By Ally Rosbotham – Arts and Media Editor
As the colder weather and shorter days approach, there is nothing like a cosy night in with the perfect show to binge watch the evening away to. In order to help you out with the ever difficult decision of figuring out what to watch, this week I’m recommending you Channel 4’s “My Mad Fat Diary” (2013-2015). With the show recently being added to Netflix UK and Ireland, now is the perfect time to check out this fantastic teen drama set in the 90s.
Somewhere between the gritty realism of “Skins” and light hearted situational comedy of “Fresh Meat”, “My Mad Fat Diary” strikes the perfect balance between addressing a variety of serious issues without the romanticisation, whilst simultaneously being witty with brilliant characters and meaningful plot lines. The show follows Rae Earl and her unfiltered perspective on the world, following a stint in a psychiatric hospital. As she begins to transition back into everyday life, she comes to deal with all the trials and tribulations that come with being a teenage girl during this time. As viewers, we see, hear and feel everything Rae experiences via her diary she tells all to, as she writes about and discusses issues such as wavering mental health, family problems, and boy and friendship drama. At times, Rae’s honesty is almost cringe inducing, however this only adds further to the comedic quality of the show and aids the characters believability.
The characters throughout “My Mad Fat Diary” are one of the most commendable features of the show, with characters like Rae, Chloe and Rae’s Mum; Linda; illustrating how beautifully complex characters can be. This only further aids the issues and topics that come to light throughout the shows three season run discussing them with the weight and seriousness such topics deserve. The characters are all flawed and completely human in the best way, and it feels rewarding to watch them progress throughout the episodes. Rae provides the perfect example of the flawed female lead character. Throughout the seasons, she makes questionable decisions and her attitude to herself and others will almost drive you insane at times. However, she has a innate likability which finds you in a position where you can’t help but root for her, as these qualities just adds to how raw and real she reads on screen. Throughout the three seasons, the show treads a fine line between the darker, more serious issues and the light hearted moments. Alongside this, the realism portrayed in the topics of mental health, friendships and fitting in sets “My Mad Fat Diary” aside from your average teen drama.
To top it all off, it’s fantastic soundtrack only further pulls you into Rae Earl’s world. FromOasis, Blur, Pulp and many more from Britpop’s prime to Mazzy Star and Bikini Kill – if you’re unsure about watching, take my word for it when I say the music throughout is one of the best uses of soundtracking in the TV dramas i’ve seen so far. “My Mad Fat Diary” is definitely a hidden gem of a TV drama that can be easily missed if you didn’t catch it or get caught up in the hype whilst it aired, but it definitely is a must watch if you’re a fan of teen dramas, complex and fallible characters and the 90s aesthetic. Happy binging!