Plebs’ sense of humour is not exactly sophisticated. You could sum up the jokes in episode three using the words masturbation, piss and cousin fucking. But there’s also some decent wordplay and character humour, and the comic acting from the three leads is good. The writers are starting to build up a fun little world, populated with characters I look forward to seeing – like the landlord, played by the excellent Karl Theobald.
Episode three had a pretty well-worn sitcom set up: Marcus and Grumio switch places, as Marcus becomes the slave for Grumio’s birthday in order to impress Cynthia. There probably isn’t a long-running sitcom in history that hasn’t done the role-switching thing at some point.
The power goes to Grumio’s head, and he starts exploiting Marcus. Meanwhile, Stylax is having sex with his cousin, and starts to realise how much society frowns upon the ‘cousin dozen.’ Ryan Sampson as Grumio will probably get most of the attention for his enjoyable portrayal of the dumb slave, but Joel Fry is really good as well, playing Stylax as a braggadocio with an ego built on sand. He nicely conveys the insecurity in his character. “If we had an audience we would have got a standing ovation,’ his cousin tells him about their sexual relations. ‘See, I’m not sure we would,’ he nervously replies.
Marcus on the other hand is a little bit weak as a character. We’ve seen most of his personality before in other shows like The Inbetweeners, and he’s likely going to spend this whole series chasing Cynthia and being the straight man to Grumio and Stylax. It’s a little bit of a problem if your main character is also the weakest.
The episode ends with Stylax predictably back in bed with his cousin, and Marcus and Grumio have a showdown where they soil each others clothes, to put it politely. The humour can be quite base at times, but lots of great comedies also traffic in toilet humour – Caddyshack for instance, not that I’m in any way comparing the two. It’s a funny enough show, Plebs, and as long as it doesn’t become overly reliant on piss jokes then I’ll keep watching. It’s a show you can drop in on, miss one week and watch the next, and I’m okay with that. So far anyway.
- ‘Who was it?’ ‘A gentleman never tells.’ ‘Was it a gentleman?’ ‘Which gentleman was it?’ ‘Okay, piss off. It was a girl.’
- ‘The royal family do it all the time.’ ‘The royal family are mental. In fact that is why they are mental. They’re incesty sickos.’
- ‘Which one of us got laid last night?’ ‘Well, my family were all out of town, so…’
- ‘Oi, put that back.’ ‘How do I do that?’ ‘Don’t move and keep dripping.’
- ‘My cousin’s been very much beaten with the ugly club.’ ‘Ugly stick.’ ‘In her case it’s very much a club. Although I shouldn’t joke; she is very unhappy.’
- ‘It’s my birthday.’ ‘Well many happy returns, whatever that means.’
- ‘She takes baths in ass milk.’ ‘Pretty sure it’s ass’s milk.’ ‘Yeah that makes sense; I was wondering how you milked an ass.’
- ‘Do you mean a swan?’ ‘That’s it. I want one of those arrogant bastards.’
- ‘I’m eating the cake all wrong.’