★★★★★ (AGAIN) (I KNOW)
I remember when Skins came out. I remember being 14, on MSN Messenger in a group chat talking to my friends as we watched the first episode. “Oh my god, they’re just like us!” we said as we saw a group of alternative young people. “Oh… a little less like us” we said as they crashed a car into a river and did a lot of hard drugs. Skins was not a relatable show at all, but it wanted to be and ultimately alienating its audience. Fresh Meat is relatable to the point of pain, where you will see all the dumb shit you ever did after high school but live with the knowledge that when you did it it wasn’t funny. The show is written and created by masters of painful relatability Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain of Peep Show and could perhaps be viewed as its more wholesome younger cousin (though no-one eats a dead dog), but it is just as hysterical, bleak, and British.
The premise sees a group of first year university students miss out on dorms and ending up all living in the same shared house, none of them knowing each other or what they are doing. Everyone is very anxious and stressed out, all while just trying to get to the kitchen to make a fucking cup of tea without having to bump into each other until you’ve all got drunk at your first party and broken the ice a bit. But you’ve got a boyfriend who you cheated on the night before moving in and it turns out it was one of your new housemates that you banged already… and that other one is kind of cute… is that smell weed? And who ate the last of your bread? There’s Josie, a little neurotic and a little bit more of an alcoholic. Kingsley, desperate to be cool and also have sex some time. JP, “utter knobhead” / ”posh twat” who draws dicks on everything. Writer Vod, constantly rolling a spliff. Melissa aka Oregon, who tries too hard and is hiding the fact she has a pony at home. And Howard, Scottish geology student lurking in the shadows, loves a good knitted jumper.
There’s not a lot to it beyond that, but it’s lovely as heck to watch four seasons of such funny and well-written characters bond with each other as you bond with them. My favourite shows are always the ones with the best character development, because it kind of feels like those characters are your friends and you are simply a person looking through the camera and hanging out with everyone, like an emotional Oculus Rift. The show’s final season just finished airing earlier in the year and I finally got around to watching it this weekend and the last episode hit me pretty hard—I didn’t know any of these people when they all moved into that house and now I don’t want them to leave, even though they eat too loud and never do the dishes. The series almost didn’t get a fourth season, and so I’m happy with the conclusion I got, plus Jack Whitehall’s on Graham Norton a lot so I’ll see him soon, like when you hit up your old flatmates for the weed connects. If you have never seen it, Fresh Meat is a short sweet show with a lot of warmth and cringe and banter. I’m nearly 25 and I’ve never actually been to university, but between flatting, watching four seasons of Fresh Meat, and writing for Salient it almost feels like I have. Cheers.
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