out of explaining to Carol and Morning why he’s engaged to both. He realizes he’s beat and simply says “I got nothing”. And walks away.
  • Limited Social Circle: Lampshaded - Carol jokes that Beverly "know[s] three people".
  • Limey Goes to Hollywood: An in-universe example, the hook upon which the whole initial premise of Episodes hangs. And since there's Always Someone Better, in the second series they meet an old PA of theirs who's got a successful screenwriting career and has been given a chance to direct a film.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Helen Basch, who gets Carol in on it as well.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: In-universe, how the writers initially try to disguise the planned retool to focus the show less on Matt's character and more on the boys.
  • Mama Bear: Morning is very protective of her 18-year-old daughter.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: Morning frequently gets rather intimate with Sean throughout the first season (somewhat justifying Beverly's paranoia about them), but later claims she never meant anything by it. Then she hooks up with Sean twice in the second season.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Morning and her daughter Dawn.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: Gender-flipped when Matt catches Beverly looking at his member.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Invoked by Beverley word for word after sleeping with Matt.
  • Nobody Poops: Merc insists on having a ratings discussion with Carol while he's sitting on the toilet.
  • Noodle Incident: Myra's pregnancy in Series 4, which is only ever acknowleged by Carol and Andy.
  • No Title: The individual episodes of Episodes. "Episode 1", "Episode 2", etc.
  • Older Than They Look: Apparently Morning was playing grown women on TV in the 1980s and is older than Beverley, who seems to be in her mid-40s.
  • Opinion Flip-Flop: Carol is an expert at this.
    Carol: I head about the heatwave you're having! And they say there's no global warming.
    Exec: There's no global warming.
    Carol: I know, right? Come on, people, it's called "weather"!
  • Poor Communication Kills: Merc and his wife trying to book separate romantic getaways through the same travel agent fall victim to this, along with the agent assuming they're travelling together, and end up booked on a trip together.
  • Previously on…: From Season 2 onwards, this is how every premier episode starts.
  • Put on a Bus: Labia has just one appearance in Season 3 where it's revealed that she's got a boyfriend and finally overcame her infatuation with Matt.
    • Jamie Lapidus leaves Matt when she figures out that he'd cheated on her and never appears again.
  • Raging Stiffie: Castor frequently gets these as a side-effect of his psychosis medication. On one notable occasion, it was prompted by a news broadcast about an earthquake in Peru.
  • Really Gets Around: Matt is...not discerning when it comes to who he sleeps with, whether it's other people's wives or his own stalker.
  • Retool: An In-Universe example. When the Ratings plummet, the execs try to retool it into a teen comedy, focused on the students, to appeal to the loyal Periphery Demographic of adolescent boys.
  • Romantic False Lead: A brother-sister pair of them in Rob and Morning.
  • Running Gag: People taking calls from Merc, only to be put through to his secretary. "Hold for Merc Lapidus..."
  • Second Episode Introduction: Barring a brief appearance in the How We Got Here scene, Matt LeBlanc does not appear in the pilot. He is properly introduced in the second episode.
  • Seven Dirty Words: Sean and Beverly struggle to get around the fact that "you can't say 'cock' on TV here." The conversation throws around several equally-verboten synonyms, clearly revelling in the fact that they're fine on post-Watershed British TV.
    Beverly: Meat missile?
    Sean: Meat... missile.
    Beverly: That's what the nuns called it.
  • Shameful Strip: After a messy breakup, Helen forces Carol to strip to the waist, since she'd borrowed Helen's singlet and sports bra.
  • Shipping Bed Death: Explicitly invoked by Matt in defense of a change in the show's romantic dynamics.
  • Shout-Out: At the funeral for Merc’s father it’s revealed he has a sister named Mindy. So they’re Merc and Mindy.
  • Show Within a Show: Pucks!...followed in season 5 by reality game show "The Box" after Pucks' cancellation.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Matt after sex with Beverly.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Labia, a Loony Fan who's been obsessed with Matt for fifteen years, ever since he took her sick 8-year-old self to Disneyland for Make-A-Wish. Oh right, and he slept with her once. Make that twice.
  • Supreme Chef:
    • Surprisingly, Matt is a really good cook.
    • So is Tim — he's a considerably better cook than showrunner, in fact.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Morning is noticeably more of an airhead in Series 2.
  • The Stoner: Carol at first seems very normal and secure, then reveals later into Series 1 that she is a stoner (seemingly not a light one either as she carries pre-rolled joints in her bag) and shares a smoke with Beverley. From this point onwards, her insecurity and eccentricities aren't hidden as much and she continues to appear less and less well-adjusted each episode.
    Beverly: [As Carol turns up on her doorstep holding two joints] And you claim you don't have a problem.
  • Take Our Word for It: We never see more than a couple of seconds of Lyman's Boys (it looks a lot like The History Boys, Richard Griffiths and all), presumably to avoid potential Humor Dissonance.
  • Talking Animal: Pucks! faces competition from a show about a talking dog which Merc had previously turned down the opportunity to produce.
  • Token Romance: In-universe, one of the changes the executives insist on is the introduction of a Will They or Won't They? plotline between the central character and a Hot Librarian.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: In-universe. Despite the Lincolns' protest, the show Lyman's Boys about a school headmaster is retooled into a show about a hockey coach, called Pucks!.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Matt has apparently become this to the rest of the Friends cast.
  • The Trope without a Title: The hit show in the same time slot as Pucks! is never referred to by name, but always by some variation on "that talking dog show".
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Beverly gives Matt several, but Sean's one to him in the final episode takes the cake.
  • Truth in Television: Anyone watching Episodes and thinking this would never happen? Think again.
  • Viewers Are Morons: Occasionally embodied by the various Meddling Executives;
    Myra: Will people know who Rudyard Kipling is?
    Sean/Beverly: Yes.
    Myra: Are you sure?
    Beverly: Do you know who he is?
    Myra: ...The writer guy?
    Beverly: There you go! See? People aren't as stupid as you might think!
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Beverly and Carol. Sean and Matt (along with Beverly, to an extent) eventually become this when their relationship cools following Matt and Beverly sleeping together.
  • Wacky Americans Have Wacky Names: Sean and Beverly snicker at the names of some of the young actors on the show, like "Stoke". And then there's Labia. And the head of the network, Elliot Salad.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out if the "Other Side of Us" becomes a success or not. Or what Tim’s fate is.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Julian Bullard might be a classically trained actor, but he's not invincible. Convinced that he can do a standard American accent, he reads for Merc adopting what sounds like a mangling of both Cockney and New Yawk accents at war with each other.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Morning, since nobody under the age of 50 remembers her breakout role.
  • Wimp Fight: Sean and Matt have the "vicious but technically inept" kind after Matt sleeps with Beverly.