ONTD

2:23 am - 02/10/2013

Have you been watching … My Mad Fat Diary?

E4's show about a teenager with mental health difficulties is smart, sympathetic and hilarious – combining riotous fun with challenging issues



The trailer for My Mad Fat Diary seemed to proclaim it as a celebration of stereotypes and sex, soundtracked by Pulp. It did this dark comedy-drama set in late-90s Lincolnshire something of a disservice – from the very first episode we spent with overweight 16-year-old Rae, readjusting to life after a secret spell on a psychiatric ward, it has been clear that E4's show was determined to move beyond cliche.



The onscreen adventures of Rae are based on the real-life adolescent diaries of Rae Earl – and the moving mix of ups and downs has transfered well to television, with occasional animations and dream sequences helping to retain the diary feel. Thanks to some artistic licence, events have been moved forward 10 years from the 80s, allowing for a Britpop soundtrack, 30p Kit Kats and even a pool party.

Despite being 24, actor Sharon Rooney manages to capture the awkwardness of Earl's sensitive and brilliantly funny 16-year-old self (choice quote: "Dr Nick, expert moistener of lady gardens"). Rooney eye-rolls and whines her way through therapy sessions with stoic counsellor Kester (Ian Hart) – who should help banish all memories of bad telly therapists– but also portrays Rae's moments of instability with integrity. Self-harm isn't given a glossy treatment, with recurring roles from her hospital friends Tix (Sophie Wright) and Danny Two Hats (Darren Evans) reminding us of the potential for relapse on the journey to recovery.

Claire Rushbrook is acerbic as Rae's anti-Shirley Valentine mum who spends her days in bed with her illegal-immigrant lover and berates her daughter over trivialities. Their tough relationship – love/hate, undercut by denial and deceit – has provided a compelling contrast to the storylines between Rae and her friends. Last week we saw Rae uncover the truth about the postcards she had been receiving from her absent dad; in fact composed by her mum, complete with inspirational quotes.

One of the greatest strengths of this show is its refusal to pity its protagonist. When Rae meets bitchy "best friend" Chloe's new mates for the first time – laddish bikers Chop and Finn, "half geek, half rock god" Archie and girly Izzy – they are, in the words of the Suede song "the beautiful ones". Except that Rae isn't the ugly one by default. Rather, she wins friends and even an invite to an Oasis gig by being smart, sweet and having taste in both music and banter to rival the boys.

For every predictable humiliation – Rae getting stuck on a slide at the aforementioned pool party, the bullying she receives from a group of boys who nickname her "Jabba" – there is another hard-hitting twist. [SPOILERS FOR AIRED EPISODES] - Who would have thought that Chloe would have an abortion, or that Rae's biggest obstacle in her quest to lose her virginity was that Archie was gay? (The latter plot was unveiled in a scene that was as heartbreaking as it was hilarious, when he was caught spying on men at the leisure centre.)

My Mad Fat Diary combines riotous fun with challenging issues, in a setting that provides a welcome nostalgia trip for viewers over 30, but is still recent enough for those whose teenage years have been defined by Facebook and The X Factor. Monday night's episode deals with both a rave and Rae's decision to come off her medication. And while other shows may have struggled with light and the shade in such close proximity, My Mad Fat Diary has no such problems.

This is a series about so much more than those two titular adjectives, or a tagline that labels Rae as "Sixteen, 16-stone and desperate for a shag". Will Rae end up with Finn (Niro Mirallegro, playing a very different type of teen to his Hollyoaks emo Newt)? Will her friends finally find out her secret and, crucially, will they care? With so many questions yet to be answered, this is been a diary very much worth sneaking a peek at.



source - guardian uk blog


SUCH A FUCKING FANTASTIC SHOW! i just marathoned the first 4 eps this morning and i'm already obsessed.
mirandagirll 10th-Feb-2013 03:30 pm (UTC)
tumblr was just the first time I heard about it, and that was through gifs.
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