Contributed by Siobhan Parker
Fresh Meat returned to Channel 4 last night, and the freshers are now in their second term at University – no longer the newbies but not yet fully established as part of University life. As writer Tony Roche said in a recent interview, they “felt there was more to be mined from them still being newbies”.
The house have all returned in force (barring Paul the invisible man, who left over Christmas), with Kingsley (Joe Thomas) sporting a soul patch and resident odd-fellow Howard (Greg McHugh) combining his uni work with a new job at an abbatoir. The episode opens with posh-boy JP (Jack Whitehall) explaining Northern dialect to a friend, and approaching a man in the car park to “take us down Withington for a quid”. Clearly JP hasn’t yet adjusted to his surroundings, something I was very happy to see – some of the first series’ funniest lines came from this fish out of water. And that trend looks set to continue with gems like “welcome to your first bantenatal class. I’m your tutor – Bantonio Banteras” and “a word on the water pressure. That thing’s flow is as weak as a sucker MC with adenoids”. Life in a student house is both mocked and mimicked superbly, with Vod (Zawe Ashton) showing a potential new housemate around the house with lines like “that doesn’t open and that doesn’t close” and “that makes a funny noise but if you hit it, it stops for a bit”.
The uncomfortable scenes with ex-lovers Josie and Kingsley continued with them skirting around their obvious feelings for each other; this is made even more awkward when Kingsley spends the night with Josie’s new ”bezzie” Heather (Sophie Wu). Josie tries to interfere with this burgeoning relationship, lying to each of them about what the other has said – although Heather throws a spanner in the works by saying she enjoys a challenge. I’m looking forward to seeing what develops between the “guy with the cock and the girl with the slot”, as Kingsley describes them – and how Josie deals with it.
JP is put on the spot when his friend Giles(Gwilym Lee) reveals his homosexuality – at first he doesn’t believe it and joins in, thinking that it’s more posh-boy banter, but is then shocked when he realises the truth – and begins to wonder what their Stowe dorm “power showers” actually meant to Giles. JP is going to find this revelation difficult, requesting a big bottle of Tippex in order to paint over cockcat – a illustration of a cat with, well, penises for legs, as he is clearly worried about what this might mean for his subconscious feelings. He also tries to block the housemates’ attempts to recruit Giles as their new housemate. He discusses this with Kingsley who, after coming across as a complete idiot throughout the first season, manages to act maturely and sensibly, trying to talk JP down from his paranoia that he might also be gay (although he does use the phrase, “maybe you’re bi-furious”, showing that however much he may have grown up over the Christmas break, he’s still an idiot at heart). JP finally comes to terms with it all when Giles explains that just because he’s gay, he doesn’t necessarily want to have sex with every man he sees – including JP. As JP says – “this is Giles, my gay friend. He doesn’t want to bum me and I don’t want to bum him. And that’s fine”. And, I think, that’s as enlightened as JP is ever going to get.
Anyone who has ever lived in a student house – or indeed known a student – will be able to draw parallels between Fresh Meat and their own experiences; we’ve all known a Josie, a Kingsley or a Oregon (Charlotte Ritchie, still trying to shake off her upper-class upbringing); or been caught in the student’s union next to a JP or a Vod. How many people have known someone like Howard and his bags of mystery meat, however, remains to be seen.
Fresh Meat Continues Tuesday’s at 10.00pm on Channel 4