The first episode of new Channel 4 sitcom Fresh Meat aired last week, written by the prolific, acclaimed writers, Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong of Peep Show and The Old Guys fame. The series has been well publicised across all media formats, from interviews in tabloid newspapers to critics’ advanced reviews on Twitter and simple recommendations from celebrity friends and cast members.
Speaking of whom, there’s no shortage of familiar faces among the comedy line-up. The Inbetweeners‘s Joe Thomas, stand-up Jack Whitehall, Tony Gardner (who people of a certain age will forever helplessly associate with CITV’s My Parents are Aliens) and Greg McHugh who has already written and starred in his very own successful sitcom up in Scotland, Gary: Tank Commander.
…I assume spend the next six or seven episodes grappling to escape…
The new series follows the antics of six ramshackle housemates as they take their first foray into university life together. Having missed out on halls, they’re thrown together in a house well outside of “the action” and I assume spend the next six or seven episodes grappling to escape their “Social Siberia”.
Suitably, Joe Thomas’s character is more or less a follow-on from Simon, in The Inbetweeners. They may as well have called him by the same name. He is the “normal” one with a conscience, but a nervous disposition, hence why he does stupid things, resulting in good old comedic effect.
…an oddball living in the basement…
Jack Whitehall also plays his stand-up persona, staying with the posh upper-middle class rich kid guise. He holds an inflated sense of his own importance, partakes in dodgy drug habits and promptly sets about annoying or bribing anyone unfortunate enough to pass his way.
The remainder of the house is made up of an oddball living in the basement, a punk, a good girl, and the obligatory ‘normal’ girl, just to help plant the whole plot in some kind of reality for the viewer and to give Thomas’s equally bland character a plot-spewing love interest.
…real losers in fact, who are nonetheless endearing…
I have to say, given the amount of press coverage, Fresh Meat has received and how annoying this pummelling of over advertising can be, I actually found it very amusing and light relief from the world on a wednesday night.
It is not as cringe-inducing as either Inbetweeners or Peep Show can be and the writing is sharp and witty. The great thing about Bain and Armstrong and perhaps an explanation towards their success, is their ability to create real characters – real losers in fact, who are nonetheless endearing and engrossing. At least in my eyes, the setting and goings on here are already all too familiar.
The topic of university living in a sitcom has been left quite alone, with a few unsuccessful exceptions since the early 80s and The Young Ones. Perhaps because of that show’s cult status and pioneering format, no-one has wanted to touch it for fear of (inevitable) comparison. However, I think most viewers are agreed that it’s about time someone took the leap, and there couldn’t be two more worthy comedy writers to tackle it.
Image courtesy of Fresh Meat and Channel 4