Following my review of Chlemsford 123 (the greatest Roman-era sitcom of all times!) I found the more recent Plebs.
Centered around the lives of (very) common people in 27 BCE Rome, it’s a nice little British sitcom with enough going on for it.
What to Expect
Set in Rome of 27 BC, two mates – Marcus and Stylax – and their single, feckless slave Grumio are living the life of everyday Romans. They share a small apartment in an insula (tenement), go to their office jobs (one is a copier of scrolls, the other is their shredder), and try to do what simple folk have been doing since the dawn of times (trying to get by and get laid).
The series has four seasons, with a fifth announced for this year. Season 1 & 2 has two female counterparts (a newly arrived Briton and her slave) living next door. They leave by the end of season 2 and it gives the impression of closure, so I almost missed that there were further seasons. Season 3 has a different romantic interest but pretty much the same format and humour.
Season 4 sees a change in the main cast, with the departure of Stylax (due to a construction accident) and his replacement by Jason (the cause of said construction accident). There’s also a shift in surrounds, as the guys are no longer in an office jobs but rather running a tavern.
What I liked / What to be aware of
While the term “historical accuracy” doesn’t belong within ten Roman miles of the series, this is a sitcom whose whole idea is to adapt the life of modern blokes to a Roman setting. Anachronisms and misrepresentation are part of the humour.
The series has a certain charm, which makes it very enjoyable. Simple people like in Friends, a bit geeky like the Big Bang Theory, and (of course) on the background of Rome.
With season 4, though the humour is pretty much in line with the previous seasons, I yet found it somewhat less charming overall. Your mileage may vary.
While not as hilariously, timelessly funny as Chelmsford 123, Plebs has enough going for it for a watch at least once.
If you’re not in the UK you can get the DVDs — just check for the regions.