The year is 1996 in Lincolnshire, England, and Rae Earl has just been discharged from a mental hospital. My Mad Fat Diary is a British show now available on Hulu that follows her life, as well as her gang of friends, as she learns to deal with her day-to-day teenage problems. Her crazy mum, her quest for love, her search for a father figure, and her self-confidence are some of the main issues she deals with.
While the show initially sounds like your typical teenage drama, there are many unique characteristics that make it one-of-a-kind. It breaks down barriers set up by many tv shows. Rae unapologetically shows her sexual desires, even though she is overweight. She is also allowed to be desired for such reasons, without it seeming unordinary or comical, as it is often portrayed. Through the eyes of Rae, and her unfiltered thoughts she writes in her diary, the audience gains a perspective of what it is like for a young teenager to deal with obesity and mental illness. As one of the rawest, real depictions of these struggles in modern television, MMFD is a very important show educationally as well.
The series covers the full spectrum of emotions, yet is sensitive and considerate when addressing mental health. It normalizes people who suffer from eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. The show does not shy away from showing the darkest sides of mental illness and the importance of asking for help in times of need. Rae also deals with obesity and the daily struggles of fitting into a socially unaccepting society. From bullies at school that call her names, to her biggest bully (herself), she strives to accept herself for who she is. Many scenes that deal with this are real, relatable, and inspiring, and you feel second-hand pride when she is able to overcome them.
There is often a ‘love cures illness’ notion in teenage dramas; MMFD proves this idea false. While Rae finds herself in multiple romantic endeavors, she constantly fears that she is never good enough, and is held back by her low body confidence. The audience can clearly see that Rae is charismatic, clever, and worthy, yet she constantly compares herself to other girls who she thinks are physically more appealing. In her main relationship with Finn (one of her friends in the gang), we fall for their heart-warming story. Rae, however, is convinced that she isn’t, and she’ll never be good enough for him. When she decides to end things with Finn, we are shown that love isn’t always the answer, and definitely not a cure for mental illness. In reality, relationships are broken all the time due to the harsh toll mental illness can take on someone, and it is highly refreshing to see that portrayed in MMFD.
Contrasting with the more serious scenes are many witty, humorous moments that bring it back to Rae’s funny, light-hearted personality. From clever illustrations that overlay the show to the raunchy, hilarious comments Rae writes in her diary, this show is genuinely funny and captures the audience’s attention and affection.
If you are looking for a show that is truly binge-worthy with its raw, relatable characters and themes, engaging and unique storyline, and a killer 90’s alternative soundtrack, My Mad Fat Diary is the way to go.
Abby Leighton and My Mad Fat Diary Facebook