Armstrong and Bain are no doubt comedic geniuses. Peep Show is surely one of Britain’s greatest comic triumphs in recent history. Almost a decade after they distilled the entire breadth of the human condition into Peep Show’s two sad middle-aged protagonists, the duo turned their attention to the younger generation and thus Fresh Meat was born.
The premise is simple. Take six clueless, unprepared students. Dump them in a house in Freshers’ Week, then observe and as they flounder through uni life. But, the execution is far more complex and finessed.
Fresh Meat is less a university Inbetweeners – hardly a ‘documentary’ of the mishaps of a bunch of mates. It is instead a university Peep Show. Fresh Meat manages to capture the moments which make a student’s life just that: a student life.
It isn’t a narrative following some friends in their daily lives. Instead, it poignantly captures the everyday dramas we go through, the good bits and the bad bits, the fallouts and the friendships.
Fresh Meat’s main attraction is the connection we feel towards the six main characters. While it may be that we’re stuck with them for four seasons, or that all of us are awkward and uninformed students, it seems the real reason Fresh Meat is so damn good is that we see ourselves so markedly in these oddbods.
By taking bits and pieces of our beloved Vod, Oregon, Josie, Howard, Kinglsey and JP, we can concoct literally anyone we meet around college, around Oxford and even at home. We all know someone who’s, say, an Oregon-Vod, or maybe a Howard-Kinglesy, or maybe just a straight up JP (they probably go to Christ Church). If you don’t think you can see even a tiny bit of yourself in these characters then you’re a liar.
Armstrong and Bain distill our friends (and our enemies) into six genuinely relatable, laughable and loveable characters. Regardless of how times may have changed since 2011, be it the government’s ever-changing relationship with tuition fees and the likes, the experience of uni is grounded in who you meet. That much remains the same. Fresh Meat is relevant as ever and I presume will stay that way so long as our universities stick around.