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“Normal People” is Nothing Special

If you, like me, have been spending all the extra alone time during quarantine to binge hours and hours of TV, you may have heard about new BBC and Hulu drama “Normal People.” Based on Sally Rooney’s novel of the same name, the show follows on-again, off-again couple Marianne and Connell in their tumultuous relationship through high school and college. Typical romance drama problems plague their relationship, such as differences in popularity and socioeconomic statuses and frustrating miscommunications. This is all pretty standard guilty pleasure, dramatic fare. All of us have watched a fictional couple break up over miscommunication that could have been easily remedied if the characters just talked to each other. “Normal People” is no different, and it often left me too frustrated to continue watching.

These issues surprised me as I watched it, because “Normal People” has garnered praise for its progressive nature in depicting intimate scenes realistically and subverting gender stereotypes for its two leads. Reviewers and celebrities alike have raved about it. James Corden even wrote on Twitter that it “may have changed [his] life,” and that “It’s the best show [he’s] watched in so long.”

I won’t lie, I think it’s a sweet love story. And I appreciate the care directors Lenny Abrahamson and Hettie Macdonald put into highlighting consent and creating a safe space for the actors. The actors playing Marriane and Connell — Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, respectively — have undeniable chemistry on-screen and off (this moment at 2:56 where Mescal calls Edgar-Jones “so cute … it’s ridiculous” is especially charming).

Though most reviews are positive, the Roger Ebert review likened watching “Normal People” to a “bad date that refuses to end.” In a way, I agree. I could only stand watching the protagonists break up and get back together for so long before getting annoyed by the histrionics. But, I disagree that the leads are “obviously incompatible.” I think Marianne and Connell are compelling when together but excruciating when apart, which unfortunately, is a lot of the show.

Basically, it’s a standard soapy romance drama with a will-they-or-won’t-they trope plotline and some exceptional features. If you’re into that kind of thing, or have too much time and have exhausted your to-watch list, this might be the show for you.

  • Have you seen “Normal People”?

    • Yes, loved it!
    • Yeah, it was OK
    • Hated it
    • No but I want to
    • Never heard of it

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Written by Abby Sacks

Student at the University of Virginia studying Psychology and Media Studies. When not writing or hanging out with my cat, can be found watching too much bad TV and being too old for TikTok but enjoying it anyway.

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