Fresh Meat – Funny and Familiar

The following is a guest post.

If you’ve had the misfortune to visit a college dwelling recently, as I have, I’m sure you’ll agree that nothing ever changes. It’s the universal student condition; living amongst dirty dishes, mountains of beer cans, and mysterious holes in the drywall. I’m describing my son’s apartment by the way, not The Young Ones’ flat.

 

Similarly, watching the comedy Fresh Meat on Hulu this past week has brought back vivid memories of my student days and my London semester in particular. Sure my experience happened 25 years ago, but living with total strangers is something you tend not to forget. In 1986, I arrived in London to live in this house with three dozen other American students for five unusual, often frustrating months. What would’ve made it better was if there’d been some British students living there, but that’s a story for another time…

 

Alas, the house is now a La Suite executive hotel and proudly bears a plaque informing us that Charles Eames Kempe, an esteemed stained glass artist, once lived there in the early 19th century.

The “freshers” of Fresh Meat, on the other hand, are six British students enrolled at a fictional Manchester university and who find themselves relegated to a shared house instead of the more desirable halls of residence.

 

From left to right we have Vod, streetwise and hard-living, but with that proverbial heart of gold; Oregon, quite intelligent, but socially insecure and so attempts to hide her privileged background; Josie, likes to follow the rules and tries to be the voice of reason in the house; Kingsley, sweet, but unsure of the direction he wants his life to take so is easily led astray; JP, arrogant, posh, and desperate to appear cool among his peers; and Howard, mysterious long-term house resident who’s just happy to finally have some company.
What rings true about Fresh Meat is the housemate dynamic – the inadvisable hook-ups, the prickly differences in class/wealth, the sensible kids trying to rein in the more impulsive, selfish ones (yes, I was a “Josie”) and of course, the shared kitchen experience. Though I’ve yet to see an episode which features the old washing-up showdown, someone’s bound to put up a petty sign ranting about not being your mother and cleaning your own mess. You know it’s going to happen; it’s just a matter of when.

But close and frequent proximity can also breed friendships, or at least, alliances. On Fresh Meat, touching bonding moments do occur in times of adversity which takes this series into slightly dramatic territory. It did, however, win a British Comedy Award for Best New Comedy Programme last year so there are definitely more laughs than tears. I recommend it for those who have liked The Peep Show, Pramface or The Inbetweeners. In fact, Joe Thomas (Kingsley) has basically packed up his Inbetweener’s character, Simon, and taken him to university.

Please enjoy this YouTube clip in which Howard teaches Vod the starving student ropes. If you’d like to see more, Hulu adds new episodes weekly. Then you too can revisit those days of possibility and carefree squalor. They really were the good old days.


Carmen is an American wife and mother of two college students who live away from home. With her yellow lab Malcolm by her side, she watches and writes about British television for her own blog Everything I Know about the UK I Learned from the BBC. Read more of Carmen’s posts here.

Comments

  1. says

    Fresh Meat is my new favourite show! It’s so funny! (I was definitely the Josie of the group, too…)
    Sad though, they don’t know whether it’s going to be picked up for another season last I heard.

  2. says

    I understand it’s not official from Channel 4, but Jack Whitehall has been saying a third series is definitely on. Let’s hope he’s right!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *