Rae is spending more and more time with Liam, and is thrilled by their growing friendship: “He just doesn’t care what people think!” she gushes excitedly, which as far as I’m concerned marks him down as a complete weapons-grade twat, but I’m getting old. She’s adamant that it isn’t romantic, even while saying things like “When I’m with him, I feel alive!”. Amy, Liam’s girlfriend, is particularly furious because Rae and Liam have been going somewhere together in secret; Rae won’t tell her where, so Amy – who has a reputation for violence – gives her until Friday, and in the absence of clarification will thereafter beat her up. As it happens, Rae and Liam have been going to group therapy. Liam wants to keep it secret – understandable – and seems willing to allow Rae to be assaulted by his girlfriend in order to keep it secret, which is perhaps more complex.
Archie is also up against a Friday deadline: after being outed to his girlfriend Lois by Rae in the last episode – something for which he initially doesn’t forgive Rae – he’s trying to keep his sexuality secret. Lois, however, makes it clear that if he doesn’t tell everyone, she will. Archie and Rae reconcile, and half-heartedly run away, before deciding that they need to return. There’s also stuff going on with Rae’s mother, but to be honest I haven’t really got on with her arc so far this season, so I’ll just skip over it.
It all leads to an equivocal ending of the sort that My Mad Fat Diary does so well. Archie comes out, and it goes better than he expected without being entirely uncomplicated: he had been worried about Finn’s reaction, but Finn reveals that he’s known for ages, and is supportive; Chop, on the face of it, less so, and Archie is thereafter excluded from the reindeer games by the other lads.
And Rae faces up to Amy, who instead of assaulting Rae runs away in floods of tears, although this might have been because Rae confesses that she and Liam kissed the day before – in passing also burning Chloe, who seconds before had been standing up for Rae as a person of honour, and had received a slap from Amy for doing so. There are things, it seems to me, that Rae can reasonably attribute to her illness; kissing Liam isn’t one of them, and it’s little wonder Chloe is so upset. Liam, meantime, who had promised Rae that he would speak to Amy, and that he would attend at the confrontation between the girl, seems to have done neither. Again, while Liam has become a little more sympathetic in the course of the episode, there are perhaps limits to the allowances which can be made for his problems.
Last week’s episode wasn’t my favourite. This one, on the other hand, was as strong as anything in the season so far, with touching scenes involving Sharon Rooney as Rae, Dan Cohen as Archie, and Nico Mirallegro as Finn; at the same time, the horrors and pitfalls of acceptance and relationships during the teenage years, filtered through Rae’s particular difficulties, continue to be convincingly and movingly articulated.