Fresher’s, how you like your meat?

Yosayf Jay Dunn

Channel 4 has over the years prided itself on representing the youth of the UK. In recent years we’ve been privy to the teenage angst of Skins, fly on the wall action of Educating Essex and the award winning comical mishaps of The Inbetweeners. But the time has come for screens around the country to focus on the great rainy city of the North. Manchester’s student district has become the adopted home of Channel 4’s latest comedy endeavour Fresh Meat.

Spewing from the creative minds of Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong (creators of Peep Show & Four Lions) Fresh Meat aired earlier this year with high hopes for a laugh-a-minute modernist take on university life, but what started as a predicted 1:1 quickly descended to a 2:2 within the first episode. The accurate representation of dilapidated shared facilities is peppered with a stereotypical mix of students who’s personalities could have been photocopied out of any How to… comedy guide. But if you stepped back outside of the student circle would the stereotypical become viewed reality? Has the cliché become so ingrained that hangovers and essay deadlines have blurred our vision to what all non-viable NUS members of Manchester see on a daily basis? Well let’s have a look at the characters: Jack Whitehall’s posh-boy-looking-for-street-cred character makes me want to check my calendar to see if I’ve time warped back to 1996. Resident weirdo Howard (Greg McHugh) looks, talks & acts like the only comfort he’ll find is in a dark corner with a bottle of lotion. Man hungry, work shy anarchist Vod (Zawe Ashton) fits an entire ‘girl’s only halls’ into her personality, followed around at the heels by desperately seeking approval Oregon (Charlotte Ritchie). Joe Thomas sticks to what he knows best from playing Simon Cooper (The Inbetweeners) as the fumbling, girl shy Kingsley and his infatuation with new girl Josie (Kimberley Nixon). And last but not least the ever elusive flatmate, you know they live there but you never see them.

Any student would honestly have to admit that they’ve known, spoken to or heard of someone who at least embodies part of the above coalescence, because like all stereotypes they are born from real life. Is that such a bad thing? Should students be ashamed of living up to the mash-up of conflicting personas? Why? Celebrate it! Its university, being and meeting these people is part of growing up. It’s about the learning curve you take in your life that shapes you into the leaders of tomorrow. Students get drunk, they pull all-nighters, have questionable relations, miss lectures and eat into overdrafts with a voracious appetite; but if it wasn’t done now it would hurt a lot more when there’s not enough money to cover the mortgage payments. Fresh Meat has the transferability to be placed in any city in England, which is positive. No matter where you’re a student you go through the same s*@#! What Fresh Meat misses (and I am being biased) is that Manchester is still the best place to come of age, learn from your mistakes and drink until you hear your kidneys shout in concert “for the love of God drink some water.” As the great man Mr Toni Wilson said “this is Manchester, we do things differently here.” And with 50,000 students, the differences are infinite and the possibilities are endless.

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