From 2013 to 2015, each time we heard the long-lasting opening of ‘One to One other’ by The Charlatans, we could not assist however affiliate it with E4’s My Mad Fats Diary. Riddled with 90s nostalgia, the anguished tones of Blur, Oasis and The Stone Roses – to call however a number of – offered the proper soundtrack to this coming of age teen drama. My Mad Fats Diary follows 16-year-old Rachel ‘Rae’ Earl and her struggles along with her psychological well being, weight, physique picture, relationships, friendships, sexuality, and common makes an attempt to fumble via life. Different TV exhibits and flicks that cope with such matters embrace Woman, Interrupted, 13 Causes Why, Perks of Being a Wallflower, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and plenty of extra. Out of those examples, some are cherished, some are hated – some get it proper, and a few do not. Nonetheless, all of them concentrate on the ‘fall’ into psychological sickness, the descent into melancholy and institutionalization. The place these examples doc the downward spiral, My Mad Fats Diary defies them by telling us about getting again up.
From its very first episode, we see Rae go away institutionalization and try to return to a ‘regular’ life. Set in Stanford, Lincolnshire, the present feels very small-scale and intimate. The primary areas are the therapist’s workplace, the native pub, college, the chippy, and Rae’s home – nearly all of the locations that really feel acquainted to us who grew up in a small, British city in our youth. The aesthetic and art-style of the present continues this intimacy – visible results taking up the fashion of drawings and scribblings, we actually are allowed full entry to Rae’s diary, internal ideas, and emotions.
As talked about, the present is all about adjusting to the world, after you already felt ‘damaged’. We’re seeing Rae try to regulate and navigate her psychological sickness, on high of all the opposite struggles of adolescence. We see her reconnect with previous buddies and make new ones, all with their very own issues and dramas. We do, in the end, sympathize with Rae, even when she makes it onerous for us a lot of the time. Nonetheless, the present’s writing takes care to all the time keep the truth that we’re all solely human. Rae’s sickness just isn’t used as an excuse or ‘get out of jail free card’ for poor habits, however as a motivation and motive to enhance herself. There are moments of battle, significantly along with her mom – however they’re all the time adopted y a real, heartfelt apology. Furthermore, her psychological sickness by no means defines her – as she comes to find.
There may be the overwhelming worry of her time within the establishment, and, by proxy, her points being found, and being labeled as a “freak” by her buddies. Nonetheless, she learns that that doesn’t detract from what they love about her: her impeccable music style, her sardonic humorousness, her compassionate loyalty in the direction of these she cares about, her potential to down a pint in seconds. It’s these items which are the material of her persona, the very fact she is mentally unwell usually overshadows this in her thoughts, however by no means within the thoughts of the viewer.
After all, any present about psychological well being tackles tough matters. My Mad Fats Diary offers with points corresponding to binge-eating, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. Nonetheless, the present is all the time cautious to take care of the stability of overtly displaying the viewers and implying it to them – it does a masterful job of constructing these matters hard-hitting, with out depicting them in obscene or probably triggering methods. The sound design that goes into these specific moments is immaculate. It isn’t romanticized or overdone. In our eyes, these traumatic moments are triggered by one thing mildly embarrassing. However the present is all the time trustworthy to Rae’s perspective, we empathize and perceive that Rae finds these moments crippling and world-imploding.
The problems within the collection are by no means melodramatic. The writing actually does itself so many favors – by no means attempting too onerous to be profound or relatable, Rae swears, she’s indignant, she’s witty – she is a young person, not only a weak and obscure illustration of 1. Moreover, from a feminine perspective, it touches on matters related immediately: plus-sized ladies combating their bodily look and sexual attractiveness, the objectification of ladies, platonic friendships between women and men, ladies being outspoken, ladies and femininity. These are all points that ladies struggled with in the course of the 90s and nonetheless ring true within the current day.
Sure, the present has a satisfying ending, but it surely is not actually an “ending” in any respect. Rae’s life will go on, and she’s going to proceed to have peaks and valleys like an everyday teen. Nonetheless, she now has the teachings and the instruments to raised cope with her feelings and tendencies. That is what psychological well being is all about: it is not about eradicating or “curing” feelings, it is about studying how to deal with them in a method that works for us. That is the core message that present leaves us with and introduces us to from the very starting. Rae nonetheless has her points however can face them, able to tackle the world as an grownup.
The basic elements of her persona have not modified, however she has, certainly, matured. She nonetheless loves her music, she nonetheless has her wit, however she is extra collected and conscious of others’ points, in addition to her personal. It is a bittersweet conclusion, however one which maintains the present’s realism. Moreover, Rae can concentrate on the nice occasions and reminiscences and cleanse herself of the dangerous. My Mad Fats Diary is actually among the better of British TV, reminding us that we do not all the time must maintain calm, however we are able to all the time keep it up.
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