Sophy says: I think when this scene happened Rin and I were just screaming at each other how brilliant Claire Rushbrook is. There can be no question that hitting the caps lock button was warranted. Every little thing she did was magic, from the crazy eyes, to the high-pitched laugh, to the wheezing noises she was making, to the way she covered her mouth, to the somehow slightly too sexual way she rubbed Karim’s arms as she said she was in her prime, to the way she asked for permission to cry like she really needed it, to the hysterical clinking of mugs. And Karim’s cheerful barely-there-ness and Rae’s nonplussed attempt at being supportive were the perfect foils for it all. Glorious. Just absolutely glorious.
And it just made me laugh so much that when she thinks it’s menopause she feels like utter crap and when she knows it’s pregnancy she’s all, you know, radiant. Oh Mrs Rae. Never change. Retain all insecurity, sweetness, good parenting and bad parenting, sometimes grossness and general unhingedness. DON’T THROW ANY OF IT AWAY EVER.
And we had to include Rae magicking herself into the war movie, saying Chin Chin in her little hat with her impressive moustache.
IT SEEMS ALL OUR FAVES DON A MOUSTACHE ONCE IN A WHILE.
Rin says: NOTHING QUITE SAYS ‘BEST EVER’ LIKE A FAKE MOUSTACHE.
And yes. Claire Rushbrook is the biggest delight on this show. It was already too much when she would take every opportunity to tell Rae that she was going through the change, and would get hyper emotional about it all. But now that it happens to be that she’s pregnant… lololol. It really was the perfect setup for omg menopause to OMG PREGNANCY!
I’m so happy we can continue to see our beloved cast of The Fades pop up everywhere else and keep on nailing their roles and being one of the best characters on their respective shows. I LIKE IT WHEN THE PEOPLE WE LOVE GO ON TO CONQUER OTHER PROJECTS. As if to say, fuck you — you cancelled our show but I will go on to be AMAZING and prove to you that you made a big mistake and you COULD HAVE HAD ALL OF US AND NOW YOU HAVE NONE. SOME HAVE WEIRD SEX FANTASIES, I HAVE WEIRD RIGHTEOUS-ACTORS-FUCK-YOU-NETWORKS! FANTASIES.
Sophy says: And hitting the caps lock button was warranted there too.
Rae and the radar
Sophy says: The colours! The framing! The radar lines! Everything is working for these shots.
Rin says: I am a fan of shows that can integrate graphics in a way that enhances the overall aesthetics, rather than be unnecessary and distracting. AND RAE LOOKING FORLORNLY OUT THE WINDOW. A staple.
Sophy says: FORLORN, THE VERY WORD IS LIKE A BELL
Rin says: YOU SHUT YOUR STUPID MOUTH.
“I don’t mind that you’ve got stuff. Everyone’s got stuff, really, but…”
Sophy says: Okay, so obviously there was a lot to choose from in this episode in terms of Rae and Finn, and it does seem kind of counter-intuitive not to choose the ‘You’re a dickhead!’ makeout scene in the disabled toilets, because let’s face it, it was the best. Finn trying to reclaim the right to feel however he wants about whoever he wants from Rae? Totally epic, even if she beat him in the end.
However, this has to be my favourite little bit of shipper glee from the episode, illustrating as it does how easy it would be for this incredibly difficult relationship to work. Because when Rae stops avoiding Finn and making up stories about going to France or having glandular fever and actually goes and finds him, sits down with him and says words that make sense… Finn lets her have her space. He doesn’t expect her to tell him everything that’s going on or to be at his beck and call 24/7. He just doesn’t want her to abandon him like his mum abandoned him, like Rae’s dad abandoned her, it hurts, it hurts, make it stop.
Ahem. I love that Finn makes things simple for Rae because although everything in Rae’s mind that’s about Finn and herself is so painfully complicated, this is what he does for her. He makes it easy – or he tries. He’ll tell her he doesn’t mind that she’s got stuff but… and instead of finishing the sentence he’ll kiss her till all their troubles are forgotten.
Trouble is you can’t stay fused at the lips as a permanent lifestyle proposition. There needs to be room for like, food and water. And you should probably talk to people sometimes.
But for now they kiss and make everything better, and all I can hear is Finn trying so hard to put into words something important. Something he really means. He wants to be close to Rae. He was to be close to her and keep her close. That’s what he means when he says that he doesn’t mind that she’s got stuff. It’s what he means when he says everyone’s got stuff, really. It’s an invitation to intimacy – the gentlest, loveliest, thriftiest and most romantic of invitations.
Rae spends so much of her life worrying about being different from everybody else – or everybody who’s normal and happy and fit, right? Fit in the sense of beautiful – fit in the sense of fitting in – fit in the sense of worthy of. Finn tries, here, to say she’s not so different – to bring her down to earth – to keep her on the ground with him. That’s the ‘but’.
Everyone’s got stuff, Rae. Finn’s just glad he’s got you.
Rin says: BUT THEIR FACES IN THE FIRST TWO CAPS SOPHY? Why do you make me look at their faces? They’re too cute. You should at least have had the decency to blur them. Or cover them with Sophias.
I like that we have these moments between the two of them that let us see how easy it could be. How Finn and Rae in its most basic form works and how this is what we want for Rae. To be able to let go of everything that troubles her, the insecurities she has about herself, and the ones she has about herself with Finn. If there was ever a right usage for the word endgame, it’d be these two. When I watch this show I’m constantly in Rae’s corner, hoping that she finds the ability to be truly happy. And I’m not saying that a relationship is the be all and end all of finding happiness, but I feel like Rae being able to actually accept love from someone else would be a sign that she has finally learnt to love herself. So in a way Rae/Happiness endgame would look something like Rae/Finn.
FINN IS RAE’S HAPPINESS OKAY? OKAY.
Head In Hands
“Please don’t be mad at me.”
“I’m not mad.”
Rin says: I adore Rae’s protectiveness of Chloe, even though most of the time she doesn’t really deserve it. It’s a very unbalanced friendship in that way, but that’s kind of why I like it. Pretty much every relationship on this show is complicated and not as simple as black and white. These two love each other because they’ve gone through too much together to not care. And when it counts, Chloe is a fucking badass that comes through for Rae. When you’ve seen someone at their most vulnerable and still capable of being the best version of themselves — well that’s something you can admire in another. So even when Chloe has deceived Rae all this time, she’ll reply with an amazingly loaded reply of “I’m not mad.” CAUSE OF THE TITLE OF THE SHOW YOU GUYS OH MY GOD.
Also they’re so Faberry. Without the gay.
Sophy says: WHAT IS FABERRY WITHOUT THE GAY HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK I DON’T UNDERSTAND.
But yes, Rae and Chloe’s relationship does have some similarities to Faberry, though Rae isn’t always the brave little toaster Rachel Berry was and I’m not sure Quinn’s dew-eyed depths are beneath Chloe’s surface. And I think one of the ways they’re different from Faberry is that in some ways they’re like sisters. They’ve grown up together, after all, and yes, it is an unbalanced friendship and I have a feeling it always has been and that that has, in its own way, contributed to Rae’s sense of alienation and unworthiness.
But this is what My Mad Fat Diary does so well – better than just about any show, actually. It lives in the grey areas. Chloe has damaged Rae. Chloe has been Rae’s home. Chloe can be mean and selfish and vapid but she loves and can be loved at the same time. Chloe knows Rae better than anyone and she doesn’t understand her at all. And you know what? It’s not always that Chloe hurts Rae. It’s that Rae hurts herself with Chloe.
It was fine when she was being her knight in shining armour. Rae isn’t making any moral judgements here. The issue for her isn’t that Chloe distributed the photos herself in a bid for popularity. It’s that it worked. This is why Rae crumbles as Chloe comes to kiss and hold her tight and plead with her not to be “mad”.
Because Rae has been trying all this time to stay under the radar – to make sure people don’t look at her or know her or notice her at all. And now she finds that those rules Archie gave her aren’t for everyone at all – only the fat girls and the gay guys, right? Because everyone is talking about Finn and it’s all good things. Because as long as people are looking at Chloe, that’s when everything will be okay.
It’s a loss of kinship she feels in this moment. I think she and Chloe so rarely return to that childhood intimacy, when the two of them didn’t have to worry about a whole host of Other People in defining and navigating their friendship. This was one of those times. Rae believed for one knight-in-shining moment that Chloe was like her – that no matter how different they looked they were the same.
And so I think she feels terribly lonely and I think Chloe knows that she does and I think deep down Chloe is terribly lonely too and it’s a loneliness Rae doesn’t understand in her. And it all just kind of breaks my heart while my head is in my hands.
Thank you for the music
PJ Harvey – Down By The Water
Rin says: FUCKING STACEY GET OUT.
But this whole sequence was so sad. Rae forcing Finn to drink so they wouldn’t have to go any further, even though that’s what she wants but she just can’t. It’s such a hugely glaring moment of why Finn and Rae won’t work at this point in time. Rae isn’t ready for everything that a relationship brings, and I love that this show doesn’t shy away from having one of those factors be Rae’s inability to be intimate with Finn. In one moment she can be calling Finn a SEX WIZARD because it’s different when they’re at her house during the day fooling around while her mum’s still home, compared to alone at night at Finn’s place. The picture of Stacey only makes things worse because Rae gets the opportunity to directly compare herself to who she already thinks Finn should be with instead of her. Not literally Stacey, but a girl who would be more on ~Finn’s level. Whatever that means. And that’s one of Rae’s great ironies — she couldn’t care less what people think, and in the same breath everything that haunts her comes from her perception on what the world would think.
CUDDLING SLEEPING FINN :((:((
Also I don’t care how drunk and passed out you are. GET YOUR SHOES OFF THE BED.
Sophy says: So PJ Harvey set an appropriately ominous and melancholy tone for this scene and the repeated refrain toward the end of Little fish, big fish swimming in the water really let you into the kind of almost hypnotic panic and premonitory sense of loss that was going on for Rae.
She’d seen the photo of Stacey, blue-eyed and blonde and perfect in Finn’s arms. And whilst a person who hated themselves less than Rae might have thought how cool it was that Finn genuinely picked people based on who they were not based on certain physical attributes, well, Rae… Rae just takes Finn’s choices away from him. She invalidates them. And in doing so she invalidates Finn.
It’s interesting, because their relationship is not at all made up of one super sexy jock and one grateful googly-eyed fat girl. In fact, if anything, it’s Finn who’s so terribly whipped. I mean, look at what happens in this scene. They get all settled in and cosy and check out his family photos. Rae sees the photo of him and Stacey and like the little lamb that he is Finn offers to get rid of it. Rae pretends not to care because it’s easier that way to not show that she really really really cares. And then she proceeds to ply him with alcohol.
I was struck during this scene by the fact that within the limits of the law and human decency (probably) Finn would do pretty much anything for Rae – to get her to like him, to get her to stay. He’ll even let her turn what should be his chance to get into her pants – his second chance actually – into a monster headache the next day. Because really, look at what happens here. He drinks glass after glass of vodka he doesn’t want to drink – and why? Because Rae wants him to. He’d probably drink cat piss if she insisted it was a good idea.
But yeah, the song worked well in that it provided a really unnerving edge to that impossibly sweet moment when Rae went and got into bed and spooned poor Finn who was passed out due to her worries and her wiles.
There were all sorts of turning points after this, but I think part of Rae already knew that night as she lay beside Finn that she wasn’t going to be able to do this, you guys.
Biggest kick to the emotional shins
“In a way, I am facing my fears. I am doing the thing I’m most afraid of.”
Rin says: This was brutal. And done SO well. Not letting us hear the conversation (because they wanted to break our hearts even more later), but having it occur when Rae is telling us of all the reasons she has to break up with Finn. It’s genius.
And then the AMAZING fantasy scene of Rae burning the HI BOYS billboard that has been taunting her for the past two episodes. That because ‘in a way’ she faced the thing she was most afraid of, she could have this moment of triumph over this figure that has subconsciously been telling Rae that she wasn’t good enough. And I like that this show felt the need to comment on how the media has warped our perceptions of what beauty looks like in a way that is extremely damaging to girls. And they managed to do it in a way that was subtle, okay maybe metaphorically lighting a billboard on fire isn’t subtle, but we only ever see Rae glimpse at the image from time to time. They didn’t make a big thing out of it you know? It was done in a way that replicates our real experience of encountering these images in everyday life. And that is a lot smarter and has more impact for me, than if Rae sat down with Kester and voiced those opinions.
Sophy says: I applaud the show for this. I applaud them till my hands are all numb and tingly. I ship it as much as anyone, but Rae/Finn is not the point of this show. Rae/Rae is the point of this show. And the reality is that sometimes dreams are too hard to live out. It was fine when Rae knew she was crazy for Finn. It was the thrill of her life when it turned out he was into her too. The beginning was good – the kisses, the held hands, the being together in privacy of their little circle of friends.
But being Finn’s girlfriend – it’s too much. It’s too exhausting.
I used to joke that I could never go out with someone substantially prettier than me. And you know what? I would. If that person was amazing. But it would be really hard, as someone who has always had issues with the way they look, to be with someone who really, really didn’t. It would be hard to be with someone for whom physical presence comes easy – somebody who’s going to get looked at all the time next to you. I totally get what Rae is going through. It sucks and it sucks even more that a lovely guy like Finn has to suffer for it. But I get it.
We’ll write more about this in the 203 recap, but it seemed pretty clear even in this episode that the show is setting up something of a love triangle for Rae, building her connection with Therapy Liam. I’m sure a lot of people who love Finn/Rae are very upset about this and I can’t fault them for it. You gotta ship what you gotta ship. But personally I’m all for it.
I’ll discuss those reasons in the next recap, like I said, but for now let me just say there is something really delicious about the idea that the fat girl isn’t just the lead of this show, but she’s the object of the hot guy’s affection. AND THE AFFECTION OF ANOTHER GUY. It is so rare to see a fat character as the lead of what is a funny show, but not a comedy. It is even rarer to see that character have a smoking hot love interest. It is beyond rare to see them reject that love interest and be furnished with another. So I’m excited by the idea that Rae is getting a love triangle just like your Elena Gilberts and your Effy Stonems do. Bring it on.
And a final thought: as Rin said, the motif of the ‘Hi Boys’ advertisement is brilliant. And you know what it reminded me of? Cassie’s first episode of Skins and the repeated ‘Eat’. Rae reminds me a lot of Cassie – to the point where I feel like that character was returned to me much more with My Mad Fat Diary than with Skins Pure. And I’m glad of it, even though it hurts. Rae and Cassie are very painful characters to watch, particularly if you identify with their struggles. But they’re also fascinating. And because our focus is on Rae all the way through this show, and because Rae is less artfully inscrutable than Cassie was, we get a much more frank and interior look at the relationship between food and body and mind – between body image and self image – between being and existing and really living the way you think you should or you wish you could.
And that is what Rae’s trying to do here. She’s trying to understand it all. She’s trying to find a way through.
When I first watched this episode I spent a long time scratching my head about that line – “I am doing the thing I’m most afraid of”. It seemed cute and nonsensical to me, because it was so clear that what she was doing was running away – from happiness – from a person that needs her, too. For a while I toyed with the idea that she meant that losing Finn was her greatest fear, and that was a romantic idea and all, but it just wasn’t true. The whole point is that she’s more afraid of what having Finn means than of not having him. That’s the single reason she’s breaking up with him.
But then I realized. Rae’s greatest fear is facing the work she has to do to be okay with herself. Rae’s greatest fear is facing the fact that there is no short-term solution here – that she can’t just wake up one day and be normal – that having a boyfriend isn’t going to make everything okay – not even the loveliest of all boyfriends.
Kester told her she had three choices: leave college, leave Finn or fix the fact that she doesn’t like herself through therapy. As Rae rather adorably pointed out that option with the most words in it would take too long.
What she’s facing here, as she breaks things off with Finn, is that it’s the only real option she’s got. However long it takes she needs to find a way for Rae to love Rae. And maybe when she’s done that, or when she’s just gotten Rae on, you know, friendly acquaintance terms with Rae, she and Finn can come back to each other and be all the things they both wanted.
IN THE MEANTIME I CAN’T WAIT FOR HER TO BREAK HIS HEART WHILE HE PUPPYDOGS AROUND.
It’ll be the greatest.
Rin says: Yes. Yes. Yes.
And you are a cruel person. But I agree. He needs to puppydog around while Rae shows interest in the hot dog fellow. SPOILER HOT DOG ALERT.
“It’s even got these little handle things! For purchase!”
Rin says: FUCKING HELL. FOR. PURCHASE.
The timing of it. They’re in the middle of a ridiculous fight and she still manages to be utterly hilarious and inappropriate. AND DEMONSTRATING THE PURCHASE. Oh Rae, indeed.
Sophy says: I JUST. THE WAY SHE SAID IT. AND HER LITTLE FAAAAAACE. AND JUST THE ALL ROUND DEADPAN PANIC OF IT.