Life’s pretty swish for resident posh boy JP. Having his own estate cum party palace in Cornwall. OK, it’s a 300 mile drive away but there’s all the luxurious space you could ever want. So why does this episode open with a half-naked JP tearfully chucking things onto a fire?
Rewind three days earlier and the crew are heading down to JP’s palatial residence for a weekend of unbridled hedonism. All except Howard who is locked in a battle of wills with BT technical support, and Heathsley. The hybrid creature formerly known as Heather and Kingsley. But by some quirk of fate they separate and Kingsley goes off to join the gang and more importantly Josie.
After the fizzing dialogue of last week, there’s a markedly subdued tone here. JP walking around his childhood home when he finds out his mother’s selling it has some very bittersweet moments. Though these sit awkwardly with his many dickish moments as well. Similarly, there’s FINALLY an attempt at making Josie something approaching sympathetic. Her slightly unhinged sociopath front slips as she talks about her ex Dave’s upcoming wedding. But then it’s quickly restored when she blames that break up on Kingsley. Conveniently forgetting that ON HER FIRST DAY in the house she got naked with JP on a whim. Then she goads Kingsley into driving her all the way to Wales in Oregon’s car to crash the wedding before realising that her old relationship wasn’t really that. Maybe all this self-centeredness is meant to make Josie look cutely immature but it only makes me scream at Kingsley to run far, far away.
Speaking of the pussyman, Kingsley seems to have reverted back to his straight man role which is uncomfortably similar to The Inbetweeners’ Simon. Joe Thomas plays a great straight man but it was a treat to see him spread out a bit with Kingsley’s pseudo-hippy persona in previous episodes. So Kingsley reverting to a doormat again feels like a massive step backwards. Oregon’s thread in this episode is another misstep. Following on from her rivalry with Derek ending up with his mag being shut down and she becomes the centre of a Twitter storm. It plays out to no consequence and seems like it’s there to serve as filler. Incidentally, this has the shortest episode running time yet this series.
Yet for all of its structural faults, I found myself really enjoying this week’s instalment. There’s some great dialogue between the freshers, and one reference to a Robin Williams film had me belly laughing. There’s some nice character moments when JP and Josie reminisce about their past lives. JP talking about the time he went to the Millennium Dome and Josie about the small town wedding she and Dave had planned that’s going ahead without her. It does lose a bit of steam towards the end when its revealed JP is burning his childhood possessions, apropos of nothing.
Again the mix of comedy and drama is an uneasy one. Both exist in Fresh Meat outside of one another. Tellingly, there’s two writers behind this one and I wonder if they ever talked to each other. In isolation the drama and comedy scenes work well, but together they make this episode fractured. But as I said, I found myself really enjoying it this week. It’s good to see Fresh Meat fleshing out JP and Josie beyond their hateful exteriors, even if it has to metaphorically dig up JP’s dead dad. And it would take a stone heart not to melt a little at Vod throwing evidence of an affair onto the fire near the end.
Read Jake’s review of the previous episode here.
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