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'My Mad Fat Diary', 'Girls', 'Britain's Brightest': This week in TV

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Girls

© HBO


Girls remains a show enjoyed by the few in the UK. Tucked away on Sky Atlantic, where only Game of Thrones has managed to pull in ratings of note, it would be easy to dismiss Lena Dunham's ultra-cool comedy as irritating hipster fodder and trendier-than-thou HBO fodder that was trading off its image rather than its laughs.

But if you've so far been put off Girls by the hype and endless broadsheet thinkpieces, I'd advise you ditch your preconceptions and give Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna a go. Aside from all the chitter chatter about what the show represents (zzzz!), what it all means (yawn), how different it is to Sex and the City (who cares?), Girls is just seriously funny.

From Hannah's bonkers and scary boyfriend Adam ("Did you like f**king me? I think you did. I came. You came hard. We had a laugh"), to Marnie's tragic awkwardness ("I could never be a gay man. I hate giving blowjobs and anal sex... I assume"), via Shoshanna's loveable doofiness ("I am woman, hear me roar. Do you know what I mean? I may be deflowered, but I am not devalued"), this isn't a show with its head up its rear.

Girls: Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath

© HBO



If you only read about Girls, you'd presume it was a so-hip-it-hurts non-com, packed with knowing winks and sadly vacant when it comes to laughs. But that couldn't be further from the truth. The characters in the show may all have privileged backgrounds, but without exception, they're all losers. Either through naivety, pretentiousness or just plain bad luck, their 20s are not what they wanted them to be and nearly everyone can associate with that. If you can't? Go outside and play with your Ferrari.

Nakedness, terrible relationships and killer one-liners ("Maybe I want to be Wendi Murdoch. Maybe that's my thing.") are Lena Dunham's strong suit and long may she continue to live these talents out through Hannah's flesh-flashing, bumbled relationships and fondue nights with her gay ex-boyfriend. In the words of Shoshanna, Oh. Em. Effing. G. Girls is great.

Girls continues on Monday nights on Sky Atlantic

'My Mad Fat Teenage Diary' - Rae (Sharon Rooney)

© Channel 4


My Mad Fat Diary airs on Mondays on E4
"Stick on Now 33. Are you kidding, it's got 'Father and Son' by Boyzone on it." As someone who grew up with posters of Oasis, Pulp and Blur plastered on his bedroom wall, My Mad Fat Diary was a nostalgia-fest that really struck the mark. It was a Gallagher-esque strut down Britpop memory lane, which felt all the more cosy in the week that HMV went bust.

Ocean Colour Scene, Kula Shaker, lemon Hooch and cut-outs of Damon Albarn. Anyone who lived their teenage years between 1994 and 1997 would have felt right at home with this new E4 teen drama, which takes the diaries of Rae Earl and gives them a '90s twist.

Sharon Rooney makes her TV debut as awkward teen Rae, who has a history of mental health issues, a bonkers mum who sleeps with foreign lovers and goes on alphabet diets ("I started on 'S' because I got a load of scotch eggs on the cheap") and a group of mates who think that knowing their Eels from their Manic Street Preachers is all that really matters in the world.

'My Mad Fat Teenage Diary' - Rae Earl (Sharon Rooney), Archie (Dan Cohen)

© Channel 4



British teen dramas work best when they capture the intense awkwardness and raging insecurities of adolescent life and My Mad Fat Diary does that with some serious style and a killer sense of humour. There's a dark edge to Rae's character as she deals with her demons and as she bumbles her way through teen crushes ("I want to sex his face") she's easy to root for.

The sheen, gloss and Hollywood looks of US teen dramas such as Glee or 90210 provide fun and escapism, but I can't take the stunning Lea Michele seriously as a teen role model. As if she's ever had a spotty back or a hangover that feels like "an orangutan being sick on my brain".

My only request for next week? Can we have some Shed Seven on the soundtrack please?

Britain's Brightest: Clare Balding

© BBC / RDF

Clare Balding


Britain's Brightest is back every Saturday on BBC One
Say what you want about Splash! - and believe me I have - you couldn't ever call it boring. It may be tacky, it may be crass, it may have Vernon Kay in shorts, but hey, it's Saturday night TV.

ITV's mixture of Tom Daley buttocks and Eddie The Eagle in a Borat-esque swimsuit diving off a highboard is not highbrow, heck, it's not even lowbrow. But I'd take it every time over the BBC alternative - Britain's Brightest. Britain's Boringest more like.

Two women guessing the weight of random people. Nerds doing their times tables. Miserable old pedants picking out spelling mistakes. This isn't a TV show, it's the letters page from the Daily Telegraph.

Clare Balding was the TV revelation of 2012, lighting up the Beeb's Olympics coverage with a passion, smarts and enthusiasm rarely seen in Auntie's sports presenters, but she's found herself a hell of a duffer with this Saturday night snooze-along. The TV equivalent of sitting a maths exam, this isn't entertainment, it's punishment.

Missed It? Don't miss out!
Utopia S01E01

© Channel 4


Utopia - This bonkers but brilliant new Channel 4 series had Twitter buzzing this week with its weird and baffling storyline and gruesome spoon scooping antics (don't ask). But aside from its clear shock factor, this was one of the strongest slices of homegrown British drama in quite some time. Dive in quick. - Utopia episode one is still available on 4OD

Fringe - My colleague Morgan Jeffery bid the sci-fi series an emotional farewell this week and his words and passion are better than anything I can write here, so just make sure you watch it. And if you haven't seen any of it before. go buy the DVDs! - Fringe is available on Sky Go

What has been your best and worst TV this week? Let us know below!

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