Based on Sally Rooney‘s New York Times best-selling novel, Normal People is written by Rooney and Alice Birch, directed by Lenny Abrahamson and Hettie Macdonald, and aired on BBC One in April 2020. The series tracks the tender but complicated relationship between Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal) as they weave in and out of each other’s romantic lives. From their school days in a small town west of Ireland to their undergraduate years at Trinity College, a strange and indelible connection grows between them.
Sometimes you find a story that really resonates with you, and for me, that was Normal People. I haven’t been so enticed by two characters in a long time, and I just can’t stop thinking about Marianne and Connell and their story.
The first few episodes filled me with the nostalgia of young love – of naive emotions, misplaced affections, and plenty of what-ifs. It makes you think of the relationships from your youth – the ones you wish you hadn’t wasted your time on, but also the ones that you didn’t see right in front of you. Normal People is all about these feelings, the tender moments in a close friendship that you thought nothing of at the time but that you grow up to realise meant something much deeper.
But whilst you can look back on your what-ifs and daydream of happy endings, the second half of the series goes on to explore the reality of the excitement of first love and discovering sex as you head into adult life. As Marianne and Connell find each other in different points of their lives, the series shows that there’s a lot more to love than nervous first kisses and hopeful intentions, as life – with all of its complications – often gets in the way.
It’s incredibly moving in its intimate moments but also heartwrenching in its authenticity. Full of constantly aching emotions, the series is propelled by the performances from Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal who are both absolutely phenomenal. You feel every sting of their hopefulness, vulnerabilities and, ultimately, their despair.
Just as most relationships are, the series is complex and sometimes painful, but also so completely absorbing that you wouldn’t change a thing.