Painfully poignant and beautifully honest about the way life inevitably goes for every young adult, the end of Rae Earl's story is truly bittersweet.
*Warning: This review contains spoilers!*
So this is it. The mad, fat diary of Rae Earl has reached it’s final chapter. And as is to be expected in a finale such as this – and from a series that has centred singularly on the thoughts and feelings of such a troubled, yet relateable character – this episode packs something of a punch.
The last episode saw Rae (Sharon Rooney) at the brink of despair, with her family in a state of crisis, her relationship with Finn (Nico Mirallegro) tarnished by his indiscretion with Katie Springer (Faye Marsay) and her connections with therapist Kester (Ian Hart), seemingly lost. Rae is more dependent on her therapy than ever; scared of her manifesting feelings and confused by the apparent deceit of Kester, she is in a state of shock. It turns out that Kester was suspended after being put under review, but continued to meet with Rae at the hospital in order to help her recovery – claiming that she is “the patient [he]cares about most.”
Rae’s homelife is also pretty turbulent. Following his dismissal from work, Rae’s stepfather Karim has found himself a new job. But to the despair of Rae’s mum, Linda (Claire Rushbrook), his new employment means that he will have to move to Tunisia. In one of several touching heart-to-heart conversations between the pair, Linda expresses her desperation to go with Karim, but claims somewhat matter-of-factly to her daughter that she ‘can’t leave, until [Rae] leaves.’
And then there’s the matter of Finn. Hurt by his betrayal and confused at the prospect of her future, Rae tries to avoid the subject altogether. She is soon confronted with an accusation however, when Katie comes to apologise. Though seemingly guilt-ridden for what she did with Finn, Katie strikes an overwhelmingly insensitive blow towards Rae, claiming that because of the fluctuating state of her mind, Rae is bringing Finn – and all her other friends – down. Obviously, this hits Rae hard, as she swallows Katie’s harshened words – concluding that she must be some kind of ‘voodoo doll,’ inflicting pain on the ones she loves. During her sorrowful contemplation, we enter the darkest recesses of Rae’s mind and bare witness to a dreamlike sequence, in which Rae appears to end it all. Thankfully, it is just one of several imagined thoughts Rae that candidly discloses with us throughout the episode, but to say it is affecting would be an understatement.
This thought soon gives Rae a life-changing epiphany: “Maybe my illness isn’t the problem. Maybe it’s just something I need to learn to live with. […] I need to stop waiting for someone to come and save me.” For anyone who has experienced the ongoing struggle of depression, these words may seem strikingly familiar. Though it takes time to admit it – as Rae has found throughout the series – there is an essential truth in this statement, and Rae realises that it’s time to take her illness into her own hands. This particular moment is perhaps one of the aspects that will be most missed from the show – its unrelenting and unabashed honesty.
Scared, but determined to make things right – for both herself and her family/friends – Rae soldiers on. When the leaver’s ball arrives, Chloe and Rae have another candidly emotional conversation that certainly hits close to home for viewers of university age. Though Chloe is scared about the future – in a way not wholly different to Rae’s own fears – Rae comforts her, by stating that even if the gang doesn’t stick together, that they will. Rae also finally comes face to face with Finn. Though he apologises and seems desperate to reconnect, Rae makes a firm decision that – for fans of the show – is tough to swallow, as she tells him their relationship cannot go on. What was once the relationship we all rooted for, has now dissolved.
The ending is as bittersweet and nostalgic as you like, as the gang dance together to ‘Praise You’ by Fatboy Slim. We are also given a short flash-forward to results day where, to Kester’s heart-melting delight, Rae achieves the grades she needed to get into Bristol. As she boards the train and looks to the future, there is one last beautiful moment wherein Rae contemplates the memories of her time with the gang, in an emotional final diary entry.
Painfully poignant, yet beautifully enveloped, the conclusion of My Mad Fat Diary is nothing short of emotional. But from a show that has so gracefully depicted the entire spectrum of adolescent emotion, that might just be it’s final point.
My Mad Fat Diary: Season 3 will be available to buy on DVD from 27th July. All three series are also available for catch up on 4OD.