TV

Simon Amstell: Carnage cuts like a knife (into vegan cheese)

By Kitty Knowles 21 March 2017
Summary

Carnage: So many reasons to watch Simon Amstell's harsh and humorous vision of 2067.

It’s 2067.

“Camembert”. “Parmesan”. “Edam”.

The guilt-ridden members of an AA-style support group take it in turns to admit their once-favourite cheeses.

Their grandchildren – a generation of sensitive hipster vegans – cry at the very thought of the world’s bloodthirsty past.

This is the future imagined by comedian Simon Amstell in Carnage: a show that not only gets you giggling at the grotesque history of the meat industry, but genuinely makes you think about ever eating ‘flesh’ again.

Documentary time

What’s so slick about Amstell’s one-hour one-off programme, is how it uses film and interview clips to blend fact and fiction; past, present and future.

Kicking off in 1944 (with the establishment of the world’s first vegan society), Amstell wittily trips through WW2 meat rationing, the saturated fast food ads of the 70s, and to viral news bits, Babe and TV’s Fat Families.

All this makes ‘looking back’ at 2017 oddly convincing,

‘Few even considered eating animal flesh as anything less than essential for their health and happiness,’ remembers future Amstell of today.

A hit opera is told through the eyes of a cow. Pic: BBC/Carnage.
A hit opera is told through the eyes of a cow. Pic: BBC/Carnage.

A vegan vision

As the timeline rolls on, viewers see today’s celebrity vegans (Brad Pitt, Arianna Grande, Miley Cyrus) give way to sublime new leaders as veganism becomes cool.

There are Grime vegans. A cow gets put on the catwalk. Activists’ flowers pile up outside local butchers, and hemp outfits are showcased on Lorraine. A sexy new vegan chef rises to celebrity fame, and Martin Freeman stars in a breakthrough veganist drama.

This absurd new world takes shape, almost believably.

Who doesn’t want to see Albania win the European song contest with a vegan-themed song? Or Joanna Lumley narrating a sheep’s inner thoughts?

A warning, that’s just harsh enough

You might wonder if this all feels a bit preachy, but the show’s distinctly pro-vegan message is too deeply wrapped in satire to come off stuck-up.

Yes ‘lunatic’ Nigella Lawson and the celeb chef posse (Jamie, Gordon et al) get well-and-truly ripped, but so does David Cameron, Barack Obama – even the Queen.

Veggies don’t get off scot-free either.Even Peta, one of the world’s biggest animal rights organisations, gets critiqued. And in one of the shows most cutting lines we’re told:

“Paul McCartney launched Meat-free Monday, which today sounds almost as offensive as Ethnically-cleansing-free Tuesday.”

Ouch.

We love Carnage, but don’t watch it unless you’re okay with being put off meat (and you can take a good ribbing).

It’s only a matter of time ’til 2067.

Watch Simon Amstell: Carnage now on BBC iPlayer, and check out the trailer below…