My Mad Fat Diary – Episode 1

Well, this one’s confusing. It’s advertised as a comedy for people who like The Inbetweeners but doesn’t seem to have any jokes in it. Instead, the things that happen to Rachael “Rae” Evans could be funny but are done in a way that is just awkward to watch.

It opens with a meeting with Dr Gill, a seemingly nice guy who is taking part in a quite one sided conversation with a typically moody teenager who keeps rolling her eyes. No hint of her being at all ‘mad’ yet but, in the programme’s defence, that’s probably a good thing as it’s not being shoved in your face from the off. Spoiler: She eats a lot.

Rae being sent home from the hospital that’s been treating her mental illness for the last 4 months brings upset to her friend Tix. The main problem for Tix seems to be that nobody will tell her all their problems through the wall of a toilet cubicle like it’s a confessional. We also get to see her packing away her things and taking down her Oasis poster…because it’s set in the 90s.

After packing away her 90s things and leaving the hospital with the kind of facial expression you’d expect to see from a murderer, Rae learns that the outside world is a bit scary and she needs a reassuring push from Tix to get out there. Following this we see the kind of anger you’d expect from someone who had just been punched in the face when Rae’s mum turns up 40 minutes late to pick her up. Maybe she didn’t notice that she’d been nice enough to put ‘Design for Life’ on the car stereo (because it’s set in the 90s).

At her house (or hell, as she seems to think of it), Rae finds out about Karim, her Mum’s lover, who had been in the car boot during their journey. At no point is she impressed that he can speak Arabic, French and some English. She’s much more concerned about why he was in the boot. Turns out he’s hiding from ‘some people’. Immigration, to be precise. While the reveal of him in the boot could get a chuckle, the argument about the fact afterwards is just like watching a soap opera.

She’s been out of the loop for a while, so the story has to move onto the possible development of a social life. This involves going to the pub and meeting up with a group of people that we get very briefly introduced to halfway through Rae’s drive back from the hospital. They only seem to be in the pub to watch someone perform a song incredibly averagely and look amazed, and then it’s off to a chip shop where we get properly introduced to the gang.

There’s Chloe, an old friend of Rae’s that had been told she was in France for the past few months, and Izzy, who we don’t learn much about but seems a bit dim. Then there are the guys. All 3 of them are described as ‘slices’, with ‘man of her dreams’ Archie- the one who was singing in the pub- being an epic slice. So, I can only assume it’s a compliment. Chop seems instantly unlikable and Finn seems like he doesn’t like the group’s latest addition that much, calling her “Mae” several times.

There’s not much focus on them (unless you count fantasies about Archie) as the episode was about making sure you got to know about the main character and her struggle with life. Her struggle with life that doesn’t seem that bad. If anything, she just seems bratty. Whilst sleeping, she was awoken from her own sex fantasy by the sound of her mother and Karim doing…well, y’know. She then proceeds to shout at her mother for doing exactly what she’s so desperate to do then blames her “biggest screw up in the history of screw ups” mum for making her mental. Their story has not been explored for the audience to side with her, resulting in the rest of the episode being spent partly hoping everything goes wrong.

From then on everything just sort of happens. She meets up with everyone at the pub and puts ‘Sabotage’ by the Beastie Boys on the jukebox (because it’s set in the 90s) and impresses Archie with her amazing taste in music. She’s then invited to a pool party and a series of events results in her being seen in public in a swimsuit, wanting to go back to the hospital and being attacked with flowers by Tix so she’ll give the real world another try.

By the time she’s decided to try again at a normal life, you wish she wouldn’t. Any problems she’s hinted at don’t seem that major, certainly not worse than anything anyone else has. Instead of using this as an opportunity to make the programme relatable to the viewer, it’s approached in a way that just makes Rae appear completely self involved, this is not helped by a narration that’s being shouted throughout. There’s also an EastEnders style cliffhanger thrown in involving the discovery of her hospital wristband by rediscovered friend Chloe. It’s enough to get viewers returning based on the fact there’s nothing else worth watching on Monday nights, not for the quality of the first outing.


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