Dear Clique: you cannot sit with us.
Clique made its debut last week on BBC iPlayer’s BBC Three channel. It was written by Jess Brittain of Skins and promised to be an exciting foray into the depiction of university life.
It follows the old friendship between the two central characters, Holly and Georgia, first year students who are wholeheartedly embracing the freshers’ madness and are partying hard. The dilemma within the show becomes apparent when the girls meet the eponymous ‘clique’ of older and sophisticated girls at a club. Georgia is smashed, so the clique offer their personal driver to take them home. Hang on a second. Personal driver? This is not the gritty reality of debt-ridden university life; this is excess.
Georgia is immediately enticed into the clique and Holly reluctantly follows. To make everything more complicated, the clique is headed by a lecturer who offers equally suspicious internships for women on the Solasta Women’s Initiative.
McDermid has a warped opinion on feminism, blaming women for making themselves the victims of gender equality. By not presenting an alternative view within the episode, Brittain has put Clique in the dangerous position of encouraging a negative portrayal of feminism. This is a wide and influential platform and if their purpose was simply to attract publicity by making it controversial, then feminism is being harshly abused.
This episode appears to be a rushed effort to shock as much as possible. There is excessive drinking, a jibe at lesbianism, drug taking, self-harm and suicide: all within one episode. It is a psychological drama focused on an elite and inaccessible group of women.
I came away feeling affronted that Brittain chose to present this programme within our university’s city. Although presenting a nonspecific university in Edinburgh, it pollutes the view of our student environment, which positively encourages feminism and is focussed on improving action towards mental health.
While it is fun to see landmarks like Middle Meadow Walk, it is disappointing to see few foreign students in a university city characterised by its international identity. I was looking for a fun portrayal of university life in Edinburgh. This is not what the show is, or where it is headed. The sole aim is to shock.
We need a programme that offers a hand of solidarity by painting an accurate picture of university problems and encouraging positive feminism. Clique does not achieve this, and Clique is not for Edinburgh.
Image: Phil Fisk @BBC/Ballooon