Number of Episodes: 12
Rated: TV MA
Adapted from the best-selling novel of the same name and written by Sally Rooney, “Normal People” is unlike your usual Hulu original series.
It’s deep, beautiful and honestly, depressing. The significance of the series lies within the title, “Normal People” because the characters the story follows are indeed, just normal people — with flaws and imperfections both big and small.
Set in Ireland, the two main characters are Connell (Paul Mescal) and Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones), who grew up on completely different sides of the social spectrum. Daisy comes from a rich family, but is the school loner, whereas Connell is the school’s superstar athlete, with little to no wealth. The two grow closer as Connell’s mom begins to work for Marianne’s mom, and out of nowhere, a spark occurs, and they fall deeply in love. But like a contemporary Romeo and Juliet, their worlds tear them apart and they can never find the right timing to be together or stay together.
“Normal People” is a romance drama, but it deals with hard-hitting underlying themes such as mental health and physical abuse. It is rated TV-MA for reason and with the quality of the show involved as well, I think people 21 years old and older are honestly the only ages that will appreciate the show. It is by no means a “happy” show, but it is, at times, optimistic, and the love story is realistic and gorgeous.
The show reminds me of a cross between “Love, Rosie” (2014) minus the Rom-com element, and “Atonement” (2007), but more contemporary. As I mentioned earlier, the Romeo and Juliet narrative in terms of romance is in place for certain, but again: the show is contemporary and relatable for many adults today. It showcases humanity in its rawest state which ultimately, the lure of the show. Well, that and Paul Mescal’s dreamy Irish brogue.
The two actors are new to the scene, and demonstrate groundbreaking, and even heartbreaking performances in “Normal People.” They very much encompass the characters on the screen and so much so, that you forget it is a scripted show with fictional characters. I have yet to read the best-selling novel, but according to peers who have read it, the show does not disappoint and lines up with the emotions of the book almost perfectly. Thus, if you have read the book and are hesitant about watching the show, this is not the usual case of “the book was better” that audiences usually see happen.
All in all, “Normal People” is rough around the edges but in a stunning way. It is not recommended for a younger age group unlike most Hulu and Netflix series today, but adults who can deal with the strong content will be sure to enjoy — even if they cry the whole way through like I did. I think that “Normal People” will be a strong European awards season contender, and unfortunately may be a little too Irish for American critics to consider, but I for one, loved it. But who knows? At this point, we may not be having an awards season, (I say as I drift off into a deep depression). Regardless, go binge this beauty. I give it an 8 out of 10.