If you do not take into account the fact that sometimes they kill off characters way too lightly (Downton Abbey), or that they make you wait for the next season what only seems to be forever (Sherlock), or that they might ruin the entire show after its third season (Misfits), British do get a lot of things right. My Mad Fat Diary is no exception! With its fresh take on teenagers back in the 90’s, the show tackles serious problems relevant nowadays through the eyes of a very sarcastic and funny girl named Rae.
What made me like the show before I even saw it, was the fact that the protagonist of the series represents the type of girl that is usually left behind, the kind that is either stupid-kind-of-funny or pathetic – or at least that’s what I’ve observed. Rae is overweight, and not that Ugly Betty kind of curvy overweight, but real kind. And that fact alone is refreshing enough to make My Mad Fat Diary stand out from all the other teenage series I’ve seen before. I’m quite familiar with TV and honestly, it’s the first time I actually feel like the plot of an unpopular and self-destructive teenager fits the visual criteria. I’m not saying Sharon Rooney, who’s portrayal of Rae is her first ever acting job, is ugly, I’m saying she looks real and that is a big compliment. I can’t imagine how many times I’ve seen pretty characters whine about their looks and laughed at the irony of that statement – even though it was meant to be sad. Rae is definitely not ironic, she never comes across as fake because of her pain and her character feels somehow more authentic because of Rooney.
Now, without giving away spoilers, which is quite the task considering the first season only consists of 6 episodes, I’ll try to rail in some of the issues the series deals with. The first time we meet Rae, she’s on her way back home from an institution after an incident where she tried to hurt herself. This is a very big part of the series in general but it somehow never really over powers the lightens and joy My Mad Fat Diary brings on the table. Rae writes her feelings into her diary but she of course is still seeing her psychologist Kester (Ian Hart), as well as being very close to Tix (Sophie Wright), who’s still in the institution due to her anorexia. That’s sort of the sad side of Rae, the part she keeps hidden from her newly found friends that will represent the happy part of the life. First off we have Chloe (Jodie Comer), the childhood friend, who introduces Rae to a group she starts to hang out with regularly. There is Archie (Dan Cohen), Finn (Nico Mirallegro), Izzy (Ciara Baxendale) and Chop (Jordan Murphy): all together they make a very colorful group of teenagers and it’s interesting to get to know them through Rae. Each of them have a story line of their own but that would mean spoilers and I’m not that awful.
But in general, I would say that there are problems and issues, secrets and some drama with Rae’s mum (Claire Rushbrook), but the overall feel of My Mad Fat Diary is very uplifting. But don’t be fooled with the comedy side of the show, in between the lines there are certainly life lessons to be learned. Moving on, since the entire series is actually based on actual diaries of Rae Earl (she’s a British writer), the show has incorporated the elements of an actual diary with the visuals – we sometimes see hilarious writings and occasional raunchy drawings on the screen. It is very bold, I mean, Rae isn’t afraid to tell the viewers about her crush on the doctor and since it’s a British series, sex is never just something floating around – it is mentioned, a lot. That’s the fun part of My Mad Fat Diary, it is just so honest and when I keep thinking about the fact that it is based on actual dairies of a teenager, it feels even more realistic. Therefore, My Mad Fat Diary is an awesome series set in the late 90’s revolving around teenagers with problems that are just as relevant now as they were back then. As a big plus, the cast is well put together with Rooney in the lead as if she was born to act. I also don’t mind the fact that Nico Mirallegro as Finn has that something something – I mean, as far as I know, a little eye-candy never hurt anyone.
After writing the previous about the show I went back and re-watched the entire season, cause it’s just six episodes and that’s nothing. Still, even after seeing it two times I think it’s a refreshing show. I think it’s partly because it’s the typical British humor that makes everything a bit more funnier than usual. Besides, I forgot to mention the music! Oh my god, the music! The show takes place in the late 90’s so you can imagine the soundtrack as you think back to that time (which for me was my childhood) – yes, there will be some nostalgic giggles here and there when you hear a song that has been on the back of your mind for years. And there’s nothing bad about it.