Last night, E4 aired the last ever episode of My Mad Fat Diary.
The show followed the coming-of-age of Rachel (Rae) Earl, as she suffered through all of the usual teenage problems: friendships, relationships, weight, anxiety over sex, low self-esteem, exam pressure. And all of this, while battling her mental health issues. It was based on the 2007 book My Fat Mad Teenage Diary; a collection of teenage diaries kept by the real-life Rae Earl.
The first series chronicled her tentative return to the world. Released from a four-month stint in a psychiatric hospital, following her attempted suicide, Rae came home to discover that fitting back in wasn’t going to be easy. But then, she’s a girl who never quite felt like she belonged.
My Mad Fat Diary was a show that really spoke to me. I would have been in the school year below Rae, fat, misunderstood, stumbling through the turbulent teenage years feeling like an outsider. Even the show’s soundtrack could have been pieced together from my own record collection. But that’s the thing about this show; it speaks to the teenage girl in all of us.
Because Rae is an everywoman. The difficulties she faced have been faced by teenagers for decades before, and decades after. And these difficulties were discussed in a frank, no-holds-barred kind of way. Nothing was dressed up, or hidden. The teenage years are a battlefield, and My Mad Fat Diary never tried to sugar-coat that.
It was that raw honesty that gave this show its loyal fandom.
Series 3, a much-reduced three-parter, saw Rae approaching adulthood, as she sat her A-Levels, and struggled with the prospect of leaving everything and everyone she knew, to go to university. It marked the end of her therapy sessions with Dr. Kester, and the start of a whole bunch of new emotional minefields for her to navigate.
But, ultimately, the final episode saw her blossom from a self-obsessed teenager, to a self-aware woman, ready to set things right with everyone. Stronger, smarter, and ready to face anything.
In a moving, and beautiful montage of clips from the show, snippets of Rae’s diary, and Kester’s therapy sessions, viewers, at long last, witnessed Rae figuring it all out, and finally accepting herself. All of herself. Even the mad bits.
“I’m going to stop waiting for somebody to come and save me.”
And as her groups of friends, ‘the gang’, drifted in their separate directions, following their own futures, Rae even grasped the inevitability of that. “It’s just life, isn’t it?” she told best friend Chloe.
With three series that have been as turbulent as teenage hormones, the final show tied everything together with hope, positivity, and an assurance that everything would turn out just fine. And I’m going to miss Rae. I’ll miss that comfort that everyone finds life confusing, and frightening. That everyone’s just making it up as they go along.