What is Clique About?
Remember the conspicuous wealth, the haute-couture fashion, the jaw-dropping scandals of Gossip Girl? Now imagine if Serena and Blair hadn’t shied away from the hedonism: if their parties took place around sumptuous swimming pools, and were fuelled by a smorgasbord of class-As and some skewed views of feminism. Welcome to your new TV obsession for 2017: Clique. Created by Skins writer Jess Brittain, the BBC Three drama shows a university experience like no other, with a glamorous thriller in the upper echelons of Edinburgh high society. But if your student experience was more Glen’s Vodka than Veuve Clicquot, the best friends at the heart of the drama, Holly and Georgia, will make you feel more at home. The two ‘regular’ students find themselves drawn like moths to a flame by ‘the clique’.
The haughty band of the show’s title are heel-clicking, high-achieving, slightly older students, who spend their free days as interns at a mysterious corporation. Think Mean Girls in Roland Mouret. In the first episode, as they are portrayed selecting which younger girls they want to join their ranks at outlandish social gatherings, we are also introduced to enigmatic lecturer Jude (Sherlock’s Louise Brealey), branding modern feminism ‘clicktivism’ – lazy online activism.
The Clique Cast
Speaking to Grazia, Aisling Franciosi, who plays Georgia (but is best known for chasing Jamie Dornan around in The Fall), says, ‘The first thing I thought when I read it was, “This is going to get a reaction on Twitter!” It highlighted how confusing the whole issue of feminism is. Particularly among girls, I hope it sparks conversations about feminism, how they view themselves and what ambition is for women.’
To start with, at least, the decadent provocateurs go unchecked, says creator Jess. ‘For the privileged girls, it’s much easier to use drugs and get good drugs and it not have big consequences. Gone are the days where if you show someone drinking underage you have to then show them vomiting.’
Newcomer Synnøve Karlsen, who plays Holly, was daunted at tackling plotlines involving drugs and revenge sex in the first 45 minutes of her TV career. ‘But I felt like it was an honest portrayal of a girl at uni being liberated and discovering things, so I didn’t want to shy away from it.’
Jess says she was keen to underline the difference between two very different sides to the experience of being away from home for the first time, and how it can see some swept along, and others left behind. ‘Edinburgh’s one of those places that attracts those very self-assured women from the South East and is set against a much more normal background and people who come from other places.’
It’s self-assurance which is key to the breakdown of the girls’ friendship. ‘My female relationships were complicated and of importance. They were the ones that caused all the drama,’ says Jess of her own university experience. ‘Yes, it’s a thriller and we’re hanging bigger things out there to be questioned, but really it’s about realising your best mate might not be as compatible for you as you thought.’
When Is Clique On?
Clique lands on BBC Three on 5 March.
‘My education in snobbery at the real edinburgh university’
Fashion journalist and brand consultant Katherine Ormerod, who runs anti-perfectionism platform workworkwork.co shares her knowledge of the university cliques
The ‘rahs’ or as the local population calls them, ‘yahs’, had a huge presence in Edinburgh University culture. There were several different cliques, and the gang of kids from major public schools de nitely formed a set which was mainly closed to anyone from outside their social strata.
There were the Hunt Ball types who went to shooting parties at their estates in pearls and cashmere.They were often Scottish, but spoke with a cut-glass English accent. Then there were the King’s Road Boozers – Bullingdon Club-type boys who called taxi drivers Jeeves and drank until they ‘chundered’, and girls who wore silk from ‘Indiyyya’ with jangly silver jewellery from ‘Zanzibaaar’. There were also the Sports Posh types – concerned about rugby, going on the lash and wearing wide-leg jeans.
My personal association with the cliques ebbed towards the end of my uni career. I realised if your parents didn’t know theirs, you probably weren’t going to be that close. Which school you went to, who you knew there and where you ski are the only gates of entry into Edinburgh’s upper-class cliques.