Editor’s notes: Enjoy this spoiler-free review of Hulu’s Normal People. It boasts two nominations at the Golden Globes for Television Limited Series and best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series. The Golden Globes will take place on 1st of March, 2:00 AM MET.
Normal people is an Irish TV adaptation of the same-name novel by Sally Rooney (who is also creatively involved in the TV version). The series follows the chaotic relationship between Marianne Sheridan (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell Waldron (Paul Mescal). It mainly focuses on Connell and Marianne’s complex relationship from high school in Sligo town to undergraduate students in Trinity College, Dublin.
In high school, Marianne is a lone wolf, that weirdo who is constantly bullied by her schoolmates because of her coldness, sharpness and maybe her wealthy background. Whereas, Connell is the guy everyone likes, a football star, who isn’t an outcast like Marianne. Cornell’s mother, Lorraine (Sarah Greene), works as a housemaid for Marianne’s mother, Denise (Aislín McGuckin), which provides both kids the chance to meet once in a while whenever Connell comes to pick up his mother.
Marianne and Connell’s intense attraction towards each other begins almost unexpectedly and fast. They couldn’t control the spark and before both of them could comprehend what was going on, the sexual journey began. Yes, the series is filled with a whole lot of sex, explicit yet sensitive, but that is not the whole point of the movie. How Rooney made sex as a major groundhold in the series without making it the point is phenomenal. It is a tale of incessant and unconditional love that is beautifully portrayed with lot of sex. It is their way of loving each other without really saying it and their code of communicating.
Sex is used to show how delectable and beautiful their relationship is. When the two lovebirds were seeing each other (having sex) in high school, they both decided to keep it a secret because they think it would be weird if people knew. During this charade, Connell’s friends taunt Marianne every chance they get but Connell never stands up for her. Marianne feels uncomfortable about the situation but feels the need to please Connell and doesn’t want whatever is between them to end anytime soon. They end things between them quite as much as it all started till they meet again in college. Their relationship is an endless cycle of separation and reconciliation.
Marianne becomes the hot cake in Trinity college and Connell finds it hard to adjust and socialize with people (like a role reversal). They both meet unexpectedly in college while Marianne is dating Gareth (played by Sebastian de Souza). The encounter with Connell awakens a buried feeling within Marianne which makes her break up with her boyfriend without any reason. She hovers around Connel as friends at first, then friends with benefit.
It is like there is a force that keeps pulling them close to each other that can’t seem to falter. They are two people who are forever bound to each other. How? They understand each other’s scars, and their imperfections is what makes them perfect for each other. Marianne feels broken and unloved— for a young lady with a dismissive mother and sullen brother, she always feels like a stranger in her own home. Connell is a shy teenage boy who never seems to make up his mind nor does he know what he wants—even at one point in the series he suffers from depression. There is an intense chemistry between the two and it is not an opposite attraction kind of thing. Both are like puzzle pieces and they both need each other to feel complete.
Golden globes nominated series, Normal People is not the usual romantic drama we see everyday. It is immensely powerful with themes of love, loss and acceptance. Basically, the series shows what many teenagers go through, even one as complicated as Marianne and Connell—growth—an inevitable process we must all go through. Daisy Edgar-Jones does a remarkable job, playing such a complicated and layered character like Marianne. The series reeks of misery, suffering, anger and solitude and both characters experience a fair share of this negativity. It helps shape their identity and form them into who they became at the end of the first season.
It is a true depiction of a messy and complex relationship but yet relatable. They continue to stay in and out of each other’s life for several years. It is like continuously putting together pieces of each other and shattering it over and over again to realize who and what they are. Normal people shows that one can still feel alone even when surrounded with people and going through a difficult phase alone in life can be destructive. Just one person who understands someone is enough to share all the brunt and pain of life. The emotional ride in the series is compelling, frustrating and heart wrenching, but so is life. The movie presents the hard truth every teenager tries to battle and refuses to contend with— sometimes, love is never enough.
The open-ended finale of Normal People has left fans wondering if the show will continue. However, neither Hulu nor any of the show creators have announced plans for a second season of the Primetime Emmy nominated series. There is also the issue that the plot of the highly acclaimed novel by Sally Rooney was mostly used up in season one.