Fresh Meat, series 3 episode 1, review

The buffoonish characters in Channel 4's comedy Fresh Meat soon win you over, says Adrian Michaels

Fresh Meat was back, but was it well done? A third series of any comedy can be the start of a painful decline but Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, the writers, have got form for longevity. They have crafted eight series of Peep Show with reasonable consistency.
In Fresh Meat they have something very good going for them, a large cast of clearly differentiated student characters all strong enough to hold up parts of an episode.
Newcomers to the show last night could quickly discern the different and entertaining dynamics in the Manchester student house: Chelsea boy JP (Jack Whitehall) boasting of his Royal connections and Coutts gold card; nerdy Howard (Greg McHugh), the “Pig Man of Arbroath”; pseudish Kingsley (Joe Thomas) – “I’m thinking of shaving off my soul patch”; the pretentious ladies Vod (Zawe Ashton) and Oregon (Charlotte Ritchie), too cool to admit that their trip to South America over the summer had been a disaster.
These characters quickly win you over, and, better, you are keen to find out what happens to them. The acting was well-timed, particularly in one belter of a scene where the characters awoke in a student bedroom in Southampton one at a time, slowly joining a sotto voce debate about whether two of their number in the same room were covertly having intercourse. It was like a tight rock band introducing the different instrumentalists at a gig.
The almost universally vulgar gags were delivered lovingly even while some were shamelessly stolen: scenes where Oregon was to one side doing English-Spanish translation for Vod and Vod’s Latin lover as they were mid-foreplay were nicked straight from the visit of the Spanish Infanta in Blackadder 30 years ago. But since none of the show’s target audience was alive then, why not?

Actually, the target audience is probably wider than that. If your student days are a dim memory then either your children are already acting like buffoons and spouting obscenities, or they will be one day soon. As I watched Kingsley wearing his stupid hat indoors, or listened to Vod’s absurd paean to cocaine (“Coke is not a drug. It’s a facilitator for consuming other substances”), it was hard to force my muscles to uncringe from suppressed recollection of morons I have known. And as for my own children, they couldn’t possibly end up like that, could they?