What in good heavens are the best Peep Show episodes? An important question, obviously, and more pertinent than ever now that Series 9 of Peep Show is here and the writers, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, have finally decided that these will be the final six adventures for Mark Corrigan and Jeremy Usborne. Forever. Until, of course, they get the band back together for a geriatric reunion special in 2040. And we really want that to happen.
So, yeah, Peep Show, what a marvel it's been over the last 12 years. Mark and Jeremy's exploits straddled our 20s like some comedic facehugger which refused to let go of our guffawing chops. And, by jove, didn't it bloody resonate with us til it hurt?
You see, anyone who's ever stepped foot in that uncertain state known as humanity will know exactly what it's like to go through the whole gamut of finicky and bewildering traits on display in Peep Show. Because, sure, we all want a huge helping of happiness for us, our friends and our families, but, like Mark and Jeremy, we often grind to a halt at that self preservation stage. And it's our intrigue with what happens when you give in to such base, selfish desires that's left us fascinated with Mark and Jeremy's befuddled inner monologues and outrageous external actions.
And what other comedy, nay, tv show, has managed to captivate and thrill us with such a magnificently honest outpouring of comedy and drama? It's left laughter lines on our faces and pathos running through our veins.
All good things must come to an end, though, but rather than carrying out some Stalinist obliteration of our memories, we've decided to immortalise those sublime highs by looking at the 9 best Peep Show episodes!
1. Warring Factions - Series 1 Episode 1
Yes, what better place to start with than the very first episode that kicked off the whole Peep Show saga!
The characters hit the ground at breakneck speed with Jez's wild delusions of grandeur over his abilities as a musician in full flow and Mark's awkwardness with his fellow humans framed perfectly by his undeniably British angst at Sophie unknowingly sitting on his hand. And, over the next 25 minutes, Bain and Armstrong gradually revealed what the series would be about: failed attempts at romance (Mark/Sophie and Jez/Toni), dark humour (can Jez have sex with someone dying of leukemia?) and the curiously confused workings of Super Hans' brain.
And, for us, it also contains one of the funniest Peep Show scenes, namely the closing scene where Mark ferociously charges after some young kids whilst wielding a metal bar and screaming as Sophie watches on in horror from a bus.
Memorable Quote: "I don't want to go to Waitrose! I want a fuckbuddy!" - Mark
2. Nether Zone - Series 7 Episode 4
The best sitcoms always see the main characters stuck together and, no matter how hard they try, Mark and Jeremy appear to be permanently shackled to each other as a result of their dubious actions and mindsets. But in one of the best Peep Show episodes they literally find themselves trapped together in Zahra's flat.
It's the day of Mark's son's christening and all he has to do is go and pick up that reprobate Jeremy from Zahra's flat. Sounds simple and, God knows, it really should be, but this is the El Dude brothers, so naturally they find themselves locked in the lobby of the flat aka the nether zone with no route out.
An intriguing premise, then, but Bain and Armstrong decide to ratchet the tension up to unbearable levels by revealing Zahra and Jeremy slept together the previous night and her boyfriend is on his way round. Oh and there's a disgustingly hilarious moment where Jeremy comes up with a solution to avoid receiving what can only be described as a pissy pizza.
Memorable Quote: "Jeremy, do you think we could take a brief time-out from the masturbate-athon that is your life, to go to my son's christening?" - Mark
3. Seasonal Beatings - Series 7 Episode 5
One of the most exciting elements of this episode is that we finally get to meet Mark's parents and understand just why it is that he's so incredibly flawed. This analysis of Mark's neuroses is masterfully built up to with his ineptness to provide any sense of warmth to Dobby and Jeremy on such an important day. And it's the arrival of Mark's father which helps solve what had, up until now, been an enigmatic 7 series riddle over Mark's 'issues' with society. To put it frankly, his father's a bullying, demeaning arsehole and this has shaped almost all of Mark's foibles.
Mark, however, finally snaps and gives his father a right old dressing down against a backdrop of arguments over whether cauliflower's a traditional Christmas vegetable, Mark's sister tries to have sex with Jeremy and Mark's mother gets drunk and flirts with Super Hans. And the crowning glory sees Mark feeding the Christmas ham through a shredder and declaring the day "Christmark", so how could this not be considered one of the best Peep Show episodes?!
Memorable Quote: "Let's crank up Classic FM! Let's get our Christmas on!" - Jeremy
4. Jeremy Makes It - Series 2 Episode 2
Meeting an old acquaintance from school who's done rather well for themselves is always rather irritating. After all, why should they have all this success from putting in the hard work whilst you while away the days fearing your overdraft due to a lack of motivation. Criminal, ain't it?
And that's exactly what happens in this amazing episode from series 2 of Peep Show. Jeremy, you see, bumps into Gog - the kid everyone bullied at school - and is furious to discover that Gog's doing pretty damn well for himself these days as a producer. Naturally, Jeremy is keen to prove himself as equal to - if not better than - Gog and puts forward his services as musician for a Honda advert Gog's working on.
Meanwhile, Mark has made a new friend, but damn and blast it, only looks like Daryl's a big bloody racist who believes Mark's on his bigoted wavelength. Thing is, Daryl plays a mean Cor Anglais (it's a type of flute thing) and Jeremy, despite being furious that Mark has a new friend, a racist friend, insists Mark remains pals with Daryl to help with the Honda advert
This is one of the best Peep Show episodes as it rigorously highlights Mark and Jeremy's deeply flawed aspirations and hints at a real undercurrent of tragedy running their lives - one that they're far too arrogant to properly address. And, of course, it's rip-roaringly hilarious to boot as we see just how desperate and needy Mark and Jeremy are thanks to some exceptionally sharp writing.
Memorable Quote: "Remember that time we made you wank off Percy's dog for a fiver?" - Jeremy
5. Wedding - Series 4 Episode 6
There's nothing like a wedding. A true celebration of love, commitment and family. Unless you're that mixed up, crazy emotional car crash of a guy named Mark Corrigan.
Because, you know, Mark's finally got the girl of his dreams in the form of Sophie and they're getting married, but, unfortunately, over the course of this series he's started to have crushingly strong feelings that maybe this whole wedding lark ain't for him. Especially with Sophie. Uh oh!
There's no option other than to wriggle out of it, but Mark remains resolutely spineless even when it comes to breaking Sophie's heart. First, he feebly attempts to get himself deliberately run over and, when this fails, he hits upon a plan of trying to guilt Sophie into calling it off due to her having an illicit smooch with Jeremy. Mark is left desperately manic and with only one possible solution. Hiding. In the church rafters. With a 'desperate for the toilet' Jeremy. And an expectant - but dry for now - throng below.
What we love about this episode of Peep Show is the sense of Britishness on show. Mark's overwrought with anxiety and dread, not only because he doesn't want to marry someone he's not in love with, but because everyone's made a bit of a fuss about the big day and he doesn't want to commit the ultimate social faux pas of upsetting them. It makes for some of the series' most hilarious moments and the final shot of Mark in the rear view mirror of his wedding car pondering whether to visit a prostitute is nothing short of heartbreaking genius.
Memorable Quote: "That's it. I've ruined my life! You only get one life and I've ruined mine!"- Mark
6. Sectioning - Series 3 Episode 2
Jeremy's callous, self-centered quest for a shortcut to success was perhaps summed up best in this episode of Peep Show from series 3.
Back in their Dartmouth Uni days, Mark and Jeremy were friends with Merry, a Canadian girl who was always a little bit quirky. And now she's got back in touch, but she seems to have burst through to the other side of the endearingly kooky spectrum where she's teetering on the brink of insanity. The death of Merry's mother has lumbered her not only with mind shattering levels of stress, but also ownership of a pub she can't deal with.
Luckily, Jeremy is on hand to kindly take ownership of the pub from Merry and plans to run it with Super Hans. Unfortunately, they're not able to agree on a name for the pub - Super Hans is hellbent on 'Free the Paedos' - or a focus for it's raison d'etre - Super Hans wants an abandoned washing machine to stay in the bar area. All Jeremy needs to do is get Merry to sign the pub over officially. Problem is, she's just been committed to a mental hospital, but when did common decency and honour ever stand in the way of Jeremy's greedy motives?
Mark, of course, is now officially with Sophie and seems cheerfully content with his lot at last, but then Sophie gets transferred to JLB's Bristol branch and Mark fears this is going throw a spanner into his plans for domestic bliss. And his fears are compounded when Sophie stops returning his calls. Mark, being a reasonable and rational man, decides it's time to stage a mock "oh, well fancy bumping into you here!" meeting with Sophie, but he ain't necessarily going to like what he hears
Series 3 always seemed a little flat to us at the time due to the wild achievements of the first two series, but this particular episode always stood out due to it's portrayal of Jeremy's ruthlessness. He's exposed as a deceitful and exploitative cretin, but nonetheless, you're secretly rooting for him to succeed and front a pub with Super Hans called 'Free the Paedos'. And this emphasizes just how adroit Bain and Armstrong are at crafting simultaneously grotesque and engaging characters.
Memorable Quote: "People like Coldplay and voting for the Nazis. You can't trust people, Jeremy." - Super Hans
7. Spin War - Series 5 Episode 2
However, due to Sophie employing the old 'tears of a scorned bride' routine, the general opinion of Mark at JLB is that he's a real piece of shit. Nonetheless, in the canteen he meets Dobby who's new to this branch of JLB, so is oblivious to the whole wedding scandal. She's a peculiar IT technician, but there's something devastatingly cute about her geekiness plus she seems attracted to Mark. And she proves this attraction with an unbelievably hilarious crotch rubbing scene in the sanctity of the stationary cupboard.
Now, whilst Mark is busy having sexy adventures, Jeremy and Super Hans have become acquainted with Barney - Sophie's easily impressed cousin - who they want to exploit due to his musical wizardry and their lack of talent. However there's a bit of a set to when Barney is forced into saying he would give Super Hans a blowjob over Jeremy if he had to. A gig is planned where Barney's talent is sure to fire them into the limelight, but will Barney come out of the toilet? And why's he locked himself in there?
Spin War is one of the best Peep Show episodes ever as it has our beloved characters sinking to new lows and struggling to navigate their social arenas. And that stationary cupboard scene is, again, one of the funniest things to ever be broadcast in the history of television. David Mitchell isn't necessarily the most physical comedy actor, but in that one scene he managed to convey shock, fear and awe effortlessly and Isy Suttie's gleeful smile juxtaposed this just perfectly.
Memorable Quote: "I win because they all think I pissed myself, when they have no idea I came all in my pants!" - Mark
8. Jeremy's Mummy - Series 5 Episode 4
Jeremy's great aunt has died, so with his mother getting £40,000 he's guaranteed to get half of this as that's what his old dear promised him. Overjoyed at the thought of becoming a "millionaire", Jeremy is clearing out his great aunt's belongings when he happens across a gun which he takes and affectionately names 'gunny'. However, at the funeral, Jeremy's mother reveals that the great aunt's estate will be a lot less than she thought , so Jeremy won't get a penny. Jeremy flies into a toddler like rage and blames his mother's new boyfriend, Martin, for this.
Now, Martin is a seasoned military chap and wants to publish his memoirs, so Mark, enamoured by Martin's background jumps at the chance to work on it. His first task is to interview Martin's daughter, Natalie, about her father and Martin soon gets the impression that she's a lesbian. However, he later wakes up to find Natalie having sex with him despite his protests to stop. Has he been raped?
Jeremy plants gunny in Martin's luggage in an attempt to stitch him up and get him right out the picture, but when this fails to work he reveals that Natalie raped Mark. And, as ever, Jeremy and Mark lose everything.
This is another episode which highlights just how well formed and three dimensional Mark and Jeremy are. They're both determined to be happy, but through a mixture of their own stupidity and selfishness they manage to hoist themselves by their own petard. And, sure, Mark gets raped and rape isn't funny, but Armstrong and Bain allow Mark's propensity for refusing to cause a fuss at the expense of his memoirs job allow the comedy to transcend any conceivable taboo.
Memorable Quote: "It wasn't rape, alright? It was just a minor sexual assault. She didn't force anything up my bum - that's why it's not rape" - Mark
9. Mark Makes a Friend - Series 1 Episode 4
Mark's at a business conference with his fellow JLB employees learning all about customer service and how to close those oh so important deals. Leading the conference is a hard nosed, straight talking businessman, Alan Johnson, who likes nothing more than getting to grips with a spreadsheet and the gentle natured melodies of the Lighthouse Family.
Mark, obviously, is instantly smitten with Johnson's business drive and ambition, so Jeremy, naturally, feels his inherent jealousy rising as MARK IS HIS FRIEND! Mark and Johnson decide to go into business together, but for Mark it's beginning to feel more like love, so due to his confusion he rents a gay porn film. He struggles to watch it, but he's still not sure if he loves Johnson as just a businessman or a hip thrusting, shoulder rubbing kind of guy.
Jeremy's seething jealously makes him, once again, vengeful and determined to undermine Mark's potential happiness, so Jeremy's struggle to cope on his own is thrust to the fore again whilst Mark's incompetence for dealing with his feelings acts as his Achilles heel and would be repeated time and time again across the series.
Memorable Quote: "What I mean is that they should be more honest. I mean, at least Tony Adams from the IRA, he's like "Yeah, I shoot people, I like shooting people!" I mean, if they were more honest, then maybe people would vote and not switch straight over when the news comes on." - Jeremy
What on Earth do you consider to be the best Peep Show episodes?! Let us know in the comments below!