My Mad Fat Diary s3 ep 2

Chloe’s survived last week’s car crash, but is in hospital, which means she’ll miss her exams. Rae generally needs little encouragement to start self-hating, and when Chloe’s parents ban her from visiting their daughter, this reinforces her view that she was to blame for the accident, and that everything she touches “turns to shit”. And, although not exactly to blame for the accident, she does on one view bear a little of the responsibility: it was Rae who persuaded Chloe to stop studying and drive the gang to a party which wasn’t happening, and Chloe’s concentration was diverted when she noticed the signs that Rae had been self-harming again. So her feelings of responsibility aren’t entirely groundless.

Rae, in consequence, tries to think of ways of making amends to Chloe; including, of course, this being the late 80s, a specially selected mixtape. (The music, normally good on My Mad Fat Diary, is exemplary this week: Massive Attack, DJ Shadow, Blur’s peerless ‘Beetlebum’.) Her decision to put Chloe’s name on her exam paper, though, and sit the exam for her, really can’t be regarded as anything but flat-out stupid. “How was it ever going to work?” demands one of the college lecturers. How indeed. (Although she escapes the consequences when the college lets her resit the exam.) And she compounds that by forgetting to get a cake for her mother’s birthday party, and inviting her unreliable father to it.

Like last week, there isn’t much going on which might raise a smile, but it’s an episode which squarely confronts an issue which is sometimes skirted around on My Mad Fat Diary: for the people around Rae, just how much they need to indulge her, how much work it is, how much it costs everyone. These questions are almost rendered moot by the patient and loving tolerance, and capacity for forgiveness, of her friends. Almost but not quite, because the suffering endured by those around her keeps rearing its head, and it’s easy to see why Chloe’s parents might have a point.

One of the many minor miracles performed by My Mad Fat Diary, though, is the way in which Sharon Rooney’s performance makes Rae more sympathetic than she might otherwise might be, which means that the last few minutes hit home: Rae turns up at Finn’s flat to find Katie Springer – who has been circling Finn throughout the episode – in Finn’s bedroom. Then, looking for Kester at the hospital, she discovers that he’s not actually worked there for months. This leads to another episode of self-harm – painful to watch, it should be said – and, perhaps, re-admittance to the hospital. So we might well be back where we started with Rae. Like last week, it’s another excellent but gruelling episode.

Anyway, we’re almost done with this show: it’s the last ever episode tomorrow. I might be a few days late in reviewing.

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