REVIEW: Fresh Meat still has a bite to it

By Ryan Cumberworth

Although it aired from 2011 to 2016, Fresh Meat remains a classic whose situations and characters will always be relevant to students.

Set in Manchester, it’s a charming student sitcom that spans four series, as we follow six characters throughout their university career at fictional Manchester Medlock University.

Howard, Vod, Oregon, Kingsley, JP and Josie all live together in the same damp infested house from freshers week to graduation – played by Greg McHugh, Zawe Ashton, Charlotte Ritchie, Joe Thomas and Kimberley Nixon respectively.

We watch all six characters grow from their first awkward encounters to preparing for life in the adult world.

It’s hard to not relate to any of them, or see some of the same qualities you have in them when they’re stressing about exams, getting raided by Scouse drug-dealers and anxious about life after university.

The first season depicts stereotypical student life, getting to grips with living without mum and dad, drinking all night and sexual flings.

There is a certain sense of carelessness among some of them, whether that is Vod, a strong independent woman, who constantly ignores the mounting pile of debt letters or Oregon who desperately tries to fit in.

As the show progresses we start to see each character grow into their own.

Take Oregon, she starts university unsure of who she is and leaves it confident in herself. Although it was a turbulent journey to get there, from having a sexual relationship with her academic tutor, Professor Shales, to becoming so hated as president of the Students Union that an effigy of her was burnt on campus.

And although she believed herself to be a great leader and poet, her getting a man deported because of a sexual fling with him, at a protest against his deportation isn’t the hallmark of Michelle Obama.

Like any other sitcom there is a love triangle, a very strange one when it involves three people who all live together, like JP, Josie and Kingsley.

The first few seasons find Josie and Kingsley navigating a relationship that they both know will not work. After this, JP and Josie begin a sexual relationship.

To add insult to injury for Kingsley, JP is the stereotypical lad from the home counties who is pretentious, wealthy and full of himself.

One of the show’s best scenes is when it dawns on Kingsley that his course doesn’t correspond to his ideal job. He shows his girlfriend’s son, Lucas, his student digs to persuade him to go to university. Lucas is wary of university because of poor job prospects and student debt. He asks Kingsley: “What do you study?” “Geology” he replies. “And what do you want to do?” “Work in radio,” Kingsley responds. It is at this moment Kingsley comes to the realisation that the past three years have been wasted and that he might after all have to return home to his mother.

The final series has a tone unique to the previous seasons.

As Kingsley desperately tries to find a solution to escape from moving back home, and Howard attempts to overcome his fear of moving to London, it dawns on many of them that their care-free days are coming to end.

Source: Channel 4. Fresh meat cast.

This show perfectly encapsulates the turbulent ride of being at university – from developing as an individual, the hopes and aspirations of the future, to the daunting prospect of entering the adult world without a clue of what to do.

Its a binge-worthy watch.

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