Sometimes I wonder if the world would have been a better place if My Mad Fat Diary was on TV when I was younger, and boy, it would have helped a lot. Coming across a TV show that takes an honest look at being a teenager: from the insecurities, to the anxiety, and the never-ending struggle to fit in, My Mad Fat Diary offers a fresh perspective on being an adolescent that is real, genuine and overall relatable.
After watching the first series and being completely blown away by it, I was extremely excited about Series 2 coming out this year. A lot of questions were left unanswered: what happened to Tix? What did Finn really write on Rae’s back? What’s next for the gang?
While Rae (Sharon Rooney) might seem happy because now she has a group of friends, Finn (Nico Mirallegro) is her boyfriend, and her relationship with her mother (Claire Rushbrook) and Karim has gotten better, there are still many things going on that she needs to deal with. The most important one: going to college.
First of all, this time around we know Rae, but we get to know the gang better. Before, Chloe (Jodie Comer) was the center of the attention, but now that the gang is going to college, she becomes invisible and struggles to stand out in the crowd. Even Archie (Dan Cohen), who we all know is gay and in the closet, becomes the victim of Chloe’s approaches and he tries his best to ignore them. Archie also has to deal with staying in the closet now that college starts and the battle to be cool with the other guys at school. Now, since the pressure to fit in is even bigger, Rae and Izzy (Ciara Baxendale) sign a Shagus Pactus, aka their promise to lose their virginity days away from starting college. You’d think that just because Rae has mental issues, that this would be difficult only for her, but Izzy is as insecure as Rae about her body and also to finally move to the next step in her relationship with Chop (Jordan Murphy).
And then we have Finn. Oh, Finn. Where do I even begin? We don’t know if he really wrote “I’m an emu” or not in Rae’s back, but truth to be told, he’s everything I expected him to be in a relationship with Rae. It’s so evident that he likes and cares about her so much that it hurts. He’s the only person that’s not concerned all the time if she’s okay, he simply likes her for being who she is.
Sadly, Rae doesn’t notice this. Instead, she wonders why he would be with someone that looked like her, what are people thinking about them together, etc. These thoughts come to her mind at times when she’s trying to be intimate with Finn and realizes that he’s way out of her league and doesn’t get why he likes her.
During the episode, Rae has flashbacks about her horrible experience in the past at a school setting and how she really is not ready to deal with the same kind of scrutiny again, especially now, when she’s dating Finn and she’d rather not be seen with him to avoid people making fun of them. On a side note: I noticed there’s a sort of parallel between Rae and her mother when she tells Rae that she sees people looking at her and Karim wondering how a young man like him could be with her.
Rae is a character that resonates with me and possibly with everyone I know that has watched the show, whether or not they are overweight or have mental issues, it’s easy to relate to a character whose thoughts and feelings are so effectively portrayed on the screen by the great Sharon Rooney. I’m often surprised at the way Rae reacts to some events because is the same way I would too, just like is so raw and real to see her have self-doubt . She’s funny, smart, caring, and deserves so much more in life, if it only was so easy for her to see herself the way we see her.
After skipping the first days of school, including her very first day when she set the alarm off and we met Liam (Turlough Convery), who’s also part of a therapy group led by the wonderful Kester (Ian Hart). Ah, Kester, I wish you were my therapist. I believe that some of the best bits of the show, besides all the great scenes between Rae and Finn, are those with Kester at the therapy sessions. At first, Kester wants Rae to discuss a subject that they had both been avoiding, but he waited until Rae was ready to talk about it. In the meantime, he did things such as playing a word association game (video below) that spoke volumes about was really going on through Rae’s mind. By the end of the episode, Rae’s so-called happiness collapses on her, and she finally comes to terms about Tix’s death and both her and Kester are doing their best to cope about it. By the way, totally calling that Liam character as Rae’s love interest.
I’m 110% sure that if this show was released when I was 16-17, that I would have been more confident in myself. However, that doesn’t mean I love the show any less. I’m so glad it’s back with more great stories to tell about Rae and her journey. This show manages to have me laughing hysterically one minute, and crying the next, all the while, feeling completely identified with Rae. Tom Bidwell (writer of MMFD), you master, you. I hope that as series 2 progresses, that the soundtrack keeps being badass, the doodles are even more hilarious, but more than anything, that Rae is able to love herself, to be strong, and move past the obstacles along her way.
My Mad Fat Diary airs Mondays at 10pm on E4 (UK)