1/20/2014

Fresh Meat Dissected

Having been suggested the UK series Fresh Meat by several people, I decided to watch the first episode. It is a show about 6 first year university students living in a house together. 5 minutes into it and I was already bored. Pilots are supposed to captivate the viewer in order to sell the rest of the season, but it had no such effect on me. Its blatant bigotry was an instant turn off, but I watched the entire thing for the sake of a critique, and here it is. This show feeds off stereotypes of English university culture, and makes no attempt to challenge them whatsoever. It sells ideas commonly thought to be the norm, which succeeds to alienate those who don't fit into them. There were too many examples of this, so I'll only refer to the few that spoke the loudest (SPOILERS AHEAD)
  • The character presented as the "weirdo" is Scottish - "Sorry, I've just got used to wearing trousers of the mind" is one of the few gems spoken by him. This is a gratuitous "otherization" of a character that could have easily been made English.
  • The character presented as "tough", sarcastic, and generally dark is black.. shocker. She has spent the last 6 months working in a fish factory, which suggests an underprivileged background. We also find out that she has come in contact with every possible drug you can think of, doesn't want to do work and also has no problem presenting someone else's work as her own. She is contrasted with the passionate white girl who tries to downplay her privilege around her and puts a lot of hard work into her writing.
  • Kingsley and Josie (two other housemates) who seem to have a crush on each other both get lucky with their respective one night stands. Josie lies about hers (stating it never happened) while JP's immediate reaction once Josie is out of the room is to phone his mate to tell him what happened. As per usual, the boy is proud to have sex, the girl ashamed - must be hard to cram that many stereotypes in 40 minutes, yet they make it look so easy. Also mention worthy - Josie only had sex because she was jealous that Kingsley was hitting it off with the girl at the bar, she even states that she didn't really like JP, but he looked "clean".
  • Josie and Kingsley's one night stand are pitted against each other, mainly because Josie is jealous that the other one is "hot" - of course, all of us see all other girls as rivalry to our perceived beauty *eye roll*. Both of them are conventionally beautiful blonde white girls, obviously.
  • The phrase "If you don't like it, you can fuck off to China" is used by a housemate against Kingsley when he is protesting a deal that just happened to switch room. This is from one white boy to another. That is all I will say about it because if you cannot see why the line is problematic, you need to sit down and re-evaluate your life.
  • When Kinglsey finds out that Josie did have sex with JP, he has a self indulgent moment during which emotional music is played, so as for us to sympathize with this "betrayal" - even though he himself not only had sex with another girl, but all the while pretending he was into religion, as she was Christian. Seriously?
  • Less than 10 minutes into the episode, and binge drinking is happening - evidently it's not normal to be at university and not drown in a puddle of alcohol.
  • Jack Whitehall's character - he is an exaggeration of heavily problematic "lad" behavior. The exaggeration is an issue because it gives a chance to viewers who engage in similar behavior to dissociate themselves from him and laugh as well, because they think they aren't AS problematic as he is, even though they actually are. It makes people around them perceive them as being alright because their behavior is not as "messed up" as JPs, though it is, it's just re-packaged for television. It also derives a lot of laughter from him coming from a privileged background, perpetuating the myth that privileged=asshole.
There was a lot more going on, but I suggest you watch the episode yourself to catch them out, I have no interest in re-watching. 

In conclusion, I won't be giving this show the time of day, it seems like an absolute waste of time. All it does is perpetuate myths and archetypes, sells the "university experience" as the shallow awkward, drunken experience that it has been constructed to be for capitalistic purposes (it sells alcohol, it sells nightclub nights - which sell alcohol, it sells clothing, it sells music, etc.). It's lazy script writing for mass entertainment, what's new.

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