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There’s a little bit of all of us in Peep Show’s Mark Corrigan. He struggles to maintain stable relationships with anyone, he has niche interests, and every social situation seems to make him miserable. In our own way, we can all relate. Mark is like Britain’s answer to Seinfeld’s George Costanza.
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Co-creator Sam Bain has even said, “There’s probably a bit of George Costanza’s DNA in Mark Corrigan.” All nine seasons of Peep Show are available to binge-watch on Amazon Prime in the U.S. (and it’s highly recommended – it’s one of the most underrated sitcoms of the 21st century). Anyway, here are Mark’s 10 Most Curmudgeonly Quotes.
When Jez gets a job working at Mark’s gym, he feels like he’s crossed over from one social circle into another. The way he sees it, he should be up in the ivory tower of the juice bar with Mark, but he’s been pushed into a lower social stratum.
He thinks that the other staff members at the gym are all poverty-stricken, just because he’s seen them eating sandwiches that they made themselves at home instead of buying them at a supermarket. As Mark points out, “Making your own sandwiches is not an indication of a gritty life on the never-never.”
9 “I don’t want to wake up dribbling in a phone box with a trucker’s p**** in my ear!”
This is Mark’s rationalization for not taking ecstasy when everyone else does at the club. He was hoping to have a quiet night in with Sophie, making some chicken and watching a couple of DVDs, but she had a different idea: going out clubbing and popping a few pills.
Mark is given one of the pills and pretends to take it, even though he chickens out and tosses it, so he has to ask Jeremy for advice on how to look like he’s actually high. Jez explains to him that he’d be more likely to lose his sense of self than wake up dribbling in a phone box with a trucker’s penis in his ear.
In the season 2 premiere episode “Dance Class,” Mark tries to show Sophie that he can be just as free-spirited and adventurous as her by joining her at a hippie dance class called Rainbow Rhythms.
However, when he gets there, he finds that he absolutely hates it, and the only way for him to look as wild and free as all the actual hippies that are there, he has to ingratiate himself like Louis Theroux: “To act relaxed, it’ll take all my cunning, skill, and concentration.” And he finds that being a hippie is pretty easy, which is why there are so many of them.
7 “Not really loving her kind of puts me in a position of power.”
The season 4 arc of Peep Show follows on from the season 3 finale’s cliffhanger ending. Mark had taken Sophie to the Quantocks to propose to her and realized he didn’t actually love her or want to marry her. However, before he could ditch the plan, she found the ring in his bag and accepted the proposal he’d decided not to make.
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So, season 4 sees the couple planning their wedding. The twist here, which differentiates it from most marriage storylines in sitcoms, is that we know Mark doesn’t really want to marry Sophie. And he sees this as “a position of power.”
In the season 6 finale episode “Das Boot,” Jez goes through a bit of a personal crisis as he grapples with the fact that he might have consciously tried to kill Gail and the possibility of losing Elena as her wedding and her move to Quebec are both fast approaching.
However, he gets a semblance of hope when Elena sends him a text on the morning of the wedding with some kisses at the end. He convinces himself that this means he still has a chance with her, although Mark warns him that text kisses don’t equate to real kisses.
5 “Hitler promised not to invade Czechoslovakia, Jeremy. Welcome to the real world.”
While a lot of Jez’s references come from the worlds of pop music and reality TV, Mark’s references come from the worlds of politics and history. When Jez points out to Mark that he broke a promise he made to him, Mark reminds Jez of a promise that Hitler once made and then subsequently broke.
He has a point, although he does go about it by comparing himself to Hitler. His point, really, boils down to: yes, he did something wrong, but at least he’s no worse than Hitler. Then again, Mark’s promise didn’t have the same devastating stakes as Hitler’s, so it’s an apples-and-oranges situation.
Mark thinks that every woman he ever meets is “the one” and he blames every unfortunate thing that ever happens in his life on fate. When he gets a job as a bathroom salesman, he starts working alongside Super Hans.
However, later in his tenure at Baths, Bathrooms, and Fittings (before he and Jez swindle a client and he gets fired), Hans is promoted, so he technically becomes Mark’s boss. When Mark realizes that Hans – the snake-obsessed amateur techno musician that he once referred to as “a crack-addled maniac” – is now his superior, he tells fate, “Don’t fist me again.”
3 “I suppose doing things you hate is just the price you pay to avoid loneliness.”
There’s nothing that Mark wants more than to be considered a normal member of society. But he doesn’t want to actually socialize with people or go to parties or go on dates. He wants to be a guy who does those things, but he doesn’t actually enjoy them.
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When he finally becomes Sophie’s boyfriend after years of rivalry with Jeff, he finds that he has to go to places like fairgrounds and coffee shops in order to maintain his relationship and not be left crushed and alone. Doing things that you hate to avoid loneliness seems like a fair compromise.
When Mark gets the opportunity to try out for his dream job – giving walks around London to tell tourists about the local history and have plenty of time to visit museums and pubs in between them – he doesn’t want to sell out.
Jez and Dobby tell him he should wear a deerstalker hat or smoke a pipe to get the crowd going with some Sherlock Holmes schtick, but he doesn’t want to do it. In the end, he relents and smokes a pipe at the end of the talk. He also grits his teeth and allows a part of himself to die as he misquotes Holmes: “It’s elementary.”
1 “Butter the toast. Eat the toast. S*** the toast. God, life’s relentless.”
The smallest thing can irritate Mark Corrigan. If he gets out of bed, goes to the kitchen, and makes himself some toast for breakfast, even that can irritate him if he overthinks it. Just buttering the toast, he realizes all the things he has to do with the toast.
First, he has to butter it. Then, he has to eat it. Then, he has to, y’know, pass it. When does it end? A simple piece of toast has turned into three chores. Life really is relentless. Mark likes to have two slices of toast: brown bread for his main course and white bread for his dessert.
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Ben Sherlock is a writer, comedian, and independent filmmaker. He writes lists for Screen Rant and features and reviews for Game Rant, covering Mando, Melville, Mad Max, and more. He"s currently in pre-production on his first feature film, and has been for a while because filmmaking is expensive. In the meantime, he"s also in pre-production on various short films. Previously, he wrote for Taste of Cinema, Comic Book Resources, and BabbleTop. You can catch him performing standup at odd pubs around the UK that will give him stage time.