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Sean and Beverly Lincoln (Mangan and Greig) star as a husband and wife writing team from London who have just won two more BAFTAs for their critically acclaimed show Lyman's Boys. At the ceremony, they meet the American television executive Merc Lapidus, who claims to love their show, and offers them the opportunity to produce an American remake. Without any second thoughts, the couple packs their bags and heads to LA.
However, upon arrival, they realize everything is not like they imagined. Not only it turns out that Merc has never seen Lyman's Boys, but he also wants to use the American remake as a comeback vehicle for Matt LeBlanc, and is ready to Retool the show to meet any of Matt's demands.
And so, the couple of writers loses all creative control over the remake of their own brainchild to an executive who never saw their show, and an actor with the biggest ego they ever faced.
A lot of the tropes listed below would normally go to the Trivia or YMMV page, if only they didn't happen in-universe and weren't a major focus of the show.
The show contains examples of:
- Actor Allusion: Possibly just a coincidence, but in the season finale, one was made towards Stephen Mangan.
- Adam Westing: Matt LeBlanc.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Matt and Beverly.
- Biggus Dickus: Matt LeBlanc claims to have one in episode 3. Sean doesn't deny it.
- Bilingual Bonus: In episode 4, Matt makes fun of Beverly with the Lincolns' cleaning lady. In Spanish.
- Black Comedy Rape: Matt, at a Rape Awareness Benefit.
- Blatant Lies: Pretty much most of what Merc says to Sean & Beverley.
- Breakout Character: In-universe, Stoke.
- British Brevity: The show had seven episodes in its first season, and will have nine episodes in its second.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Merc's reaction when he thinks a travel agent has let his wife know about his plan to take Coral on a trip.
- Conversational Troping: A conversation between Matt and Sean addresses British Brevity in episode 3. In series 2, Beverly is gobsmacked that the 'young' actors in 'Pucks' are in all their 20s or older, a reference to Dawson Casting
- Creator Backlash: Beverly openly states in the fourth episode that she hates what their show was turned into.
- Downtime Downgrade: Justified by Beverly's infidelity.
- Dude, Not Funny: In-universe;
- At a party, Merc's blind wife is talking about the charity she works with, whilst Merc is miming apologies before pretending to kill himself, thinking he's actually being pretty funny. Everyone else at the table is just looking around awkwardly.
- Matt makes rape jokes... Whilst at a Rape Awareness Benefit.
- Embarrassing Nickname: "Betsy" for Beverly.
- Excited Show Title: Pucks! Lampshaded by Sean.
- Executive Meddling: This is the main subject of the show.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Every time the Lincolns try to stop Merc and Matt from altering their show, they fail.
- Functional Addict: Possibly Carol. Beverly thinks so, and she jokingly agrees.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: There's a lot of cheating and counter-cheating going on;
- Beverly cheats on Sean mistakenly thinking he'd cheated on her with Morning, and they break up when he finds out. While they're separated, he does sleep with Morning, but feels guilty about it and tries to keep it a secret.
- Herc and his wife frequently cheat on each other. He seems to be unaware of hers, but she knows about his.
- Hands-On Approach: Sean teaching Beverly to skate. Played For Heartwarming as she'd earlier lamented that she missed him holding her.
- Henpecked Husband: The weak-willed and gentle Sean is often seen as this compared to his stern wife.
- Hidden Depths: Seemingly invoked when we are introduced to Merc's wife, Jamie. She's sweet, charitable, and blind. Everyone's pleasantly surprised, and it seems like there's more to Merc than meets the eye. Five minutes later, we see that Merc gleefully belittles her in public, has been cheating on her for years, and is even more of a slime ball than everyone first thought.
- Played straight with most other characters, especially Jamie, who, despite being blind has her own affairs, too.
- Matt is a massive tool, but genuinely cares for his kids. "I'm a terrible husband but an excellent father."
- How We Got Here: Subverted. The show opens to Beverly driving off after an argument with Sean, before crashing into Matt. The subversion comes when the viewer sees the incident which causes the argument, and realises there's still two more episodes.
- Improvised Weapon: Sean and Matt's Wimp Fight escalates into throwing things at each other, and crosses a line when Sean sprays cologne in Matt's face and they take a break to rinse his eyes out.
- Informed Ability: Sean & Beverley's writing ability & the quality of Lyman's Boys. The bits of Pucks we see are of varying quality at best, and that can't be entirely the fault of Executive Meddling...
- Jail Bait Wait: Rather creepily implied with Matt and Labia. She'd been stalking him for years by the time he slept with her at eighteen.
- Limited Soscial Circle: Lampshaded - Carol jokes that Beverly "know[s] three people".
- Limey Goes to Hollywood: An in-universe example, the hook upon which the whole initial premise of Episodes hangs. And since there's Always Someone Better, in the second series they meet an old PA of theirs who's got a successful screenwriting career and has been given a chance to direct a film.
- Lower Deck Episode: How the writers initially try to disguise the planned Retool to focus the show less on Matt's character and more on the boys.
- No Title: The individual episodes of Episodes. "Episode 1", "Episode 2", etc.
- "On the Next...": Episodes is a rare example of a modern show playing it straight.
- Poor Communication Kills: Merc and his wife trying to book separate romantic getaways through the same travel agent fall victim to this, along with the agent assuming they're travelling together, and end up booked on a trip together.
- "Previously On...": As above
- Retool: When the Ratings plummet, the execs try to retool it into a teen comedy, focused on the students, to appeal to the loyal Periphery Demographic of adolescent boys.
- Show Within a Show: Pucks!
- Stalker with a Crush: Labia, a Loony Fan who's been obsessed with Matt for fifteen years, ever since he took her sick 8-year-old self to Disneyland for Make-A-Wish. Oh right, and he slept with her once.
- The Stoner: Carol at first seems very normal and secure, then reveals later into Series 1 that she is a stoner (seemingly not a light one either as she carries pre-rolled joints in her bag) and shares a smoke with Beverley. From this point onwards, her insecurity and eccentricities aren't hidden as much and she continues to appear less and less well-adjusted each episode.
Beverly: [As Carol turns up on her doorstep holding two joints] And you claim you don't have a problem.
Carol: Who said I don't have a problem?
- There Are No Good Executives: Merc Lapidus.
- Token Romance: One of the changes the executives insist on is the introduction of a Will They or Won't They? plotline between the central character and a Hot Librarian.
- Trans Atlantic Equivalent: In-universe. Despite the Lincolns' protest, the show Lyman's Boys about a school headmaster is retooled into a show about a hockey coach called Pucks!.
- Truth in Television: Anyone watching Episodes and thinking this would never happen? Think again.
- Wacky Americans Have Wacky Names: Sean and Beverly snicker at the names of some of the young actors on the show, like "Stoke".
- Wimp Fight: Sean and Matt have the "vicious but technically inept" kind when Matt sleeps with Beverly.
- Your Cheating Heart: Matt, by his own admission. Not to mention several of the actors and executives. Also Beverley. And Sean... arguably.