My favorite thing about Netflix is that it enables you not only to watch films you’ve never seen, many of them obscure, independent or otherwise relatively unknown films but nevertheless worthwhile, but also television series that aren’t available anywhere else. Maybe you always wanted to watch a particular show but missed the first season or two and didn’t want to come in without the back story. Maybe it’s a show that aired originally in another country and hasn’t been shown on American stations. Maybe it was cancelled before you had a chance to catch on. In all of these situations (and many more), Netflix provides for you a venue on which to watch any (and nearly every) TV show you ever cared to. Or didn’t. In which case, allow me to recommend to you: Spaced.
This TV series of British origin aired on BBC between 1999-2001. Starring Simon Pegg (a few years before Shaun Of The Dead put him on the American map) and Jessica Hynes, both of whom wrote every one of the series’ 14 episodes. The pilot begins in London with Tim (Pegg) getting dumped by his girlfriend and Daisy (Hynes) searching for an affordable flat. They meet in a diner and discover they are in similar situations, both in need of a nice but cheap place to live. A friendship blossoms and they decide to live together as roommates, but pretend to be a couple so their landlord (the wonderful Julia Deakin) won’t kick them out. A reasonable amount of sexual tension develops but the laughs from landlord Marsha, neighbor Brian and Tim’s friend Mike (played by – you guessed it – Nick Frost) are what hook you in the first season. The second (and sadly, final) season further develops each and every character and their charming and often hilarious relationships with each other.
It’s appropriately called Spaced because both Tim and Daisy have some trouble with adulthood. They drink too much, party too much and work intermittently, preferring instead to procrastinate and play video games. I’ve been a fan of Simon Pegg since Shaun Of The Dead and the greatly under-appreciated Hot Fuzz but it wasn’t until I’d seen this strangely delightful series that I developed a bizarre but rather intense crush on him. Spaced is funny and sweet and, at times, very heartwarming. But more than that, it’s written for fans just a bit outside the mainstream. (Or, outside of America’s mainstream. I suspect the Brits have a more ironic sense of humor.) References to Star Wars, The Matrix, The Evil Dead, and Taxi Driver abound. One episode in season 2 is a fantastic homage to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. This is a show that didn’t just happen to become a cult hit. It was made for nerds like me who understood and enjoyed these references to other cult classics.
Not to mention, it was written by British writers, starred British actors and was set in London. All of you know how much Annie and I adore British culture. (Need I mention our devotion to a certain British comedian? Didn’t think so.) (I’ve even recently added spending a year or two living in England to my ever-growing bucket list.) And it’s shows like Spaced (and actors/writers like Pegg) who convince me that those wry Brits know a thing or two about comedy. And irony. And storytelling. And romance. And, well, everything, actually.