Similarly to many others, I recently visited home for Thanksgiving break. Personally, I didn't eat any turkey, but I did find a new series to binge that would completely destroy and save my life all at once. "My Mad Fat Diary" is the series I so desperately needed when I was younger, but I'm glad I found it as a college student instead.
Growing up, I was far from a beauty queen. I always thought I was overweight and had some major self-confidence issues. I also struggle with my own variety of mental health problems.
"My Mad Fat Diary" is a short British television series set in 1996 Lincolnshire. There are only three seasons and 16 episodes. The show depicts an overweight teenager named Rae Earl leaving a mental hospital and going on to tackle friendships, boyfriends, sex, self-esteem, and more. In the first season, Rae is on her way home to face her life again when she runs into her best mate, who she hasn't seen since she went away and has no idea she's been ill.
Her best mate, Chloe, eventually invites Rae out to a pub to meet a gang of new friends. It is there she meets her soon-to-be love interest, Finn Nelson, who she despises at first. Throughout the first season, Rae struggles to fit in with a new group of friends who don't know she's been mentally ill. She also struggles to identify and process her feelings for Finn, and she does it all while struggling to find healthy ways to cope.
In season two, we finally see Rae and Finn living out all our relationship goals to the fullest, but sadly, it's short-lived. Rae struggles a lot with her confidence. She worries what people may think of her next to the guy so clearly out of her league. Things escalate when she and Finn decide to have sex, but she is unable to get past her insecurities long enough to undress before him. This is what ends the relationship at the very beginning of the season.
Rae spends the rest of it on what I like to think of as her journey of self-discovery. She begins to accept therapy, loses her virginity, adjusts to her new family, and even finds her way back to Finn.
The third and final season of "My Mad Fat Diary" is only three episodes. Rae has to accept the end of her therapy, choose between a life with Finn and a life at University, and mend her friendship with her best mate. It's a bittersweet ending to a story that brought me on an emotional roller coaster unlike any other.
Sure, this may all seem pretty melodramatic, and in some ways it is, but Rae Earl is the type of character almost anyone can relate to. Rae associates many of her faults with being overweight. She struggles to believe she is deserving of many things but mostly struggles to believe she deserves love.
The show isn't perfect. There were no trigger warnings where they were needed, and there weren't always happy endings. What the show does do is bring you along a journey to learn how to save and love yourself, and for that, I'll never forget it.