Saturday, 22 April 2017

FRESH MEAT Season Two: For The Love Of Vod

After a bit of a break, The Midnight Ramble dives back into Netflix's selection of British TV shows with the second season of campus comedy Fresh Meat.

Season Two takes a running leap over its predecessor. Our 'heroes' return, some having learned some hard truths, other having learned nothing at all.

Episode One
The house re-gathers following the semester break. Invisible Paul Lamb has left, so they are on the hunt for a new flatmate and contend with a host of personal crises: JP is dealing with his friend Howard's homosexuality; Vod is in debt to everyone in the house; and Josie tries to sabotage Kingsley's blossoming maybe-relationship with her friend Heather (Sophie Wu).

While it has the benefit of a previous season's worth of backstory, the first episode feels so fresh and full of energy. The various subplots are juggled effectively, and all the characters get plenty to do. Already, this show feels like it has found its groove.

Episode Two

Kingsley's relationship with Heather has caused Josie to become extremely vindictive. She ends up breaking Heather's arm during a self-defence demonstration. In an attempt to solve her financial woes, Vod gets a job as a maid in a hotel. She also pulls double duty, looking after JP when he comes down with the mumps. Fearing sterility, he stores a sample of his seed in the house's ice tray -- hijinks ensue.

Episode Three
This episode is the first time our anti-heroes have contemplated life after (failing) university. Following a bit of skullduggery at a jobs fair, Kingsley is presented with the opportunity to work for BP. This turn acts as a catalyst for Simon and JP consider new careers.

Already employed, Vod is deeply unhappy in her job. Sadly, this means she fails upwards and gets a promotion. This in turn presents an opportunity for Josie, who gets a job as a maid. Because she is an idiot, Josie gets fired. Flag this as the point where Josie's tenuous status as sympathetic lead begins to dip.

In an increasingly rare moment of self-evaluation, Kingsley gives up his invite to intern at BP, and gives his invite to the big BP function to Simon. In turn, he takes Vod as his plus-one. She stages a protest, exploding bags of oil on a dining table.

This episode represents an interesting case of use-and-effect. A character makes a choice, which influences another character to make a choice. It's a basic tenant of drama and comedy, and this domino effect continues to ripple throughout the season.

Episode Four
JP takes the team down to his estate for a weekend study-session/freakout party. At this point, I'm wondering how the girls can tolerate him -- this feels like the fiftieth time he's suggested the housemates have an orgy.

JP has a crisis when his mother reveals the house is being sold. This leads to a drunken party, and JP finally learns to let go -- granted, he ends up taking his father's ashes and taking a bunch of useless rich guy crap, but that's big for him. Meanwhile Josie learns her ex-fiancĂ© is still getting married and decides to crash the wedding. She winds up parked outside and watching the festivities, unable to do anything.

It's a pretty bleak episode all round. There are a few laughs (Vod hunting is something we need more of), but there's a sense of melancholy here which dampens the spirits considerably.
Episode Five
This episode presents something I never expected: Vod in love.

The house gets burgled, after Josie leaves the keys in the door. In order to make it look like someone else did it, Josie smashes in the front door. Enter Al, a handyman tasked with fixing the door.

Enter Vod, fresh from an all-night bender, who spots Al the handyman and promptly falls in love with Al the handyman.

Cue the worst sex scene I have seen in a long time. While Vod is satiating her love for the handyman,  Simon is left heartbroken after Dutch housemate Sabine ignores him after their tryst last episode, and Josie botches a surgery because she is far too drunk.
At this point, I realised how little I cared about Kingsley and Josie. Thankfully the rest of the ensemble make up for the leads' deficiencies.

Episode Six
This episode begins with the revelation that Josie has been booted out of her course. On another front, Vod has to take a drug test to get the next instalment of her RAF bursary. She takes a sample of Josie's urine -- which leads us to discover Josie is taking her own version of happy pills.

Oregon finds the perfect man, a post-grad who works at the library, She spends this episode trying to nab him. However, having secured her prize, her euphoria is short-lived -- it turns out her new boyfriend is Tony Shales' son. Oh boy.

Meanwhile the boys go on a field trip for Geo. Sick of lecturer Dan's (Mark Webb) screw-ups, they lay a complaint which he finds about. The trip turns into a series of mind games as Dan tries to figure out who laid the complaint.

On top of this, Kingsley is suspicious that JP has eyes on his girlfriend, and Simon is trying to get over his feelings for housemate Sabine.

JP climbs up a rock face and gets stuck. This acts a catalyst for the guys to completely fall apart over their various sexual failings.

Episode Seven
Josie has taken to pretending to go to class, and then heading into town to gamble on the horses and eating ice cream while swinging (in a playground, not the other kind). Heather signs Kingsley up for an open mic night -- it's an embarrassing failure. After recognising her vocal talents, Kingsley forms a band with Oregon.

Speaking of Oregon, Tony finds out she has been seeing his son. Good times. Kingsley quits the band over the introduction of bongos before their first gig and ends up sitting outside with Josie. Ugh, guess where this going?

JP falls in love with one of his rich mate Tobeys' French cousin Celeste -- an alien concept. However his mate Ralph has called dibs, and then asks JP to guard his 'prize' while he is away. JP gives into his feelings, but in true JP fashion, screws it up all by himself.

Vod goes drinking with a famous poet who then dies. Vod has a wonderful sense of style this episode -- she dresses like Marilyn Manson at one point, and ends the episode dressed like a gentleman on the Titanic.

Episode Eight
The end of season two features several threads coming to a head. Kingsley wants Heather to move in, but the housemates hate the idea -- Kingsley decides to move out.

The other Professor Shales discovers that Oregon is dating her son -- unlike her estranged husband, she threatens to tell him what/who Oregon has done unless she breaks up with him. Meanwhile, Vod is forging poetry to hawk to Tony Shales.

Things come to a head at the Shales' pretentious party -- Kingsley and Josie give in to their desires and have vigorous sex while the Shales clan collapse in on itself and Oregon is abandoned by everyone and cries her brains out. oh, and JP ends the episode buying the house.

Vod's style choices continue to be on point -- at the party she's sporting a tweed coat and dress shirt ensemble with frilly collar. Great stuff.

By the end of this season, I have lost all sympathy or interest in Kingsley and Josie. The rest of the ensemble make up for their shared self-absorption. Not that they are paragons of virtue, but the show-runners appear to be engaging in inverting specific expectations relating to the characters: While the 'good' people start at the top and are in decline,  characters like JP and Vod are going the other way. The key difference is that these characters are true to who they are, while Kingsley and Josie are not.

Previous reviews


No comments:

Post a Comment