Review: Fresh Meat

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f you missed the first series, Fresh 
Meat is Jesse Armstrong and Sam 
Bain (of  Peep Show fame)’s hilariously awkward vision of student 
life, a mine of comic potential that 
hasn’t been so successfully tapped 
since  The Young Ones. Previously, 
the writers exploited students’ 
attempts to reinvent themselves 
when they start university, with 
each one trying and failing to be 
something they’re definitely not. 
Joe Thomas as the sweet, fumbling 
and virginal Kingsley managed to 
acquire the not-so-apt nickname 
‘the pussyman’ and the previously 
horse-loving Melissa turned up at 
Uni as self-styled hippie ‘Oregon’. 
A new series means a new term 
and more attempts at a new start: 
Kingsley has regenerated again 
and is now sporting a god-awful 
excuse for a beard and some pseudo-zen philosophy to match: ‘what 
a thing does is what a thing is, I’m 
just letting it do its thing.’ The ongoing romantic subplot between 
Kingsley and Josie certainly hasn’t 
changed though: they continue to 
fail to get together just as drastically. This story still has plenty of 
run in it, but it was largely background material this week as Jack 
Whitehall’s bumbling toff JP stole 
the show. 
Whitehall gets a lot of stick for 
playing nothing but exaggerated 
versions of himself, and perhaps 
this is true. But to be honest, he 
does it really well, so who cares?  
Although his portrayal occasionally edges too far into caricature 
– ‘Sorry, I don’t speak posh’ is one 
understandable response to his 
‘banter’ – several of his moments in 
this opener are simply golden. 
Showing Giles around (a new 
transfer from Exeter and an old 
school-friend from Stowe), JP revels in imparting his knowledge of 
the local lingo: ‘owt is any, nowt 
is none… tea is supper, dinner is 
lunch.’ When Giles reveals he is 
gay, however, JP finds this harder to adapt to – largely because 
memories of shared ‘power showers’ (‘you know – like, extreme 
washing’) at school cause him to 
question his own sexuality. He is 
hilariously befuddled – ‘bi-furious’ 
as Kingsley puts it. But after some 
patient explanation from Giles that 
‘I don’t want to bum you, and you 
don’t want to bum me’ he is back 
on form, proudly presenting his 
gay best friend to the housemates 
as a new addition to the gang. The 
thing is, they’ve already promised 
the room to the iron-willed and 
frighteningly officious Sabine, 
who, it seems, does not suffer fools, 
or people who renege on rental 
agreements. This could, and probably will, get ugly.
Meanwhile, Oregon’s liaison 
with Professor Schales is well and 
truly over, though he refuses to 
accept it, stumbling around the 
faculty recalling halcyon days 
of reading ee cummings to her 
and weeping, and Howard is still  
bloody brilliant. Greg McHugh’s 
deadpan delivery is a consistent 
highlight and more Howard  can 
only be a good thing. 
It looks like this series will be 
as compelling as the first. The 
strength of every member of this 
young cast is what really makes 
this show shine and, on the evidence of this first episode, they’re 
only getting stronger in Series 2.

If you missed the first series, Fresh Meat is Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain (of  Peep Show fame)’s hilariously awkward vision of student life, a mine of comic potential that hasn’t been so successfully tapped since  The Young Ones.

Previously, the writers exploited students’ attempts to reinvent themselves when they start university, with each one trying and failing to be something they’re definitely not. Joe Thomas as the sweet, fumbling and virginal Kingsley managed to acquire the not-so-apt nickname ‘the pussyman’ and the previously horse-loving Melissa turned up at Uni as self-styled hippie ‘Oregon’. 

A new series means a new term and more attempts at a new start: Kingsley has regenerated again and is now sporting a god-awful excuse for a beard and some pseudo-zen philosophy to match: ‘what a thing does is what a thing is, I’m just letting it do its thing.’ The ongoing romantic subplot between Kingsley and Josie certainly hasn’t changed though: they continue to fail to get together just as drastically.

This story still has plenty of run in it, but it was largely background material this week as Jack Whitehall’s bumbling toff JP stole the show. Whitehall gets a lot of stick for playing nothing but exaggerated versions of himself, and perhaps this is true. But to be honest, he does it really well, so who cares?  Although his portrayal occasionally edges too far into caricature – ‘Sorry, I don’t speak posh’ is one understandable response to his ‘banter’ – several of his moments in this opener are simply golden. 

Showing Giles around (a new transfer from Exeter and an old school-friend from Stowe), JP revels in imparting his knowledge of the local lingo: ‘owt is any, nowt is none… tea is supper, dinner is lunch.’ When Giles reveals he is gay, however, JP finds this harder to adapt to – largely because memories of shared ‘power showers’ (‘you know – like, extreme washing’) at school cause him to question his own sexuality. He is hilariously befuddled – ‘bi-furious’ as Kingsley puts it. But after some patient explanation from Giles that ‘I don’t want to bum you, and you don’t want to bum me’ he is back on form, proudly presenting his gay best friend to the housemates as a new addition to the gang. The thing is, they’ve already promised the room to the iron-willed and frighteningly officious Sabine, who, it seems, does not suffer fools, or people who renege on rental agreements. This could, and probably will, get ugly.

Meanwhile, Oregon’s liaison with Professor Schales is well and truly over, though he refuses to accept it, stumbling around the faculty recalling halcyon days of reading ee cummings to her and weeping, and Howard is still  bloody brilliant. Greg McHugh’s deadpan delivery is a consistent highlight and more Howard  can only be a good thing. It looks like this series will be as compelling as the first. The strength of every member of this young cast is what really makes this show shine and, on the evidence of this first episode, they’re only getting stronger in Series 2.

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