Time and time again, the El Dude Brothers find ways to ruin their lives in their pursuit of love, money, and stability. If Mark ends a season on a high, it usually follows with Jez ending the series on a low. Occasionally, both flatmates will suffer equally, but Peep Show has an ebb and flow that always keeps the series fresh.
That said, no show is without sin and Peep Show is no exception. While no season is outright bad, some are very clearly worse than others. Never on a whole, but always due to a few episodes dragging things down. With only six episodes per season, a single bad episode really can make a difference. Even at their worst, though, it’s also worth checking in on Mark and Jez every so often.
9 Series 8
Series 8 is arguably where Peep Show is at its most unfocuses. While the Dobby plot is at its tipping point, there’s a noticeable amount of focus given the storyline compared to the climax of the Sophie plot. Where the show once knew to let the romantic arcs gradually develop in the background, Dobby’s baggage is displayed for all to see.
Watching Mark and Dobby completely fizzle out is uncomfortable in all the right ways, but most episodes just aren’t all that funny. There’s one particular highlight with “Business Secrets of the Pharaohs,” but most of the season becomes a wash as soon as Jez “realizes” he’s in love with Dobby.
8 Series 5
Series 5 has the misfortune of directly following the amazing Series 4 while also starting to push Sophie into the story’s background. The first half also isn’t nearly as strong as it should be. While it introduces the concept of “The One” well enough, the women in Mark’s life don’t really become interesting until Natalie is introduced in episode 4.
From there, Series 5 kicks into high gear and culminates into one of the series’ funniest finales. Unfortunately, for as strong as Series 5 ends, that first half is hard to ignore. It’s Mark arguably at his lowest and there’s very little endearing about his misguided attempts to find love until he’s the victim. Even then, characters like Saz take things to an extreme.
7 Series 7
Series 7 is a lot like Series 5 in that it’s a season that follows up a much stronger predecessors. Series 7 not only has to deal with Mark being a new father, Jez is in a love triangle, and the Dobby plot had entered something of a love square. Characters like Sophie, Jeff, and Johnson may as well not exist at this point either.
Even then, though, Series 7 has some of the funniest episodes in the series and it manages to overcome its very weak plotting. Of the nine seasons, it probably has the worst story in terms of what’s actually happening over the course of the season, but it’s hilariously executed and ends on two fantastic episodes.
6 Series 1
The season that started it all, Peep Show has a far more grounded tone in Series 1. It wants to be realer than it ultimately is at first. While this can create some tonal issues when looking back at the series from a much further perspective, Series 1 is still a great episode of television with some outstanding cringe comedy.
There’s a simplicity to Series 1 that keeps everything so sweet as well. Peep Show doesn’t try to overdo itself. It understands its limitations, knows how to work around them, and refines the humor so every detail is appropriately sharp.
5 Series 2
The shift from Series 1 to Series 2 is subtle, but it’s important. Peep Show allows itself to let a little loose. Mark and Jez are a bit more unhinged, Jez especially. Both actors are easing into their roles and both characters are easing into their personality. Series 2 is Peep Show really coming into its own.
The Mark/Sophie/Jeff love triangle is in full force with Mark losing up until the very end, Nancy plays Jez’s love interest and is certifiably insane, and Series 2 just ups the episode to episode variety. Mark meets April in Series 2 and spends almost the entire episode trying to court her only to try to use it as a means to spite Sophie.
4 Series 9
Very few shows can have their worst season, take a years long break, and then come back with a top five season. Series 9 may not be Peep Show’s best season, but it’s an incredible note to end the series on. It captures the essence of Peep Show without pandering to nostalgia or getting too caught up in fan service.
April’s return may be convenient, but she’s the perfect love interest for Mark to end the series on. Jez exploring his sexuality in full also marks a mature last minute pivot for his character that opens the door for more comedy at the same time. The ending is appropriately Peep Show, bringing the El Dude Brother right back to where they began.
3 Series 6
Series 6 often gets overlooked because it’s right in the middle of the Dobbie years, but it’s Peep Show proving that it knew there was gold to be tapped in switching Mark’s life around. He’s no longer at JLB, he’s no longer in a position of power, and his life is beginning to become aimless. It opens the door for great comedy while naturally building off Series 5.
Jez spends the season paired off with Elena and she’s far and away Jez’s funniest love interest. Dumb and in a long time relationship, Elena breaks Jez’s character down to pieces. All the while, Sophie is pregnant in the background, briefly unaware of who the father is.
2 Series 3
The shift in quality from Series 1 to Series 2 is impressive, but the skyrocket in quality from Series 2 to Series 3 is downright breathtaking. Mark is in a committed relationship with Sophie— one that fizzles as they realize they don’t like each other— and Jez is trying to desperately win back his former girlfriend and toilet seat namesake, Big Suze.
Series 3 introduces Big Suze, Big Mad Andy, and Mark’s sister, Sarah, all of which end up becoming some of Peep Show’s best recurring characters. Series 3 also sees Jez at jury duty and Mark trying to propose to Sophie at the Quantocks only to decide not to propose only to propose on accident. A perfect ending to Series 3.
1 Series 4
Of course, Series 4 tops that immediately. Mark and Sophie are engaged and actively preparing for their wedding in the season finale. There’s a natural, gradual build up to the wedding and everything that happens between exists both to service the characters and the humor. Peep Show’s writing staff is at its absolute best. Jez even eats a dog.
While Mark is readying to marry Sophie, Series 4 also reintroduces Nancy as Jez’s love interest, almost giving the impression that everything could work out for the El Dude Brothers in the end. They don’t, of course, but it helps give Series 4 a feeling of finality. Given it closed out the Sophie story arc, that’s perhaps only natural.