The TV series Normal People has been a huge success with the audience and critics alike. In fact, many agree that the TV adaptation is better than the original book, written by Sally Rooney. This is a rarity in itself, as literary originals are generally considered superior to their big-screen counterparts.
The success of this series is almost certainly due to the chemistry between the two lead actors. Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal) make the story shine. Furthermore, the attraction between them is magnetic.
Normal People is a treat for the senses. You get carried away by the warmth and sincerity of these two young people and their emotions. Furthermore, the difficulties they experience in trying to find themselves. It’s a love story interspersed with the varying emotions of all the different stages of youth.
A love story
Normal People tells the story of teenage love. It’s intense like the movies The Bridges of Madison County and The Painted Veil. It’s a story of the good, bad, and confusing aspects of first love.
Unlike the almost cartoonish depictions of movies like After, Fifty Shades of Grey, and 365 Days, the sex scenes in Normal People are intimate. Although it’s extremely explicit, it’s both artistic and believable at the same time. It’s a recommended viewing for teenagers and adults alike.
A typical high school story with deeply emotional characters
Set in Ireland in 2010, Normal People is about high school classmates from a small town. Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) comes from a wealthy family and Connell (Paul Mescal) is their housekeeper’s son. Nevertheless, class dynamics don’t play too much of a role in their story until later when they’re both at college.
This brooding TV series is basically about growing up. It revolves around the painful process of saying goodbye to the person you were to become the person you must be if you want to be successful in life.
In high school, Connell is extremely popular yet modest. On the other hand, Marianne is an outcast. However, they’re both extremely intelligent and are instantly attracted to one another. They start having sex and are able to talk to each other like they can’t with anyone else.
The importance of sex in Normal People
When Marianne and Connell first get naked together, they’re completely at ease with each other. Furthermore, there’s nothing raunchy or remotely fake about the scene. There’s a real sense that these two young people genuinely want to get to know each other. They do so, quietly and pleasurably, in the first sex scene of the show.
While sex is an end in itself in some teen stories, this show portrays it in the way of young people experimenting with their identity.
Sex is portrayed as a way of expressing the relationship between two people. The scenes are extremely realistic and even portray inevitable awkward moments. In fact, the show successfully depicts what a healthy uninhibited sexual relationship should look like.
Sex and love end up revealing Connell’s insecurity, despite his popularity. Marianne, whose self-esteem is undermined by her uncaring family, eventually becomes masochistic.
Principles and humiliation
When Marianne initially suggests that they should keep their relationship a secret, Connell agrees. This is because he’s popular at school and has a well-established social network. On the other hand, Marianne is just too complicated.
His decision resonates throughout their relationship for years. However, when both graduate high school and start attending Trinity College, Marianne meets the kinds of people she feels comfortable with. But Connell feels out of place.
Marianne enjoys her new environment, but Connell struggles to adapt to university, which scars him deeply.
They reconnect as friends and then as a couple, with no luck. In fact, it seems that, for “normal people”, the hope of a conventional relationship is almost a utopian ideal. During his years at college, Connell struggles with money and depression. Marianne has problems with her family.
Both have triumphs and setbacks. They travel, have relationships with other people, and then go back to each other. They’re like two waves breaking on the shore, one always slightly out of sync with the other.
The movie is extremely faithful to the novel. However, the tone of the TV series is warmer and dreamier than the rather stark prose of Rooney’s book.
Normal People is a binge-worthy TV show that invites you to reflect.
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