Thursday, 6 October 2011


Thursday, 6 October 2011
The weakest episode of the three that have aired, but in some ways the most interesting because of where it took some of the characters. It was a little strange, given Fresh Meat's 55-minute runtime, that so many subplots felt rushed or insubstantial, but there were only two that really worked well: Oregon (Charlotte Ritchie) being paid by Professor Shales (Tony Gardner) to clean his house, where she expected it to lead to an illicit liaison; and Howard (Greg McHugh) trying to woo Vod (Zawe Ashton) after their blind date together at a Chinese buffet. It's not that I disliked the other storylines—JP (Jack Whitehall) mistakenly believing he raped a girl because she scrawled a goodbye note on an anti-rape leaflet; Kingsley (Joe Thomas) dropping geology for drama to be closer to a girl who kissed him while blindfolded in a pub; Josie (Kimberly Nixon) being stood up by a student she later discovered had died—but they didn't seem to really go anywhere interesting, or have enough time spent on them.

The theme this week was very focused on relationships, as the whole series has been to some extent. I was surprised by how far the story took the Oregon/Shales situation, as it would have been very easy to have the joke be that the infatuated Oregon was being exploited by Shales to be cheap labour around his house, but instead they've gone down the controversial route of having an unhappily married middle-aged teacher make a move on a naïve student who appeals to him because she's smart (having read his book dissecting Moby Dick). It's not exactly fresh territory (most soaps get around to this idea), but I can't remember it happening on a comedy in a long time. This development also puts Oregon in a very unexpected position as the "square who wants to be seen as cool", because she's suddenly got a genuinely "cool" story to tell her role model Vod. I wonder if she has real feelings for Shales, or if she's just too swept up in the idea that university's all about having social experiences of this type? Is she just after a story to tell the grandkids?

Having Howard get the wrong idea with Vod, after spending an entertaining afternoon teaching her how to correctly tackle a buffet (including use of a "transporter" to steal noodle), was an interesting direction to take. I was pleased to see Vod treated the situation with more maturity than you'd perhaps expect, trying to gently let Howard know there's no chance of them starting a relationship (which you perhaps wouldn't expect from her forthright character), and Howard edged out of the two-dimensional weirdo category he's been stuck in until now. I'm just surprised more hasn't been made of the Howard vs JP antagonism that was so funny in Episode 1. Hopefully their childish hostility will resurface.

As I said, the other storylines weren't substantial enough to have much feeling about. But I've come to adore Nixon's facial expressions as lovable Josie, which flutter through a dozen emotions with almost every sentence, and consequently boost the scripts tenfold. She's so delightful, you just want to see her get with Kingsley (which is this show's "Ross and Rachel" situation, really). I don't have much to say about JP and Kingsley's subplots, beyond how excruciatingly bad Kingsley's performance was for his class (despite an apparently solid idea to give an interpretation of the pain he feels about the wall that separates him from Josie every night).

Overall, Episode 3 was another enjoyable hour from Fresh Meat. It was noticeably less funny, with fewer memorable lines of dialogue, but the performances are so winning I can forgive a great deal. As I've been saying from day one, you're just guaranteed a good time watching these actors play these characters, and writer Penny Skinner certainly delivered the show's best dramatic moment with Oregon beginning a consenting affair with a married man.

Still the best new British comedy in a long time, for me. How are you enjoying it?


  • Good to see Dan (Robert Webb), the geology teacher who still wants to think he's "one of the kids", hasn't been forgotten about after one episode. I was expecting him to be a fun guest appearance to please Peep Show fans, but it looks like he's a bigger part of things.
written by Penny Skinner · directed by David Kerr · 5 October 2011 · Channel 4