I scrolled by this little gem of a gifset on my
(source of all things awesome) tumblr dashboard and just HAD to know where it came from.
How can you not want to know who that cute guy is, what his relationship with that awesome girl is about, and why that little conversation is so flippin’ adorable? I HAD TO KNOW.
Cue internet sleuthing. A little tumblr diving told me it was My Mad Fat Diary, in the middle of its 6-episode season, and it was based on a real diary about a teenage girl named Rae in 1996 with mental issues, her friends, her relationships and her generation. Yes.
I was so excited when I found it. Except, you can’t watch it outside of the UK. This is where I assure all of you that I am an internet goody-goody. I don’t pirate, I even feel bad using Spotify. But sometimes, my self-control gets the best of me, and in those moments I thank the wonderful people who do wonderful things like upload wonderful shows to YouTube and DailyMotion so we can all bask in their awesomeness, and so I can tell you all the reasons YOU MUST WATCH IT.
British 90s Nostalgia
Maybe I’ve never been to England, but – like Rae (Sharon Rooney) and everyone in the gang on the show – I was 16 in 1996, and that makes everything about this show a nostalgia goldmine. It’s like they pulled it all directly out of my 8th-10th grade years. The fashion: chokers and Dwayne Wayne sunglasses, denim spaghetti strap mini-dresses and baby tees, rollneck sweaters, hunter green and navy Tommy Hilfiger shirts, grunge plaid tied around your waist. CK1. Going to raves. Spin the bottle. I’m pretty sure my best friend had the same alarm clock as Rae. Really bad teenage sex advice. Caesar cuts and tiny backpacks. Being worried about Toxic Shock Syndrome. That horrible time before everyone had cell phones. The detail paid to the decade is awesome.
This could easily fit in the “nostalgia” category, but it deserves its own mention. Music is a huge part of Rae’s life and a big part of the show. Pulp. The Cure. The Stone Roses. Blur. Bjork. Mazzy Star. The Beastie Boys. Depeche Mode. The Smiths. Radiohead. The Bluetones. A ton of British bands I’d never heard of, but now love. And of course, OASIS. I mean, a TON of Oasis.
Mainstream or indie or obscure-to-Americans, doesn’t matter. The music is like another character. Oh, and episode 5 has the best use of a Cure song in a scene just EVER. Here’s a tiny, spoilery taste of where it is. I’m crying just THINKING about To Wish Impossible Things and this scene and Rae’s state of mind. GAH.
I could do an entire post on each character in Rae’s group of friends, but this is already too long. There’s Chloe, Rae’s long time “bezzie” who might just be the literal worst. Izzy, who is the sweet one. Then the guys: Chop, Finn (Nico Mirallegro) and Archie – who Rae describes as “slice, epic slice and ultimate slice.” They use all these British phrases like “take the piss” and “proper serious” and “knobhead wanker.” I actually don’t feel quite so bad about my super nasal southern accent after having to use English subtitles just to understand what Chop is saying.
Rae is a FANGIRL
If this blog had been around in 1996, Rae would totally get it. The entire show is set from Rae’s perspective, from her diary. She’s in every scene, she voice-overs the whole show, and moments are punctuated by drawings and art (sometimes penis art) from her imagination. She fantasizes about every man in her life, and makes the most hilarious observations ever. “I’d shag him until there was nuffin’ left: just a pair of glasses and a damp patch.” “I think I might be about to commit a sex crime.” “Sure, he was stunnin’ with an arse I just wanted to bite into like a violent dog.” She says exactly what she (and we) are thinking, and it’s glorious.
The EPIC Swoon
I flat out refuse to spoil it for you, but just trust me when I tell you there is a love story to rival all love stories in this show. Do you remember that AMAZING feeling you got when your crush makes it fully obvious that he prefers being around you above anyone else in your group? There are whole episodes that feel like taking BIG GIANT GULPS of that feeling. (And her crush even ghost-writes on her leg, hand, etc with his finger when he wants to tell her something but doesn’t want to say it out loud. It’s like a sexier 90s version of texting under the table. GAH.
It’s not all music and boys though. Trouble is, Rae is writing this diary because she’s just been let out of mental ward. The entire season is wrapped up in how she copes being out, whether she is going to be honest about it with her friends, and her fear of relapse. There’s an amazing scene where Rae looks in the mirror for the first time that I was going to try to explain, but I’ll just show you instead.
Told you the music was poignant and perfect. And the message goes beyond that as well. Her friends in the hospital will break your heart. Her relationship with her mother is at times frustrating, hilarious and disastrous, but also real, smart and honest. Her therapist, Kester (Professor Quirrell!!) is so completely awesome; you root for him when he screws up and fist pump when he gets it right.
I know a bunch of you have already watched, loved and swooned over this with me. So get in the comments and tell everyone all the stuff I forgot to mention about why THEY MUST WATCH. And BONUS! There’s a second season in the works. Trust me, after that finale YOU WILL NEED IT.