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Review: ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ Series One

my mad fat diary series 1

What? Did you think you could just slip out of the world with nothing happening because of it?

Recently released from a stint at a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt, Rae (Sharon Rooney) returns to her ordinary life in Lincolnshire but big changes are underway…

While struggling to get along with her mother (Claire Rushbrook) and accept her mother’s newfound romantic relationship with a Tunisian-born immigrant named Karim (Bamshad Abedi-Amin), Rae has to deal with the unspoken rift between her and best friend Chloe (Jodie Comer) and the impact of her suicide attempt. And then there’s the whole new group of friends she’s made.

There’s Archie, a blonde, professorial-type whom Rae develops a crush on immediately. It’s not until the next episode that she discovers that Archie is actually interested in men, despite taking her out on a date. Though upset at first, Rae becomes more understanding and Archie’s secret actually ends up bringing the two of them closer as friends.

The funny man of the group, Chop (whose real name is Arnold Peters), has a friendly relationship with the ditzy and happy-go-lucky Izzie. Both Rae and Chloe sense that there’s something more between them. (Sure enough, in the finale, Chop confesses his love for Izzie in front of a crowd of wedding gatherers and the two embrace.)

Finally, there’s Finn. Since Rae’s attentions were mostly on Archie during the first two episodes, we didn’t learn about Finn until a bit later in the series. Rae had an unfavorable impression of him – at first. But as she got to know him, she realized he was actually a really good guy (not to mention fit and “with an ass I just wanted to bite into like a violent dog”) and that they had a lot in common.

my mad fat diary

My Mad Fat Diary is one of those shows I wasn’t sure about at first. The show is set in the 90’s (there is a lot of Radiohead on the show’s soundtrack) and is based on the autobiographical book written by Rae Earl – who suffered from anxiety, delusions, and OCD as a child. I knew it was going to be a heavy show, given the fact that it’s dealing with heavy topics.

Then I watched the first episode and by the second, entitled “Touched”, I was hooked. The show is clever, sweet, funny, and not least of all charming. It’s all told from the point-of-view of the acerbic Rae, whose spunky attitude and witty narration breathes life into the show.

Throughout the series, Rae goes to sessions with Dr. Kester Gill (Ian Hart) – whom she refers to as simple Kester – at the hospital. You may remember him as Professor Quirrell in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. This was my favorite relationship in the series. I loved seeing how it developed from animosity on Rae’s part – and then as Rae began to open up more and more – to a genuine friendship where both sides could confide in the other.

In the finale, Tix (Sophie Wright) – Rae’s friend from the hospital – is still in recovery after overworking her body from too much exercise. On top of that, Rae’s diary goes missing and when she discovers that Chloe has it (and has read it – or at least parts of it), she isolates herself and nearly commits suicide for the second time.

Her saving grace, surprisingly enough, is one of her tormentors from an earlier episode. After hitting her with his car (accidentally), he takes her to the hospital where they proceed to have a heart-to-heart of sorts. They come to an understanding and both realize that the other one isn’t nearly all that bad.

By the end of the episode, and after a visit to Kester, Rae makes her way to her mother’s wedding reception. She puts on a brave face and makes a public confession.

Finn does some confessing of his own, to Rae’s utmost satisfaction.

One of the things I liked about My Mad Fat Diary is that it never got too preachy. It’s all told from the point-of-view of one person and we’re simply learning about her story and her personal struggle with weight, self-esteem, and mental health. Rae doesn’t claim to be all-knowing or to be the ‘voice of a generation’. She’s simply trying to do right by her friends and family, and hopefully, learn how to be properly happy.

Memorable Quotes

Rae: I’ll always hurt people. And I’ll always let people down. I’m so sorry, Mom. I just hate myself so much more than I could love anything. Well, I guess I did achieve something. I wrote the most boring suicide note in the history of the world.

Tix: What? Did you think you could just slip out of the world with nothing happening because of it? Do you think anyone could do that?

Kester: So, from now on people either accept you for who you are or they can fuck off. Because you’re an amazing person, Rae.

Rae: Most of the time, I don’t even think about what I’m writing – like when I write about my friends. When they make me angry. But it doesn’t mean I don’t love them.

Today it was announced that My Mad Fat Diary would be getting a second series.

What are your thoughts on the series? The finale? How has the show affected you?