A TROUSER-LESS man drying some dead ducks with a hairdryer. Hmm. Fresh Meat offers a weird but powerful opening as hard-nut Vod cruises into her new (grotty) student house to discover experienced student nerd Howard with ducks hanging from the ceiling. But that’s about all the weird and powerful stuff that we are given, and the remainder of the episode is largely disappointing. Or maybe I’m getting old and boring.
However: maybe not. I was expecting brilliant things from this show. Having recently graduated from Uni I know that there is a wealth of untapped humour in halls and houses and students unions all across the country, but Fresh Meat completely errs away from the generic university lifestyle in favour of a squalid house-share for students who missed out on halls. This isn’t a particularly bad idea … unfortunately; it just so happens that the comedy and drama is far from fresh.
As a fan of puns, I could say it’s past its sell-by date or maybe that it rots like a neglected pork chop, but I’d prefer to roll with the analogy of this show being similar to reconstituted meat. As in, lots of its elements have been stolen from other shows and repackaged.
Fresh Meat is a kind of Inbetweeners meets Gavin and Stacey meets Skins. A very odd ménage à trois. And as we know from the terrible Expendables film last year where Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis appeared in the same scene, sometimes botching together three brilliant standalone’s amounts to very little. Botching.
Josie is a slightly more confident version of Stacey; mainly because she’s welsh. Kingsley, played by Inbetweeners star Joe Thomas, is a slightly matured Simon Cooper. His hair is less spiky and he’s spent the past five years looking after his poor old mum. Buuuuut, his nickname is The Pussy Man, which is very resemblant of this summer’s Inbetweeners Movie where the four boys refer to themselves as The Puss-ay Patrol.
Stand-up comedian Jack Whitehall turns in an impressive performance as JP – a very awkward, uncool and completely arrogant public school boy. One of those gap-yahhh-chundered types with loads of money. He is also ‘a certified vagina-miner’. For a first-time television role, Whitehall is probably the freshest thing about Fresh Meat, especially as he plays a character so removed from his somewhat geeky and tender on-stage presence.
In fact, you can tell that Peep Show writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain put a lot of effort into the scripting and dialogue of JP, with his annoying verbal ticks and ridiculous analogies. For example, whilst discussing all manners of sexual protection, he says, ‘if the cucumber’s already in the shopping bag, it makes sense to take off the cellophane.’ The idea of JP buying his way through life is also very well realised as he outbids Vod for a bigger room and then outbids everybody’s objections by promising free Sky TV. He also claims ‘priority boarding to the bathroom’.
To conclude we’ll hand over to Joe Thomas’ Simon Kingsley, who summarises the show very neatly when he explains to JP that ‘we’re very Hufflepuff here’. And if you don’t understand the meaning of that reference, then you’re a right muggle.