TV series review: Plebs, series 1 (ITV2, 2013)
Described as “The Inbetweeners in ancient Rome”, Plebs is perhaps not the most historically accurate show about ancient Rome, but then, it’s only there as a backdrop for very modern comedy.
Marcus (Tom Rosenthal) and Stylax (Joel Fry) are workmates and flatmates, along with Marcus’s slave, Grumio (Ryan Sampson). Marcus is your average guy, who wants to find the Right One, although he’s not against going to orgies if he’s invited. Stylax has a very active sex life – some might even say hyperactive. If you look up “deadpan” in the dictionary, it ought to show you a picture of Grumio. He’s not the most efficient of slaves, far from it, and he’s not the sharpest chisel in the toolbox, but he still gets on alright, somehow.
Stylax and Marcus work in your average office, where they poke fun at waterboy Aurelius (Tom Basden), and try to get in boss Flavia’s (Doon Mackichan) good books. Sorry, “scrolls”. There’s the bloke in charge of the internal messaging, Claudius (Adrian Scarborough), who gets some very questionable requests to put in the office newsletter.
When a couple of Briton girls move in next door, Marcus instantly falls in love with the beautiful Cynthia (Sophie Colquhoun). Cynthia’s slave Metella (Lydia Rose Bewley) is less naive, and suffice it to say isn’t too keen on their new neighbours.
Also starring Karl Theobald as the landlord, and guest starring people like Danny Dyer (in little to no clothing, I might add – memorable episode).
While the ska soundtrack is a little peculiar, it seems to fit very well with the show. A show that is sure to divide opinion. Plebs is the sort of thing you’re either going to love or hate. Love because it’s often laugh-out-loud hilarious, or hate because the whole concept of taking a modern sitcom and plonking it in ancient Rome to let hilarity ensue is utterly abhorrent or “just doesn’t work”.
Personally, I thought it worked a treat. You don’t often get to see comedy shows set in the Roman era. You could even say that Plebs make you realise that the Romans were perhaps a little more than just toga-clad drunkards, and that our modern society perhaps isn’t so modern after all. What’s there to say similar attitudes didn’t exist back then? Oh heck, I’m over-analysing it.
I just found it to be a very, very funny show. You wouldn’t want Grumio as your slave, because he’s fairly useless at it, but he cracked me up every time. Flavia has more sides to her than a d20, each more surprising than the next, and the laid back, negligent landlord … well, you probably shouldn’t trust him.
The name was actually thought of way before “Plebgate“, I read in an interview somewhere, but considering it came out after, hey, free publicity. There’s a second series in development too, so that’s good news. I can’t wait for this show to come back, it was brilliant.
4.8 out of 5 bananas.