23 September, 2011

Awkwardness At Its Best (Fresh Meat, Channel 4)


Channel 4's Fresh Meat is their new university-based situation comedy, which started on Wednesday with the group being placed in a house-share and beginning their freshers week. After the failure and subsequent axing of Campus (which I personally loved) earlier this year, it was a risky business to bring this to commission. However, following generally good reviews, it seems Channel 4 may have found a new comedy series which could continue for a while.

An initially patchy first episode (the drying of Peking Duck with a hairdryer without wearing trousers) transformed into a fast-paced, intensely awkward and even heart-felt episode. Whilst Joe Thomas (The Inbetweeners) seems to have a knack of playing awkward, besotted characters, he separated himself well, in my opinion, from his Inbetweeners stereotype with the character of Kingsley; he has separated himself from acting merely as Simon-gone-to-uni. His love interest, Josie, is shy and awkward - Kimberley Nixon acts perfectly during the touching scenes between her and Kingsley's rooms. Oregon, played by Charlotte Ritchie, showed a Jessica Hynes-style of awkwardness, and a desire to please and conform with the housemates, particularly Vod. Played by Zawe Ashton, Vod performed perfectly as a cheating person, without a clue as to how she makes others feel. Howard, I feel, is a bit too weird and unlikeable to be 'one of the house', but is truly cringeworthy and a person you definitely watch and feel happy that you do not live with - fair play Greg McHugh.


The last of the Six, played by Jack Whitehall, is JP. I had myself laughing hysterically at his speech, made up of cliches and middle-class bantering, hardly any of which made sense. His phonecall to his friend after sex with Josie was toe-curlingly awful, as were most of his scenes in the episode. Whilst Whitehall is not a natural actor, he has done well to create this persona, and continue it perfectly without slipping into his stand-up routine.

Two personal highlights of the episode. Firstly, the tea-drinking scene, where everything Kingsley said made him facepalm and you could see the desperation of the bunch attempting to please one another into friendship. Whilst shockingly poor small-talk, I think everyone watching can remember a time that a group of people had been this awkward. Secondly, the JP-Josie sex scene (the sheet fiasco) was a perfectly comic, perfectly timed scene, all the time made more brilliant by JP's phrases and cliche.


With social awkwardness down to a T, the writers (creators of Peep Show), have done excellently to portray the awkwardness of Uni pressure and introduction on screen so well. Lines such as 'she was my sorbet... she cleansed my palate' are hilarious, and I can only see JP getting funnier as the series progresses. Exceptionally well acted by all involved and well scheduled to coincide with 'real-life' Freshers, I think Fresh Meat could become a modern classic.

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