'Paranoia, paranoia, everybody's coming to get me': Peep Show, sitcom, and the surveillance society

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Abstract

This essay examines the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show. The programme employs an innovative shooting style in which the audience is aligned with the characters' points-of-view, and also has access to the inner thoughts of its main protagonists. It is argued that in distinguishing between social action and unrestrained subconscious thoughts the programme demonstrates the effects of social norms on behaviour. This idea is related to Foucault's notion of the panopticon, in which surveillance becomes an everyday aspect of contemporary living. The essay also shows how the particularities of the sitcom genre have always been about issues of looking and surveillance, and that the shooting style adopted by Peep Show may call the traditional audience positions offered by sitcoms into question.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-64
Number of pages14
JournalScreen
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008

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