‘Normal People’ is anything but a normal show

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In a time where the world is in a state of uncertainty, there are TV shows that help ease the tension. Hulu’s “Normal People” is one of those shows. Set in Ireland, the show follows Marianne and Connell, an on and off again couple as they navigate their lives through high school and college. 

What makes “Normal People” stand out from traditional romantic shows is the straightforward nature of the show. Writers Alice Birth and Sally Rooney help paint a realistic portrayal of romance in high school and the messy details that come attached to it. The first episode starts off slow as the audience is introduced to Connell and Marianne. By the second episode, however, a relationship between Connell (Paul Mescal) and Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) starts to develop and the show really becomes special to watch.

The third episode is where “Normal People” separates itself from other shows on TV. Connell and Marianne run into problems with their relationship and they break up, leaving Connell in distress. Rather than feeling sorry for Connell, Rooney and Birth paint Connell as someone who deserves feeling heartbroken since he was the one who caused the problems in the relationship. 

“Episode 4” focuses on Connell attending Trinity College in Dublin where he is studying English and living his life until he attends a party and sees Marianne with her new boyfriend. Seeing Connell and Marianne recconnect was awkward at first, but as the episode progressed, there were signs that they both have a desire to rekindle their relationship.

Edgar-Jones and Mescal have terrific chemistry with each other. Their on-screen relationship emulates a couple who loves each other but who have a myriad of personal dilemmas that prevent a stable partnership. Edgar-Jones and Mescal give their best performances in “Episode 4” when their characters reunite at Trinity. Marianne’s transformation from a shy and antisocial school girl to a confident and witty college student within one episode was brilliantly pulled off by Edgar-Jones. As for Mescal, he somehow took the smallest blemishes of Connell and turned it into a personality within the span of a couple of episodes. 

My only gripe with “Normal People” is that the show focuses too much on Connell’s life and not enough on Marianne’s. I find Marianne to be a more interesting character and watching her develop throughout the series made want to see more of her development. 

“Normal People” is a primary example on how to make a romantic TV drama. The tension between Connell and Marianne is realistic and compelling without being over dramatic and sappy. Each episode gets progressively more interesting than the last, and at around 30 minutes per episode, there is enough time to develop each character and situation without the episode becoming a chore to watch. 

If you are in need of a romantic drama to binge, “Normal People” is a great show to watch. After watching only four episodes, I am curious to see where Marianne and Connell take their relationship. If there is anything that I have gotten out of this show is that there is no such thing as a normal relationship.

Rating: 4.25/5

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Ian Ward is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at ian.ward@uconn.edu.

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