With the first two series of My Mad Fat Diary being set in 1996, this third and final run jumps two years to 1998. This series focuses on the final summer of the drama's central friendship group before they go their separate ways. For Rae (Sharon Rooney) this might mean a place at university however a disastrous interview at Bristol would suggest otherwise. After believing she's flunked her interview, Rae is all ready to stay in Stamford with the rest of the gang and in particular her boyfriend Finn (Nico Mirallegro). Indeed, now he's bought a new flat, Rae is considering moving in with him, however she's thrown for six when she discovers that Bristol University has offered her a place. Feeling that her place is by Finn's side, she lies to her friends about her university place however her secret doesn't stay buried for very long. Indeed, when her college tutor discovers that she's been accepted, soon everybody is praising her apart from her closest allies. Most hurt by her deceit is best friend Chloe (Jodie Comer) who feels that Rae's lies are connected to the fact that she doesn't believe that Chloe is good enough to get into business school. Additionally Finn decides to cool things off with her, which leads her to return to the dark place that made her end up in hospital at the beginning of series one. These problems build up to a shocking final sequence in which Rae and her friends end up in a car accident with Chloe being the one who has suffered the most. I feel it's a testament to both the writers and the actors that I felt for the characters as much as I did. In fact I reacted the same way as Chloe when Rae started to show signs that she was self-harming again. Meanwhile the final scene made my jaw drop to the floor in disbelief and with only two episodes to go I'm not sure how the gang will recover from this latest tragedy.
I'm still surprised that My Mad Fat Diary had as much of an effect of me as it did because, as a man in my early thirties, I don't think I'm the drama's target audience. However I believe there's something universal about My Mad Fat Diary which speaks to most of us who have ever been in the same situation as Rae and company. This is particularly true of the opening interview segment as I feel most of us have experienced a similar amount of pressure at some point in our lives. I think another reason why I've enjoyed My Mad Fat Diary so much is because of it being said during the 1990s. Although I was a little younger than the characters during the period the drama is set, it was still part of my adolescence and therefore I have a certain fondness for it. It's due to this fondness that I took issue with several cultural references during the opening episode namely Rae name dropping Destiny's Child and the fact that the Divine Comedy's National Express was played even though it wasn't released till the following year. Additionally I felt that the dark undertones of the episode made feel that the series had lost the balance of light and shade that made me love it so much in the first place. Thankfully there were a few bright spots namely the scenes with Rae's mum (Claire Rushbrook) and a subplot in which gay best friend Archie (Dan Cohen) tried to lose his virginity before starting university. However these are minor niggles in a show that has so many great things to say about growing up, starting adult life and those special friends who'd stay around forever. I've also enjoyed the relationship between Rae and her therapist Kester (Ian Hart) which looks to be coming to end partly as he seems to being ejected from his practise. Overall I'll be sad to see My Mad Fat Diary go but I'm glad that it's ending before it becomes too stale. I've just got my fingers crossed that everything turns out alright with Chloe and that Rae and the gang get the happy ending that they deserve.Matt, The Custard TV, 27th June 2015
My Mad Fat Diary's second series came to an end last week. The latter half of the series had been fairly depressing as Rae (Sharon Rooney) launched into a disastrous relationship with the disgusting Liam (Turlough Convery). Meanwhile relations with her mum (Claire Rushbrook) had hit an all-time low and her therapist Kester (Ian Hart) also stopped her from visiting him at home. Meanwhile her friends started to abandon her as Chloe (Jodie Comer) went missing and ex-boyfriend Finn (Nico Mirallegro) went to Leeds to live with his uncle. However it was a letter from Finn claiming that Rae was the glue of their friendship group that made her adamant to turn things around.
After a disastrous end to her pregnancy, Rae's mum ended up critically ill in hospital while Rae herself was delighted when she became a sister. Meanwhile Kester gave her the confidence to stand-up to the evil older guys who were essentially keeping Chloe hostage. Obviously Tom Bidwell built things up to a happy ending where everybody was friends again and Rae and Finn reconciled with an extremely saucy final sequence. The only issue was that Bidwell had built up so many stories over the past few episodes that there were plenty of sub-plots to resolve. As a result some of the conclusions felt incredibly rushed especially Rae's final scene with Liam which I felt should have been given more time based on the fact that he's been quite a pivotal character this series.
Ultimately though the episode ended in exactly the way it should have done and I think Bidwell did the right thing by giving the fans of the show what they wanted. I'm unsure at this point whether the show needs a third series as there's not much I think that needs to be explored aside from Rae's new role as a sister. Although I'm a fan of the show, and am delighted that it's been nominated for a couple of BAFTAs, I don't want it to carry on just for the sake of it.
Finally I must praise the performance from Sharon Rooney, who was cruelly overlooked in the aforementioned nominations, who really holds the programme together. If this really is the end for My Mad Fat Diary, and my gut says it is, than I hope that Rooney goes on to bigger and better things a she certainly deserves to.The Custard TV, 10th April 2014
The comedy drama My Mad Fat Diary brings us back to find Rae (Sharon Rooney) feeling better now that she has her new group of friends and is loved up with Finn (Nico Mirallegro). However, her therapist Kester (Ian Hart) believes that she is lying her to herself and that she isn't as well as she thinks she is. Indeed, as the episode draws on Rae starts to question her romance with Finn and in particular why someone like him would date someone like her. Events come to a head when the gang start college and Rae finally realises that her new relationships still can't prepare her for being around large groups of people. When the new series of My Mad Fat Diary began I did worry slightly that it dwelt too much on the comedic side of things and that it had lost the balance of light and shade that made it one of my favourite programmes of 2013. Even though some of the comic exchanges made me laugh out loud, particularly the line about Finn developing gills, the dark side seemed to have slipped away.
The turning point for me was the word association game that Kester and Rae played followed by Rae's beliefs about the way she and Finn were perceived as a couple. Writer Tom Bidwell really has a knack for presenting Rae's illness as a condition that she has to live with rather than something that hampers her on a scene by scene basis. Once again, the mid-1990s setting allows Bidwell to play around with previous references, namely one character getting excited after purchasing a TV with a built-in VCR. But at the heart of My Mad Fat Diary is the superb central performance from Sharon Rooney who deserves to at least be nominated for a TV Bafta. She proves herself to be both adept at delivering comic dialogue as she is in connecting with the audience on a more personal level. Even though I don't think I'm exactly the target market for My Mad Fat Diary I don't think it should just appeal to people in a similar situation to Rae's. Instead, I think anybody who has ever felt like an outcast will be able to identify with the programme in some way and ultimately the programme deals with these feeling in a funny, stylish and relatable way.The Custard TV, 26th February 2014
The first series of the E4 comedy-drama, My Mad Fat Diary was an unexpected pleasure. Anchored by a sledgehammer emotional performance from Sharon Rooney and with the delightful Claire Rushbrook and Ian Hart providing support, it was just a joy to watch. Painful, candid and unashamedly honest in its portrayal of adolescence, My Mad Fat Diary was one of my highlights of 2013. Going simply by this series two opener, I can predict a positive future for the wonderful show.Patrick Sproull, The Custard TV, 15th February 2014
Alternative histories can be dead-end vanity projects, but this reimagining of John Lennon in 1991, trudging through an unfulfilled life 30 years after leaving The Beatles, was stunningly conceived and realised, from Ian Hart's Lennon to Martin Carr's pastiche soundtrack.Gabriel Tate, Time Out, 19th December 2013
Music journalist David Quantick's Snodgrass imagines John Lennon in 1991, 30 years after walking out on the Beatles due to a row over a song in an alternative timeline. Ambling through a grey Liverpool, he's a brilliant man unable to fit into nine-to-five society. Talking directly to camera, Ian Hart catches the spark of genius that, without superstar status, looks like muttering madness. Full of heart and sympathy, it's a tender reminder of all those might-have-beens that only blossomed into down-and-outs.Matt Trueman, The Guardian, 23rd May 2013
Snodgrass, David Quantick's drama for Playhouse Presents, imagined a world in which John Lennon had walked out of The Beatles before they made it big. The only zebra crossing he strides over in this universe is the one on the way to the job centre, his only fame that of a might-have-been. Ian Hart was excellent as Lennon and the script beautifully captured Lennon's aggressive wit. But the heart of the thing was that it wasn't really about Lennon at all. It was about that bit of us that aches to be a Lennon when we're 20 and still does 30 years on.Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 26th April 2013