Two awkward sitcoms, one review! How are these two shows shaping up in their third and eighth years?
At the moment, and for two more Sundays, we are blessed with two awkward Sunday night comedies about people sharing flats – Peep Show and Him & Her, obviously. They don’t have much in common beyond that, I admit, but it’s enough to hang a review on. We’re four episodes into the third series of Him & Her, and two into Peep Show’s amazing eighth year. So both big runs by UK sitcom standards – how are they coping with longevity?
You can catch up with Him & Her on BBC iPlayer and Peep Show on 4OD, where they’re ridiculously giving out all eight series for free. So that’s worth checking out.
Him & Him & Her & Shame
Both shows are pushing the situation of their comedy forward this year, with Him & Her’s Steve (Russell Tovey) trying again and again to propose to his beloved Becky (Sarah Solemani), whereas over in Peep Show towers, flatmates Mark and Jeremy (David Mitchell and Robert Webb) are dangerously close to being seperated, after Mark’s girlfriend Dobby (Isy Sutie) agrees to move in with him, for some reason. So the wafting guff of change is in the air, as often happens when a series lasts a few years and gets restless
But I’ll stop comparing them soon, because they aren’t that similar. Peep Show, after all, has threatened change before, and everything always reverted. More to the point, that show is a purebred comedy, milking the sad lives of our “heroes” for laughs and nothing more. Yes, it’s fun when they get a small victory, because we can’t help but support the underdog, even though they’re oft-loathsome people. (I genuinely wonder if David Mitchell started growing a beard for appearances outside of Peep Show because he can’t cope with people thinking he is Mark any longer.) Still, things will eventually fall apart, because that is funnier.
As many before me have said in the press, Peep Show is doing an impressive job keeping the quality up after eight years. The rhythm is the same, Mitchell and Webb play off each other like a clunking yet effective machine, and the fact you know where it’s going doesn’t matter as long as it’s still funny. Maybe this ain’t the golden age of the El Dude Brothers – somewhere in series 3-6, in my esteemed opinion – but fuck it, it’s still funny and compelling, I see no reason to bay for blood yet. We’ll see how the rest of the series works out.
Sadly, over in Him & Her, I am more conflicted. Long-term [email protected] readers will know I love that show, I wrote a masturbatory ode to it when series two finished, but after four episodes of series three, I’m… not feeling it quite as much. Still chucklesome moments each week, but the pleasant happiness I used to get simply isn’t there, perhaps because the focus has shifted from the couple as a whole to Steve and his failed attempts to propose.
Not that I don’t love Steve, and Russell Tovey in general, but we’ve seen comical proposal attempts before on television, and instead of being charming and off-centre, it makes Him & Her seem more like a standard rom-com. And, to be honest, dragging this storyline out over the whole series is a bit much too. Weirdly, I’m more intrigued by the storyline of Obnoxious Laura and Crazy Paul, whose misery has been front and centre of late. Still, I have a lot of affection for Steve and Becky, so when he finally pops the question, probably in the final episode of the year, odds are good I’ll feel a warm glow. (No, that wasn’t a wetting myself joke.)
A mixed write-up for Him & Her, then, but between this, Peep Show and Homeland, Sundays are still the best night to watch TV, really. So, how are you finding these shows? Awkward… in a good way? Tell us below, we rarely bite.
Him & Her airs Sundays on BBC Three at 10PM, more information on the BBC official site. Peep Show also airs at 10PM Sundays on Channel 4, here is the official site for that. I recommend watching Peep Show on 4+1.
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