Clique: part teen fantasy, part meditation on youth, and all horribly … – The Guardian

What is it? Skins paints its bedroom black and graduates with a BA Hons in very bad things.

Why you’ll love it: The accidental investigator is such an irresistible narrative trope. Holly (the excellent newcomer Synnøve Karlsen) is just your everyday university fresher, but when her best friend, Georgia (The Fall’s bad babysitter Katie, Aisling Franciosi), is sucked into a sinister-looking group of alpha girls, Holly must probe their untoward activities in the hope of saving her friend. But is it really just altruism that drives her on, or a desire to move in on Georgia’s new clique? They’ve been close since childhood, but can their friendship endure this turbulent ride into adulthood?

This glossy six-parter, another smart commission from the bold types at BBC3 (Thirteen is nominated for all the awards this season), features a beauteous cast of demographically appealing youngsters, going about their financially uninhibited university social lives, taking drugs, smoking and drinking till they’re sick. Students are not poor any more – well, not these students at any rate.

So far, so Skins – writer Jess Brittain is a former alumnus – with much pumping trance and slo-mo hair-flicking. Then our heroines meet the enigmatic economics professor and walking inspirational-feminist-quote generator Jude McDermid (Sherlock’s Louise Brealey). The pair vie for a place on her internship scheme with the aforementioned alpha females, but it’s never made clear what will qualify the successful candidate apart from amazing grooming and total confidence. Get in with this ultra-beautiful, poised crowd and a big-money job awaits. No more baked bean-stained coursework for these thoroughbreds. They spend their days and nights schmoozing important clients for McDermid’s Solasta Finance corp, drinking free champagne and snorting lines of massive, nameless success.

There’s a lot of vaguely weak-sounding business talk about “landing the Steiner account” without any specifics on what that actually means. But the corporate stuff is just a sinister backdrop to this tightly strung story of female friendship, what it is to be a young woman in the capitalist idyll we have created and how far competing uni students will go to secure themselves a minted future.

This is not university as I remember it, and it makes me sad for times past, of brown sauce on noodles for dinner and day-long sessions on the pool table lubricated with dry cider. These girls dress their slight frames in edgy, tiny, garments, straighten their hair till they can see their faces in it and have an obedient driver permanently on call to ferry them to enormous, brutalist houses overlooking the sea, there to enjoy furlongs of coke by a beautifully lit basement pool.

It’s part teen fantasy, part meditation on youth, and all horribly, horribly moreish. As Holly falls deeper down the rabbit hole, champagne glass in hand, her past swims into focus and the consequences of all this Thatcherite excess begin to float to the surface.

Clique is a madly seductive thriller that, once you get past the glare of all that young, perfect skin, will hook you whatever age-box you happen to tick. And as Brittain’s first series-creator credit, it’s a cause for great excitement about her future work.

Where: BBC3 on iPlayer

Length: Six 45-minute episodes, one already available, with a new episode released each Sunday.

Stand out episode: The three that I have seen have all been very strong and never tell where they can more effectively show. But episode one wins for the punctuation mark at the end.

If you liked Clique watch: Pretty Little Liars (Netflix), Search Party (All4).

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