Perhaps the best university-based sitcom out there, Fresh Meat perfectly captures the insecurities, the inevitable personality shifts, and the short-lived relationships most students will inevitably face at uni. Almost a year on since the series came to an early end, Impact counts down the top 5 episodes from the Manchester-based series in order.
5: Series 1 Episode 4:
Being a television show, Fresh Meat spreads its wings and, despite generally capturing the tone of university life much better than other shows and films which tend to romanticise ‘the uni experience’, has the capacity to be occasionally outlandish. But this early episode truly captures the feeling of getting to know your housemates, as the six main characters get drunk together and trade virginity stories. Vod comes to terms with essay writing, and JP desperately tries to avoid being alienated from his old school friends.
4: Series 1 Episode 6:
This is the most touching episode of the entire series as Oregon and JP come face to face with losing people they love. Taking viewers right out of the ‘university bubble’ the characters had been in until this point, this is a bittersweet reminder that life goes on during uni outside of campus. All the best comedies mark themselves out by showing they are able to handle truly emotional moments well, and while the second half of this episode will provide very few laughs, it is truly haunting and will stick with you for months after watching it.
3: Series 2 Episode 4:
As JP invites the gang to stay at his (truly massive) home in Cornwall, chaos ensues as he barricades them all in in protest against his mother selling the place. We see a more animal side to Howard, and JP is finally forced to confront his feelings about the loss of his father.
2: Series 4 Episode 6:
Most series finales are overblown and dramatic, convincing long-term viewers that they have had the time of their lives sticking with the series through thick and thin. But the last episode of Fresh Meat is understated, more like a balloon deflating than being popped with a pin. Viewers see three-year-friendships disintegrate before their very lives as most of the gang go their separate ways to face life and their prospective careers.
Fresh Meat never tries to romanticise or play up the university experience and this episode, complete with a disappointing end-of-term party and seeing the house falling down representing the end of an era, is the perfect culmination of this. There are no bells and whistles here, but subtle comedy moments. A satisfying if understated end to the series, Fresh Meat proves up until its end that it knows what university is: a very short period of one’s life which must inevitably come to an end (including for Howard, who has tried to stay in education for as long as possible), but one to be enjoyed to the best of our abilities while it lasts.
1: Series 2 Episode 6:
After the first few episodes, it becomes apparent that Fresh Meat has the capacity to explore some very sensitive territory. Like all the best sitcoms, throughout the series we witness the explosive breakup of relationships and a tender handling of some of life’s more serious moments – career-based dissatisfaction, familial alienation and reflections on the sheer meaningless of it all.
But Fresh Meat is, above all, a comedy, and S2E6 is an absolute belter of an episode. A geology field trip to the Pennines leaves JP hanging off a rock-face while arguing with Kingsley about Heather, before breaking his leg; Oregon finds out that she is dating the son of her ex-boyfriend; and Josie hides the fact that she has been kicked out of her course from her housemates. Maybe not the most relatable episode, but in terms of pure entertainment this one will have you in tears, and is a great place to start if you’re new to the series.
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