The tale of five freshers as they begin their uni experience on the outskirts of Manchester. You've got the posh rah, JP; the "alternative" musician, Kinglsey; the druggy punk, Vod; the insecure hipster intellectual, Oregon; and the party-loving girl next door, Josie. Oh, and the nerdy weirdo that's already living in their shared student accommodation, Howard. You've gotta love Howard.
As characters, Fresh Meat feels like a solid skewering of early-adult, university culture in the 2010s. They're stereotypes, sure, but they're realistically believable stereotypes and their struggles feel real and empathetic as a result. I even found myself rooting for the horribly obvious Ross'n'Rachel romance between Kingsley and Josie. The decision to chuck them in an off-campus overflow accommodation is a nice touch, giving the show room for antics whilst automatically making them outcasts even within a culture of outcasts. All of this is only strengthened by a surprisingly excellent cast, with a wide range of British comedians popping up for small roles and cameos, including the brilliant Robert Webb as a pitch-perfect geology professor desperately trying to feel cool again.
Somehow, the real surprise here though is that Jack Whitehall's JP turns out to have some subtle nuance to him, particularly with the death/funeral of his father which is a standout episode as the finale. In fact, most of the characters do end feeling nuanced. The nice ones turn out to be hypocritical and self-absorbed, the annoying ones turn out to have feelings. There's some neat skewering of expectations and the show is richer for it. That said, it still thrives on fairly by-the-numbers plots of romances gone wrong, forced misunderstandings, and general antics that somehow undermine the realism of the situation and keep reminding you that you're watching a kind of fictional ideal dream of what university is like from people who maybe haven't actually been in quite a while.
That said, the London protests episode is brilliant and had me laughing out loud, so there's definitely hope the show will settle into itself more in future seasons. Oh, and of course, you've gotta love Howard.