Two things you absolutely must do if you're coming into Normal People — the BBC import now available on Hulu — cold. First is to either read the book by Irish author Sally Rooney (opens in new tab) . (Or at least read the Wikipedia entry .) Because this show is long on feelings and short on exposition. And if you don't know anything about it ahead of time, you're going to wonder just who these people are, whether they're the normal ones, and why everyone is just so awful.
The second thing you probably should do is flip on the captions, unless you're used to the speed and diction of folks on the northwestern coast of Ireland. It's fast, and a little unusual for folks in the United States. But that's decidedly not a knock on Normal People itself.
OK, one more. This is a young love/young adult kind of story. But watch it with your kids in the room at your own risk. there's a lot of sex.
Once you get the lay of the land, you get that this is is show (and story, and book) that's packed full of the feels, and not at all a bad take on the complications of young relationships and the awfulness of school-age interactions.
The gist, if you've not skipped ahead and done the Wikipedia thing already, is that we're following Marianne and Connell. She's smart and sarcastic and bored and attractive. Teachers loathe her. Her schoolmates loathe her even more. Everyone except for Connell, that is. He's a rugby jock with the friends you'd expect a rugby jock to have. (The thought that he wouldn't throw a rager while his mom is away is beside them.)
The pair are complicated from the start. Connell's mother cleans house for Marianne's family. So the two run into each other outside of school — and outside the view of all of their classmates. She likes him. He likes her. And without the distractions of the awful people at school, they have no problem actually articulating their feelings for each other — to say nothing of actually acting on them.
This isn't what you'd call an exciting, fast-paced watch. It's dark in all kinds of ways, including in its cinematography. Shadows fall everywhere, making the highlights stand out that much more. But there's nuance here that's so often lacking in American shows of this ilk. (Which probably is a judgment on American culture in general, but that's another discussion for another time.)
How to watch Normal People in the United States
Normal People is on Hulu. It's available with commercials on the standard Hulu service, but it's definitely a quicker watch if you've gotten rid of the adverts . Each episode is a half-hour long, but in reality they run shorter than that. That's not a bad thing in this case — I'd argue Normal People is best is smaller doses. And to that end, Hulu is releasing it bit by bit in the U.S.
Hulu has gone ahead and released all the episodes, though, so you can watch at your own pace. No weekly wait for this one.
Watch Normal People
Get ready to feel everything
Marianne is brilliant and difficult and inexperienced, and most of her classmate loathe her. Connell is a jock, but a decent one. There's no way these two should be together.
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