I still miss being a student, to the extent that I constantly pray all my friends get divorced, lose their jobs and have to move in with me so we can finally crack on with the Thundercats box set we didn’t manage to finish before we graduated.
That’s probably why I love Fresh Meat so much: it allows me to relive those glory days. Well, that and the fact that the second series (currently airing on Channel 4) is the funniest comedy on television at the moment. Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong have brought their cringe-inducing Peep Show expertise to bear on the unique awkwardness of student life with fantastic results.
Take token posho JP. We’ve probably all encountered someone like him: an entitled, overconfident arse with no self awareness who still calls his parents mummy and daddy. This yah-boy archetype is a fixture at most universities, so it would have been easy for Bain and Armstrong to turn JP into a caricature. However, despite being played by the ever-punchable Jack Whitehall, he’s evolved into a funny and -dare I say it?- likeable character.
The death of his dad, a rather pitiful case of the mumps (“I need soup. I’m sort of being raped by my lack of soup”) and the subsequent heart-rending sale of his family’s huge Downton Abbey home humanised him, as did the discovery he had a fairly lonely childhood: a revelation that took place during a weekend ‘freak out’ that saw the gang attempt to consume 130 bottles of vintage wine.
I’d say we’d all been there, but sadly most of us haven’t. The closest I got to vintage wine as a student was Tesco value rioja (£2.50- bargain). Oh, and Lambrini of course, but only when used as a mixer.
Fresh Meat isn’t perfect. The current boring love triangle between fidgety, insecure Kingsley, calculating dentistry student Josie and her dull friend Heather is certainly a low point. Also the writers have struggled to find a clear role for 70′s throwback/ punk tomboy Vod, whose sex scene with a handyman last week was one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen on TV.
But all this is more than compensated for by the addition of new character Sabine (Jelka van Houten), a delightfully honest, plain speaking and Dutch (which probably explains a lot) mature student. ”I don’t not like her,” says Kingsley. “But I also don’t like her.” The addition of Sabine has lifted the second series far above the first. She’s our unfazeable straight man who cuts through the cartoon character nonsense of the other students with a single glance.
With the exception of the wonderful Howard (Greg McHugh) she’s probably the best character, so I was delighted to see them get together…if you can use the term ‘get together’ to refer to an encounter that started with Sabine saying ‘generally speaking I like to do sex at least once a month as it’s beneficial for the heart and nervous system. If you’d like, you could come upstairs to my room and we could have intercourse.’
Like I said: plain speaking.
We’re five episodes into series two and each one has been funnier than the last. Let’s hope this upward trend continues. If not, I’ll be so disappointed I’ll have to try and recreate student life by drinking a litre of whisky and Lambrini while watching In The Night Garden.