We need to take several moments to talk about the icon that is Rae Earl. Remarkably human, so organically flawed and raunchy-hilarious in the way that makes your sides stitch up, Sharon Rooney as Rachel “Rae” Earl in the BAFTA-nominated comedy-drama series My Mad Fat Diary—adapted from real-life Rae Earl’s memoir “My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary”—is, well, a Rae of sunshine. I say with full conviction, sans hesitation, that she is the single most important female character I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching in a television series. What Hermione Granger did for me as a wee child, Rae Earl did for me as a teen-something attempting to navigate the big, wide world.
My Mad Fat Diary—or MMFD for short—is a dream. Set in a part-historic, part-idyllic Lincolnshire, England in the height of 90s Brit-punk, the show follows Rae through her battles with mental health, body dysmorphia, self-acceptance and self-discovery and, like most teens, sex, romance and relationships. She’s got a motley crew by her side with just as much heart and humour as she does—though they always seem too pale standing near her bright light. And, thankfully for us, we get to witness her glow in all its glory on Hulu, as the streaming site has just released the show in full. In celebration of the recent release—and as an excuse to gush over just how important Rae Earl is to me—here are ten of her very best lines. Revel in their magnificence.
It’s important to remind ourselves that we, to our core, are beautiful people. A little dose of self-indulgent, self-confident mirror talk is enough to brighten what could be a bleak day. And from Rae’s perspective, it’s doubly important. As a teen girl—who struggles with disordered eating and intrusive destructive thoughts on top of societal pressures and norms that push a certain image of attractiveness onto her—hearing her say those words to herself is wonderful. Go out there and stun ’em, Rae!
Rae’s gone through a lot in her sixteen years, not the least of which have been absolutely terrifying. But she never once buckled past repair—there was emotional vulnerability, and even breakdowns, but defeat was never conceded. Her actions in the scary moments shaped her future into one in which she’d be proud and comfortable to live.
Has there ever been a more accurate description of what happiness feels like? Especially those feel-good moments after what has felt like an eternity of struggle and hardship.
This is similar in tone to the Mean Girls quote, “There are two kinds of evil people: People who do evil stuff, and people who see evil stuff being done and don’t try to stop it.” And they’re sage words—when good people, like Rae or Archie or Izzy, stand idle and don’t speak up, bad things inevitably happen. Rae’s realization of this fact is so crucial to her development; not only does she understand her own goodness, she also sees how it goes beyond her own body and her own worldview. While at times it can be hard to believe, Rae has the capacity for positive influence, and it’s so good to see her see that for herself.
OK, bring on the waterworks. Without spoiling anything, this line is probably the most important in My Mad Fat Diary’s run. I love it, and I love Rae Earl.