It is with a heavy heart and a great deal of ugly crying that I say My Mad Fat Diary series 2 has reached its conclusion. With no word yet on whether or not we’re going to be treated to another series filled with the vivacious yet angst-ridden Rae and her raucous hijinks with her ever likable inner circle, I guess all I can do now is pray to all of the goddesses and keep my fingers and by extension all of my limbs crossed until there’s an announcement made on the matter. Or, I suppose I could keep busy in a way that’s likely to be a whole lot less stiff and awkward. OR, better yet, I could talk about what I liked about season 2? Yes, I like that last idea best.
If you’re not famaliar with My Mad Fat Diary (If not, why not? Get out of here. GO. WATCH. NOW.) it tells the story of Rae Earl, a 16 year old girl from Lincolnshire who has just left a psychiatric hospital where she spent 4 months after she tried to kill herself. I know, it doesn’t sound like the most lighthearted of shows, and honestly, it isn’t. It isn’t all doom and gloom though, the charm of MMFD is that it manages to deal with a lot of pertinent and sensitive topics in a way that is both funny and relatable, but at the same time is in no way making light of the issues brought up in each episode. It’s a really hard balance to strike, but boy does MMFD get it right.
Series one of the show focused on Rae’s struggles with making friends and coming to terms with dealing with her mental illness outside of her comfort zone. And it was perfect. Okay, maybe perfect is too strong a word, but it comes pretty damn close. I had never before seen a TV series like it, something that portrays girls as -shock horror – real people! Real people with desires, insecurities, that are also funny as hell. Rae is loud, brash, she masturbates, she’s boy crazy, yet she’s also incredibly insecure and shy. Even if you have never had any mental health issues or any brushes with self harm, I guarantee you will be able to find something you can relate to here. There’s something so universal about Rae’s very specific situation – I know there was several times when I was watching and I felt like I had been transported right back to my teenage years. I feel like a good way of describing the show is that it’s like Skins, but if Skins was in anyway realistic (WHAT 16 YEAR OLD HAS THE MEANS TO PARTY THAT MUCH, I ASK YOU.)
Okay, enough about season one. How on earth did season two even compare? My answer to that would be that it compared pretty well. Pretty gosh-darn damn good spiffingly well, if we’re going to get all technical about it. While, season 1 was all about Rae learning to cope outside of her comfort zone, well, so is season 2, but this time there is a little more pressure piled on. We learn that Rae never really had the greatest time in school, in fact, the thought of it causes her no small amount of anxiety, she even finds herself running out on the first day before she has a panic attack, causing the fire alarm to go off (yay, more anxiety inducing stuff!) While season one was about Rae gaining confidence, learning that she has the right to live and that she is a good person, season 2 is all about maintaining this healthy frame of mind. Rae quickly learns that maintaining confidence can be just as difficult as building it.
MMFD’s charm isn’t only in the character of Rae (although she is damn awesome), the supporting class also deserves a mention. Archie is an all-round nice guy, Finn is super sweet (and gawjus), Chloe can be a bit of a so-and-so but she genuinely cares for Rae, Izzy is adorable and Chop is CHOP. Well, that’s them on a surface level, there’s far more to them than that. Series 2 also spends a great deal of time developing Chloe as a character, which was really interesting and an all round great move. Admittedly, I had always dismissed her as merely being nothing more than a bit of a vapid bitch *bold Cora* but of course there is more to her than that – more testament to the show’s great writing. We’re also introduced to a cast of new characters, who perhaps aren’t as good for Rae’s self confidence as her main pals are.
There isn’t a whole lot more I can say without getting into severely spoilerish territory, except that series 2 expandson the myriad of issues explored in season 1, and then some. Themes like weight, abortion, sex, love, friendship, anxiety and so much more are addressed in a way that isn’t heavy, but still packs a punch. You don’t have to be in a teenage mindset to relate either. I know earlier I said that it brought me right back to my teenage years, but there are a lot of things explored throughout the show that I can still relate to, unfortunately. Rae’s issues with eating in front of people, her rejection of love and sex purely because she doesn’t want to be naked in front of some one else, her general social anxiety; these are all things that strike a chord with me, even now.
It goes to show that while teenage years can indeed be a dark time in a girl’s life, growing into an adult doesn’t magically erase all your weird neuroses and paranoia. As MMFD tells us, everyone is always going to have their own personal issues; everyone is weird in their own way. Rae is never going to be completely “normal”, but that’s okay – self acceptance is the first step towards happiness. If that’s not a healthy message in a show aimed at teens then I don’t know what is.
Oh, and the soundtrack is just the greatest. If 90’s music is your thang (particularly britpop) you’ll be in eargasm heaven.