Lately I’ve been catching up on My Mad Fat Diary and The Mindy Project. Aside from the coming-of-age entertainment (for the former) (and I suppose the latter as well, because even people in their thirties are still coming of age in many ways), and the banter that I look forward to at the end of each day, the two shows offer more than the laughter I hoped they would. This much shows aren’t needed to distract me from my post grad school interview nerves, but I can almost never resist a peek into the lives and minds of interesting characters.
Be warned: Spoiler alert.
My Mad Fat Diary is about Rae Earl, a sixteen year old girl from Lincolnshire who just got out of the psychiatric hospital. I love how she’s self-aware, honest, scared, brave, and genuine. She struggles with transitioning through unusual and the usual life stages, her relationship with food, and being around people. Season one was a story of life after therapy, and I admire the portrayal of her struggle in becoming ‘normal’ again, which involves things like loneliness, bringing it up with friends, and how to tread carefully enough to avoid unnecessary hurt upon others while not going too mad yourself. How does one face the fear of letting people whose perspectives mean so much to you, whose friendship means a lot to you, know something so fragile and stigmatized. (It was 1996) How do you deal with rejection, whether from yourself, or the rejection you fear from others? The episodes take me through highs and lows within 45 minutes (and the commercials in between), squealing in kilig/glee in one moment and subconsciously furrowing my brown fifteen minutes later.
There is a lovable cast of characters as well, such as an attention-needing pretty best friend, an ex-crush who couldn’t come out of the closet, a seemingly rude audiophile, a delicate but wise friend back at the hospital, her mum, etc. British humor is dry, and their curses are politely crude. I love it. The season ends with a wedding, and with dealing with a chaos of rejection, self-implosion, and one of my favorite lines, “I’ll always hurt people. And I’ll always let people down. I’m so sorry, mom. I just hate myself so much more than I could love anything.” Stuff happens. Then her best friend Tix pulls her back in, and tells her, “What? Did you think you could just slip out of the world with nothing happening because of it? Do you think anyone could do that?”
The show gets even better in season two, where she’s in a relationship (with one of my favorite characters) that’s more than she ever hoped for. So much so that she could not understand at all why this person was interested in her. When something remotely close to it happens to me, I find myself asking the same thing as well, “What on earth is wrong with this person who likes me? What the hell is he doing with somebody like me?” It was terrible; she even felt embarrassed for him for being seen with her. I’m still working my way through the season, but I’m proud of her, and of her friends. They’ve come a long way in a show that reveals their development in a simple, self-deprecating manner that often gives me the feels.
She’s a cooler teenager than I was back when I was naively sixteen. At sixteen, small decisions felt like their repercussions were more significant than they were. Troubles were often overwhelming, and it was challenging to learn how to create healthy coping mechanisms. All these were documented in several diaries that are gathering dust somewhere across the world. Off-tangent, but I loved this little bit on food:
Rae Earl, you just get me.
The Mindy Project is on its fourth season, and it is poignantly funny in its genuine reflection of conflicts that many couples face today:
- One believes in the institution of marriage, the other doesn’t. They’re on their way to their first child. What compromise will take place?
- The father wants the mother to stay at home round the clock, to take care of the household and to be there for their child. Which isn’t a bad thing. As long as everyone is okay with it. But what if the mother enjoys her work and is really good at it? What if she wants to launch new business endeavors, but he wants to have more kids, and for her to take care of her business more like a hobby? How to deal with this. (Would men be willing to swap roles, and how would we adjust to this becoming a norm, since it’s something that’s been happening for years already anyway. Not super prevalent, but it’s emerged more through the years)
- Why is it so hard to know what we want, but have a hard time putting it into words, in an honest conversation, with people we love painfully much.
At a time when women continue to embrace independence, it’s fascinating to see how roles in the family are impacted. I’ve observed that women worked twice. The nine-to-five job for the first half of the day, and then taking care of the household when they got home (laundry, cooking, making sure the kids are doing their homework, making sure that everything on the homefront was in order). Eventually, something gives. How does the family unit recognize this change, and adjust in a way that can be good for everyone? If this has been the direction women are evolving towards, what about the fathers/husbands? I’m curious to see where Kaling will take the show.
To quote a hulu commenter for episode 13: my emotions are dropping their panties. It also bears mentioning how much great Mindy’s outfits are. I would love to be given a makeover by her stylist.
Anyway, that’s all. Must refrain from watching the new episode that’s came out today.
To my friends reading this: any good shows you’ve seen lately?