Peep Show, my favourite TV comedy, is to be adapted for audiences in the United States. And what should be an exciting prospect, is something I'm instead meeting with a sentimental sigh and the thought: "Here we go again..."
In 2005 an American pilot for Peep Show was created, in which The Big Bang Theory's Johnny Galecki was cast as socially awkward hero Mark Corrigan. The most notable thing about this was the absence of the point-of-view camera shots that made Peep Show so fresh and exciting in the first place, a decision that I fear will find its way into its newest American incarnation.
Eli Jorne, the executive producer who will be writing all the episodes of this fresh attempt to 'bring' Peep Show to the States has said: "I'm grateful to Sam [Bain] and Jesse [Armstrong] for entrusting me with nine seasons' worth of insightful, darkly hilarious material that I can hopefully pass off to American audiences as my own." - This to me is baffling. Why is there a need to 'pass off' an award winning series? McDonald's didn't have to 'pass off' the Big Mac to me.
Fans of The IT Crowd will understand my fears, and reel in horror as they remember the American pilot for that, which had the same set, the same script and the same world renowned sex icon Richard Ayoade as Maurice Moss, but replaced the character of Roy with the clean, stereotypically beautiful Joel McHale - a far cry from the lovable, strangely alluring and average employee that Chris O'Dowd had played so perfectly. I also haven't forgotten the infamous "bus turds" rewrite from the American version of The Inbetweeners.
It's an insult that studios charged with these shows believe that American audiences are so closed-minded that they can't possibly relate to characters that are not also American. I remember watching Parks and Recreation and connecting with virtually every main character in one way or another, I didn't need Jack Dee to grow a stellar moustache and play Ron Swanson in order to empathise with the character that Nick Offerman brought to life, so why should it be the case the other way around? Would I want Sarah Millican to play Leslie? Knope. So then why is it necessary to have anyone else play Mark and Jeremy other than David Mitchell and Robert Webb, American or otherwise?
I also wonder how some of the scenes in Peep Show will translate across the pond. It feels strange to even write about the episode where Jeremy eats a dog he's accidentally killed, before professing to its owner that it's 'just turkey!' because he wants to sleep with her, never mind discussing how to put that on screen for a second time. I also doubt that there's anyone who can portray crack addled maniac Super Hans - the same Super Hans who had The Shamen's 1991 smash hit Move Any Mountain as his wedding vows - and do it justice the way Matt King does.
America's brand of comedy has, for the most part, always worked here in the UK, so why do we feel the need to repackage our favourite shows and warp them into something that they're not before sending them Stateside? It does feel sometimes that the USA is where great British TV comedy goes to die.
Maybe there are reasons for it that I just can't understand, but I do know that in the age of the internet, platforms like Netflix have made things more accessible than ever. I've seen countless comments on YouTube videos of Peep Show, from people outside the UK citing their love for the dark British brand of humour that it provides.
To be honest, my ultimate fear is that this iteration of Peep Show will be rejected by the American people, I can't see it getting past the first series. As a result of this they will tar the source material with the same brush, and never truly know if they are more of a Mark Corrigan or a Jeremy Usborne, nor will they have a plethora of timeless quotes to apply to their lives. Which I think is a real shame.Suggest a correction