BAFTA Awards 2014 | Chiwetel Ejiofor wins Best Actor for “12 Years a Slave"
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Steve McQueen photographed by Peter Hapak.
Dear Diary, there are two things you should know about me: I’m still fat… and I’m still mad.
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I’ve got this feeling that I’m not used to. It fizzes like cherry cola and tingles like kisses up my neck.. I think it’s called happiness.
-Rae, My Mad Fat Diary (via grimshowbot)
My Mad Fat Diary Review
For a lot of teenage girls, watching My Big Fat Diary is like watching your teenage self be plucked out of your own life and planted in a different world where everything is different and nothing is different. Rae Earl is the girl who’s usually in the background on teen shows; she’s usually the girl used as a sympathetic side-story to show how wonderful and generous the beautiful lead girl is (usually someone like Chloe) or how cruel others can be; she’s never the lead. She’s never the girl with the cute guy. Her pain is never her own, her pain is usually a tool for a grander story for grander people. In this show, however, Rae—a real girl in the real world and an a-typical girl in the world of fiction—is front and center. It’s refreshing and mildly triggering.
This show itself handles her character wonderfully. Sharon Rooney plays her masterfully and the first episode of season two highlights this well. The new season draws you in with a bit of a cliché: the magical summer that can’t possibly be real, where everything is perfect and everyone is happy. Rae is avoiding reality for as long as she can, but as summer winds down, she has no choice but to face it. She’s been avoiding the death of her friend Tix, and also the oncoming school year. Of course, Rae has every reason to be in her own happy little cliché, she’s managed to land the gorgeous and endearing, Finn. And of course, being the horny rascal that she is, she wants to do it as soon as possible. I’ll not go into all the little details that gets us to the trailer where Rae’s dreams are about to come true; what’s more interesting to me is that it doesn’t. The episode quickly progresses from Rae, the confident girl buying lingerie to seduce her boyfriend, to the Rae, the girl feigning a headache so she can put off him having to see her naked.
This is one of the things that drew me to this show. I don’t typically enjoy teen shows, I always find them melodramatic and unrealistic, but My Mad Fat Diary might as well be a documentary with a great soundtrack (great music on this show by the way). The show isn’t about a girl with crushes and friends hanging out doing teenage girl things who also happening to be fat… this show is about a girl who is mentally ill; a girl in pain, who has issues with self-loathing, abandonment, insecurities, anxiety, and depression. It’s also about therapy and support systems and dealing with the worst of mental health crisis’ like suicide and self-harm. All aspect of the show is framed around the mental health of Rae, not her weight. Her weight is just one of the symptoms of her mental anguish and that’s what’s fascinating. When the weight of a character is an issue, it’s usually the only issue; the problem is food, lack of exercise, discipline, etc. It never goes deeper. This show does and it’s heartbreaking and wonderful to see.
Rae’s weight is a symptom of a larger problem. It’s the easiest symptom to focus on because it presents the most problems in her day-to-day teenage life. She’s not sexy enough for her boyfriend. Everyone is staring at them. She’s not good enough. She can’t buy the right lingerie. The ubiquitous poster of the blonde, skinny, perfect woman that haunts her throughout this episode acts in two ways: it reminds Rae about her perceived shortcoming (not skinny, not perfect); but it also acts like a ghost haunting Rae’s every step, saying that she can’t ignore her problems, that no matter where she goes, she’s going to have to deal with it, because it’s always going to be there no matter how hard she tries to ignore it—the “it” being Tix, her fear of rejection, and her fear of being taunted again once college begins.
Rae isn’t every girl. She is a very specific girl; a girl that has largely been ignored and whose story is vastly complex and challenging and one that cuts to extremely deep and personal issues. In that regard, she’s one of the more realistic female characters to ever cross our screens. My Mad Fat Diary takes viewers on a deeper journey into the psyche of a teenage girl who doesn’t fit into the mold set forth by magazines and television. In that respect it might seem like a cliché, but once you remove that layer of overused premise, you begin to see the manner in which this show is different than the typical melodramatic teen show. It’s immensely complex, rich, deep, and I’d even go as far as to say one of the most brilliant shows on television. It’s one of those shows that remind you that television can be really, really, really good. I highly recommend it.