Ever since I was a young boy my dream was always to go to university. To me it was never a means to an end, a step on the road to some greater goal, but an end in itself. That was simply what I wanted to do, go to university.
My obsession with university meant that I spent an inordinate amount of time, particularly as the date of my Higher Education Debut drew ever closer, watching American college shows like Greek and Glory Daze. I was however, painfully aware that it was unlikely these shows would be anything like my experience, and thus I always yearned for a decent show about a British university, of which there seemed to be precisely none.
Then one day, I got my wish and it was certainly worth the wait. Fresh Meat, now returning for a third season is I’m convinced one of our best homegrown television shows of this decade. The product of the feverish comedy minds of Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, of Peep Show and The Thick of It fame, first came onto our screens in 2011, when I was just beginning my second year of Sixth Form, and it had me hooked from the off.
The show revolves around six students who attend the fictional Manchester Medlock University. The series begins with the hapless band moving into a university house in Rusholme, Manchester after missing out on halls due to their late applications. The cast represent fantastically the string of exaggerated stereotypes on display at British university; a shy virgin thrust out into the world after being finally let off the parental leash (portrayed by Simon from The Inbetweeners, of all people); a girl from a privileged background which she seeks to hide, worrying it will affect her street cred; an alternative type, and an eccentric and socially inept older student.
However it’s Jack Whitehall who truly steals the show as JP, an Old Stoic and all purpose lovable, posh tit. His entitled cockiness and attempts to appear cool are a source of constant pratfalls and trouble, and also make him the originator of the lion’s share of quotable lines from the series, which as a show that is hardly short on them, is quite an achievement.
The influence of the comedy grandees that are Armstrong and Bain really shows their considerable strengths of combining truly inspired dialogue with wicked, cutting satire shine through from their formidable resume into Fresh Meat.
The characters are all fairly affable in their own way and you feel like you can genuinely get behind them, despite their numerous flaws. This helps in a show aimed at students and soon to be students. The relative lightness of the tone is at no expense of the comedy, so what you end up with is all the devilish humour of Peep Show without some of the slightly grimmer overtures, which for my taste, is perfect.
So if you are a university student, which I assume you are, unless you found this copy of Vision in a bin or got very sidetracked on the internet, then give Fresh Meat a go. As a piece of satire about university and indeed many elements of life as an under-25 in 21st century Britain, it’s almost pitch perfect; you’ll laugh, you’ll cry. Go on, why don’t you start watching it right now? I dare you. You won’t regret it. But if you do regret it, I’m not legally culpable.