Follow TV Tropes


Series / My Mad Fat Diary

Go To

"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 4 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).

The third and final series, consisting of just three episodes, aired on in late June and July 2015. It's 1998 and Rae is in her final year of school. She is faced with a dilemma: stay in Stamford with Finn and the gang or accept her university offer in Bristol? Also, Kester wants to bring their therapy session to an end.

This show provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Chloe for Archie (who is gay and obviously isn't interested in her).
  • Adaptation Distillation: The published diary is very different in content to the show.
  • All There in the Manual: In the end credits, Rae's mum is simply credited like that but the official website for the show reveals that her first name is Linda.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Tix and Chloe each get one of these.
    • In the episode 'Not I', we are shown extracts from Chloe's diary (Rae didn't know she even kept one) and the episode primarily focuses on Chloe's side of the story so far.
  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Kendo.
  • 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 her off and stop hanging around with her or the posse.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Finnís dad.
  • Amicable Exes: Rae and Finn do not get back together after he cheats with Katie but still remain good friends.
  • 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 Eels 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".
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Rae and her mum share such a moment in 'It's A Wonderful Rae: Part 2', although they admit they will never be a 'hugging' family.
    • 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: 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.
  • Beta Couple: Chop and Izzy.
  • Better as Friends: Rae and Archie quickly come to this conclusion after Archie discovers that he's actually gay.
    • Finn and Chloe seem to have a similar fate after Rae and Chloe reconcile.
  • Birds of a Feather: Finn and Rae, who share a love of music.
    • Chop and Izzy.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Katie Springer in series 3. She pretends to be Rae's friend while secretly seducing her boyfriend, Finn.
  • Break the Cutie: How Rae ended up in hospital in the first place.
    • Tix.
  • British Brevity: The show is currently only two seasons and thirteen episodes long.
    • The third series only had three episodes and served as more of an outro than as a full series.
  • Broken Bird: Probable reason as to why Tix is in the mental hospital. As Rae says in promotional material for the show:
    The world was horrible to Tix so she hid herself away from it in the local psych-ward.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Inverted with Rae and Finn. She is the troubled one, while he is the gentle one, once you get underneath his moody exterior.
  • Butt-Monkey: See also Yank the Dog's Chain
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Rae gives one of these speeches to her mum in 'Itís a Wonderful Rae: Part 1'.
  • Character Development: Rae in particular.
    • In series one, she is a deeply distressed girl with a lot of self-esteem issues and relies on Kester to help her make decisions.
    • In series two, having come clean about her mental health issues to everyone, she is slightly better but still has occasional hiccups.
    • In series three, Rae has developed to the point where Kester brings their sessions to an end, she tells her friends they don't need to worry about her anymore and she convinces her mum to go to Tunisia with Karim even though her mum is afraid to leave her on her own.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • He makes an appearance in Series 2 but doesn't seem very interested in a relationship with his daughter. She eventually decides not to bother anymore and stops contacting him.
  • 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.
  • Dresses the Same: 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.
  • 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.
  • Fantasy Sequence: The show uses a variety of examples including: Dream Sue, Fantasy Twist and Indulgent Fantasy Segue. Many sequences often have Daydream Surprise endings to them.
  • Fantasy Twist: Some of the Fantasy Sequence scenes appear to be this.
  • Female Gaze: Rae to Finn, especially his behind.
  • Food Fight: Finn starts one in the chip shop in 'Big Wide World'.
  • The Freelance Shame Squad: The girls who laugh at Finn holding Rae's hand in college in 'Alarm'.
    • All the students laughing at Rae and Finn coming out of the disabled toilets in 'Radar'.
  • Gang of Bullies: The boys who taunt Rae.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The pub gang.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: in "Inappropriate Adult", Chloe kisses Rae at the club, much to the cheers of onlookers.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted when Chloe opts for an abortion after falling pregnant with her PE teacher's baby.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Rae to Chloe.
    • And as it later turns out, Chloe to Rae.
  • 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 skirt and bikini top and covering herself with an inflatable crocodile lilo.
  • Hates Being Touched: Tix. The only person who she does allow to touch her in any way is Rae.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Archie to the rest of the gang except Rae after the events of 'Touched'.
  • Hollywood Mid-Life Crisis: Linda gets a new boyfriend, Karim.
    • 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.
  • Hot Guy, Ugly Wife: Karim and Linda; it's discussed in-universe.
    • Finn and Rae, at least she herself thinks so.
      • Rae's issues with this lead to her breaking up with Finn in 'Radar'.
  • Hot Teacher: Chloeís boyfriend. Justified, in that he is a PE Teacher.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Linda when she is having sex with Karim. Rae hears everything through the wall at 5 am in the morning.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Rae has a crush on Archie, who later turns out to be gay. They instead become incredibly close friends.
  • Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Very common in this show.
    • 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.
    • In 'Voodoo', Rae overdoses on her prescription pills and drowns herself in her bathtub, with Finn bursting in to save her. It is just her imagination and she doesn't take the overdose, deciding instead to try and help herself instead of relying on others to do so.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass: Some of the characters, although all of them are really Jerks With Hearts Of Gold.
  • Just Friends: Danny gives a lecture on how to avoid this situation when dealing with Finn to Rae.
  • Knight In Shining Armour: In a Fantasy Sequence, Rae imagines Finn as one. While reading a medieval fantasy book, Linda Carver imagines herself as one.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Chloe says this to Rae:
    Chloe: Look, you're not going to make friends if you're sitting on the sidelines all the time.
    Rae: Are people talking about that?
    Chloe: They might be. Look, you don't want people thinking you're weird, do you? You don't want people thinking you're not normal?
  • Love Confession: Chop to Izzy and Finn to Rae in 'It's a Wonderful Rae: Part 2'.
  • Love Hurts: In 'It's A Wonderful Rae: Part 1' and 'Part 2', this is just one part of Rae's troubles. Rae's crush on Finn causes Chloe to tell Rae to leave her and Finn alone.
  • Love Triangle: Chloe likes Finn who likes Rae who likes him too.
  • Lower-Class Lout: The three chavs who constantly harass Rae when she's out.
    • 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.
  • NaÔve Newcomer: Rae, initially, when she joins Stacey's Girl Posse in 'Girls'.
  • Never Sent Any Letters: Rae has received postcards bearing inspirational quotes from her dad since he left her, apparently sent from the Outer Hebrides. Rae learns that they were actually sent by her mother, Linda.
  • The '90s: Series 1 is set over the summer of 1996.
  • 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.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Lindaís boyfriend, Karim.
  • 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).
    • Archie in episode 2, a later episode implied it was not the first time.
  • Porn Stash: Linda buys a tv with a built-in VCR for her room. When Rae ejects the video, it's a porno film called Missionary: Impossible.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Both Rae and Chloe get ones against Stacey in 'Girls'. See the CMOA page for details.
  • 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'.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely:
    • Rae for Archieís date in 'Touched', after Chloe and Izzy's makeover.
    • How she appeared in the second half of 'Girls'.
    • Her appearance at her mum's reception in 'Itís a Wonderful Rae:Part 2'.
  • Shout-Out:
    • 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, à la the elevator in The Shining.
    Dr Kassar: Run, it's the mega-period!!
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Finn and Rae, during their first kiss in the boys' changing room.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Rae and Finn in the disabled toilets in 'Radar'.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Rae (tomboy) and Chloe (girly girl).
  • Unreliable Narrator: Either Chloe or Rae's perception of past events as told through her diary in 'Not I'. We as the audience aren't exactly sure who was being more truthful in their diary.
  • Weight Woe:
    • A lot of Rae's issues stem from her weight. Her own self-loathing about her size aside, she's also called names in the street and frequently finds herself in situations where her larger body is forcibly put on display.
    • Chloe is terrified about gaining weight, to the extent that she stops taking her birth control medication as weight gain is a possible side effect.
    • Tix is bulimic and is often found in the bathroom throwing up. She obsessively counts calories and forces herself to exercise even when she's exhausted. This leads to her eventual death of a heart attack, as her body was too weak to recover from it.
    • Rae's mum is a much lighter example; she's frequently on strange diets such as the alphabet diet when she can only eat foods beginning with a certain letter, or the 'Russian peasant' diet. But she usually gives in by the end of the episode.* You Are Grounded!: Rae, by her Mum, many times throughout.
    • It's why Rae has to sneak out for her date with Archie in 'Touched'.
    • Also the reason why Rae can't go to the rave in 'Itís a Wonderful Rae: Part 1'.
  • Your Makeup Is Running: In 'Touched'.