Fresh Meat (Channel 4) Review Series 2 Episode 8

The gang’s first year at university is drawing to a close, and relationships are being formed and broken according to the unwritten rules of growing up and moving on. Fresh Meat‘s second series has been criticized for not taking enough risks, but no one can deny the heartfelt satisfaction this finale brings to those who’ve been watching since this messed up, dysfunctional bunch of misfit slackers moved into their shared accommodation. With a third season already confirmed by Channel 4, also, there’s a safety and distinct sense of looking forwards inherent to this finale.

This episode isn’t as uplifting as the first series finale, but that’s mainly because the characters have sunk far lower this time around. JP’s journey has always been what lent the show some humanity, and here we see him desperately clinging on to the people his life with the only tool he has left. With his friends all slipping away and making other plans, he buys the student house and offers to charge them half the rent, throwing in a hot tub for good measure. Only Howard seems sure of taking him up on the offer, with Oregon planning a gap year with Shales Jr, Josie moving to a different university, and Kingsley moving into the smallest flat in the world with Heather.

But, of course, we knew we hadn’t seen the last of Oregon’s dalliance with her professor, and things seem to have come to their conclusion here. Now everyone knows, and Oregon has learnt for a second time not to rely on the various unsuitable men in her life. Shales’ profession in front of a room full of academics is hilarious, but I sincerely hope that the writers just let this lie now. I’d love to see Oregon have a storyline apart from her illicit sex life, and the sight of her walking off into the sunset with Vod suggests that my wish could actually be granted. Their unlikely friendship has always been one of my favorite things about Fresh Meat, and it was nice to see their stories end here for a time.

The other big resolution should really have been the will they, won’t they relationship between Kingsley and Josie, which has become almost unbearably tiresome this year. It should have been wrapped up during the first series, really, but has continued to hover over both characters this year with Heather thrown into the mix as well. Despite having a good go at each other during the party, the couple still haven’t resolved their various issues, and whether Kingsley has held true to his promise of breaking up with Heather remains to be seen. For now, they’ve missed their chance, and I can see this running on in continuous circles until the show comes to a close.

This second series has been very frustrating in its maintaining of the status quo, with the sharply written character development in series one either dithered over in these eight episodes, or jettisoned completely depending on which writer had been in charge of the episode. JP is still struggling with his duel identity as posh boy and genuine friend, Josie and Kingsley are still unable to admit their feelings, Oregon is still dealing with the fallout from her affair with Shales, Vod is still as flighty as ever, and Howard still hasn’t had a compelling storyline. These people haven’t changed much since we met them sixteen episodes ago.

But, that complaint out of the way, this second series has still been an entertaining experience, with some stand-out moments that show a real understanding of both the characters and the audience’s expectations of them. In many ways, including timing, Fresh Meat is a more mature replacement for Skins, and I’ve warmed to it simply because I fit into the age-range they’re going for. I began watching Skins when I was 17, and have now left university recently enough to remember the experiences and pitfalls that come with that phase of life. Some of the storylines might be embellished or downright unrealistic, but it’s captured the right spirit.

What did you think of the episode? What would you like to have changed for series three? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.