"My name is Rae. Itís 1996, Iím sixteen, sixteen stone, and desperate for a shag. Oh yeah, and Iíve been in a mental hospital for a while."
— Rachel 'Rae' Earl
A Channel Four comedy-drama show about Rachel 'Rae' Earl, a 16-year-old girl returning to the outside world after spending time in a mental hospital. Based on a published diary (called 'My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary) by the author of the same name. Originally marketed as a romantic comedy about Rae's quest to 'get a shag' despite her weight, although actually focuses far more on her struggle with mental illness.Rae's mental health and body image issues are a big part of her character, and hit home for a lot of viewers who are going through, or who have gone through similar issues in their own lives. Rae struggles to keep her issues hidden from her new friends, but at the same time longs to tell them the truth the closer she becomes to them.As well as trying to be a normal teenager, Rae has to deal with her somewhat flighty mother, and her illegal immigrant lover, sessions with her brutally honest therapist Kester, and her friendship with Tix and Danny, who were residents at the psychiatric hospital.The three chavs who follow Rae around throwing insults at her aren't making things any easier.It launched on E4 on 14 January 2013, with Series 1 running for six episodes.Series 2, consisting of eight episodes aired in 2014. It primarily focused on Rae's relationship with the gang and the new challenges as they began College (Last two years of Secondary School/High School to the rest of us).There has been no announcement yet on whether there will be a Series 3 or not.
This show provides examples of:
Abhorrent Admirer: Chloe for Archie (who is gay and obviously isn't interested in her).
Alpha Bitch: Stacey, the head of a popular Girl Posse in Rae's college, whom Rae briefly pals around with in 'Girls'. Not only is she fake and snobbish, she makes snide comments about all her posse when they're not around and treats Chloe like her personal servant. Thankfully, Rae and Chloe eventually tell heroff and stop hanging around with her or the posse.
Anachronism Stew: A minor example but in 'Big Wide World' (set on 10 July 1996, as indicated by the diary at the start), Rae is listening to the song 'Beautiful Freak' by Eel whilst throwing scrunched-up papers in the bin ("if this goes in the bin, Archie will definitely sleep with me"), a song which wasn't released on an album until a month later (13 August 1996) or on a single in 1997.
Similarly, when Rae enters Chloe's room in 'Not I', you can spot Britney Spears' "Fantasy" perfume on Chloe's desk. "Fantasy" didn't lauch until 2008.
Attempted Rape: Chloe's acquaintance Saul to Rae in "Inappropriate Adult".
For all the fights and resentment Rae and Chloe sometimes have for each other, it is obvious that they care deeply about one another, especially when Rae reads Chloe's diary and reads about how Chloe cried with worry about her.
Berserk Button: Mentions of certain bands/musical acts make Rae go on a rant about them.
Rae also detests the Backstreet Boys. When Chloe mentions that Stacey likes them, Rae says
Rae: Backstreet Boys make me wanna scorch my inner thighs with the hottest substance known to man — Strawberry Jam Poptarts. They make me wanna spend months learning how to drive, then years of working hard, saving all my money so I can buy a Land Rover and run them all down. They are everything that is wrong with the world. They are destroying music.
As in season, when Chloe's missing, insulting her and calling her a slag in front of Rae is probably not the best thing to do.
Clingy Jealous Girl: Amy when she is going out with Liam. She even threatens to kill Rae if she sees them together again (even though Rae and Liam are only friends).
Coming of Age Story: Rae experiences many firsts over the course of the show, including her first kiss.
The Cutie: Izzy, who Rae describes as perpetually happy and sweet.
Deceptive Legacy: Rae has been led to believe all her life that her Disappeared Dad is living in the Outer Hebrides and is sending her regular postcards with news and inspirational quotes. It's eventually revealed that Linda is the one who has been writing them the whole time and has been lying to her. In reality she has no idea where her Dad really is nor has he ever tried to contact them. Rae takes it quite well, considering.
Until 'It's A Wonderful Rae: Part 2', when she starts crying about it, despite saying just minutes before she isn't bothered by it.
Diary: A lot of the voiceovers begin with the words 'Dear Diary', making this a variation of Voiceover Letter.
Subverted for most of 'Alarm' when Rae decides to temporarily stop writing in her diary and instead write a letter/letters to Tixie. Double subverted in that after we find out Tix actually died and Rae places the letters in an envelope on her grave, she begins writing in her (new) diary again.
Rae is surprised to find that Chloe also keeps one in 'Not I'.
Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Izzy innocently blurts out that they can use Linda and Karim's wedding as wind-down session after the rave. Cue all of Rae's friends glaring at her.
Disappeared Dad: Raeís dad left her and her mum sometime during her childhood and has not been heard from since. Rae believes he is living in Scotland before she discovers it is actually her mum sending the postcards to her.
Dream Sue: In one sequence in 'Touched', Rae unzips her skin to reveal a slim, daintily sized girl who takes what was previously her fat self and stuffs it into the downstairs bin.
Driven to Suicide: It's implied this is why Rae ended up in the psychiatric hospital in the first place.
Rae also contemplates jumping off a bridge during the Series 1 finale, but is stopped when she is hit by a car while crossing the road.
Evil Matriarch: Rae often sees her mum as a type 1 — meddling and interfering with her plans to be cool and fit in with her friends.
Hand or Object Underwear: When Chloe sets off the smoke alarm by smoking in the changing room while Rae is trying on clothes, Rae has to go out onto the busy street wearing only a bra and covering herself with an inflatable crocodile lilo.
The only person who she does allow to touch her in any way is Rae.
In 'Alarm', she starts crying over mundane shows (such as Wheel of Fortune) and wearing her daughter's clothes.
Subverted, however, as it turns out she isn't going through the menopause like she thought; she's actually five months pregnant.
Hope Spot: The last episode of Series 1 ('It's A Wonderful Rae: Part 2') implies that Tix is going to get better as it was a "really good sign" (Kester says) that she made it through the night. However, she subsequently dies sometime between the end of Series 1 and the beginning of Series 2.
In 'Itís a Wonderful Rae: Part 2', Rae suddenly drags Chloe from the cafe they're sitting in out onto the street, dropping her in the road. Rae then gets into a van and proceeds to run her over by reversing over before it's revealed that the whole sequence was all in Rae's head.
In 'Big Wide World', when Rae is leaving the hospital and imagines Dr Kassar being disappointed that she is leaving as he never "got a chance to do a sex" on her.
In 'Alarm', she imagines touching Finn's hand in his car and him ripping off his top and shouting at her to "get into the back seat now".
In 'Radar', she imagines herself dousing the 'Hi Boys' lingerie poster with petrol and setting it on fire.
In 'Girls', she images her own head exploding with blood splattering on Chloe when Chloe is explaining a long complex list of things not to mention or talk about to Stacey's Gang.
It's a Wonderful Plot: Rae is given this treatment in 'It's a Wonderful Rae: Part 2', with Tix as her guide through an alternative future. It turns out that mere minutes have passed and Rae is not in hospital, but in the middle of the road after colliding with a car.
Kendo, the drug dealer who Izzy might have ended up with if Rae had died.
Mood Whiplash: 'Big Wide World' sees Rae finally plucking up the courage to join her new friends in the pool, only to get wedged at the end of the slide, her self harm scars clearly visible. Even the music grinds to a halt. The mood quickly changes again when she makes light of the situation, and gets Chop to help her out.
Nosy Neighbor: All of Stamford when Rae rents out sex books and condoms and claims they are for her mum. Dangerous because the man Linda has is an illegal immigrant and they don't want anyone to find this out.
Nothing But Hits: The soundtrack includes quite a few tracks which are not the typical Greatest Hits associated with The Nineties, along with occasional tracks from earlier periods depending on the setting.
Not What It Looks Like: In 'Radar', Rae is afraid to get help when she and Finn get stuck in the disabled toilets as she is afraid people will think they've been fucking.
Oh, Crap: Rae's reaction to getting stuck on the slide in 'Big Wide World', with everyone staring at her scars on her legs. Averted, as she makes light of it and simply asks Chop to help her down.
Once More with Clarity: In the episode 'Not I', Rae reads Chloe's diary when she is missing. We get to see all the major events of Series 1 and 2 from Chloe's point of view. We get to see how Chloe perceived everything as it was happening. It turns out Chloe is not at all as mean as Rae had thought she was at previous points.
One Steve Limit: Averted. There's Linda Bouchtat, Rae's mum, and Linda Carver, a loner bookworm girl at college.
The Peeping Tom: Mrs Dewhurst (the elderly neighbour) thinks Rae is one, as she caught her looking at her naked breasts when Rae opened her curtains. Mrs Dewhurst does warm to Rae as Series 1 goes on though, (possibly because it's implied she fancies her).
Right Behind Me: In 'Girls', in an attempt to fit in the Stacey's gang, Rae describes a lonely nerdy girl called Linda Carver as the biggest loser in school and berates her thick glasses and her reading of books. Linda is, of course, right behind Rae the entire time she says this.
Right Through the Wall: Not neighbours, but Linda and Karim having sex in the room next to her bedroom and keeping Rae awake at 5 am.
Secret Diary: Part of the plot of 'Itís a Wonderful Rae: Part 2', causing a rift between Chloe and Rae.
Sex as Rite-of-Passage: In 'Alarm', Rae and Izzy make a pact ('Pactus Shagus') to lose their virginity before college starts. Izzy succeeds almost immediately; Rae doesn't.
Rae loses her virginity, not to Finn but to Liam.
She does finally sleep with Finn at the end of Series 2 in 'Glue'.
A scene from Jurassic Park recreated, with Rae in the role of the T-Rex and Archie trapped inside the car:
Archie: Clever girl!
In 'Ladies and Gentlemen', in which Rae gets her period, as she is being examined by Dr Kassar and is afraid her period is going to overflow, we see him running frantically from the room as the blood pours out behind him, ŗ la the elevator in The Shining.
Slumber Party: In 'Don't Ever Tell Anybody Anything', while Rae's mother is out of the country. However Chop, who always had the intention of it being a 'sexy' sleepover party, ends up inviting a lot more people than expected.
Suspiciously Similar Outfit: Playing with the trope - in trying to look more girly in comparison with Chloe, Rae goes shopping for more feminine wear. She tries on a red dress with side panel cutouts. It doesn't go well - which means of course the next time we see Chloe, she's wearing the exact same dress.
Technology Marches On: In-universe. In 'Radar', Rae and Finn get trapped in the disabled toilet in college and are trying to get out without attracting any attention. Rae asks Finn if by chance he has one of those "mobile telephones", and he replies to her that he isn't a millionaire, so of course not. Justified and Truth in Television, since it is 1996.
There Are No Therapists: Averted. Kester is an extremely good therapist to Rae, and appears to be better than her previous one.
Chloe is also offered therapy following her abortion.