Mark and Jez may once have cooked and eaten a dog, but they never crowned a Neo-fascist President of the USA. That’s more the kind of thing Super Hans would do anyway, on a weekend bender. Matt King’s legendary Peep Show character is Jez’s former bandmate in Various Artists (alternately Danny Dyer’s Chocolate Homunculus, to name just one variant). Hans is a hedonist with a bottomless appetite for drugs and chaos, who could deliver pretty much any of Kendall Roy’s lines in Succession without anybody noticing the difference, and vice versa, from “carpe the fucking diem” and “sweaty spaghetti” to the one about having his rental snake dry-cleaned.
You could say the same for Succession’s Cousin Greg whose hesitant, clause-filled, prodding around in the conversational dirt is pure Mark Corrigan. (Read this in David Mitchell’s voice: “Do you think it’s possible to sue a person, like a grandparent, in an affectionate way? Like, I love you, I’m glad you’re part of my life, but I am taking legal action against you.”) See Greg the Egg repeatedly call a girl he’s trying to chat up “fair maiden” in a faux southern genteel accent and the afterburn of Mark won’t shift.
Try it: a little ‘who said it?’ quote quiz – Peep Show or Succession? (Answers below)
1. What the fuck is this obsession with milk? You know who drinks milk? Kittens and perverts.
2. You don’t hear much about syphilis these days. Very much the Myspace of STDs.
3. Should we get married? Not that, like an equivalent thing, like I abduct you and force you to live with me.
4. He ate my fucking chicken. What’s next? Stick his cock in my potato salad?
5. You realise that tinned food is just for crackheads and wars.
6. I wonder if anyone has ever been this unhappy while drinking champagne.
7. Looking at porn is like lying to Parliament. It used to be wrong but now it’s all a big laugh.
8. I’m just a normal, functioning member of the human race and there’s no way anyone can prove otherwise.
9. On the count of three, the last piggy to eat a sausage is the mole.
10. People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis, you can’t trust people.
There’s more overlap too, in the ambivalent marriages of Shiv, Tom and Mark and Sophie (Olivia Colman, Oscar-winner fans), in the rainbow of inventive insults, in how close the characters always are to explosive anger, in their venal self-interest, in their bathetic inarticulacy when confronted with life’s big moments, in their ruinous insecurity and astronomical ego.
We could think of Succession and Peep Show as two different paths – one paved with Carrara marble, the other strewn with empty Monster Munch packets – leading to the same destination. They both made us care about horrid, pathetic characters, both made us laugh, and both showed us that no matter what the outside looks like, on the inside, we’re all just exactly as small as each other.