This article is from Thrillist
Sally Rooney's Normal People -- both the acclaimed novel and the new Hulu show derived from it -- is a love story that hinges on a connection that is sometimes literally ineffable. Over the course of their years-long, on-again-off-again romance, Marianne and Connell are physically drawn together and fundamentally understand each other on a bone-deep level but don't articulate their grander desires, leaving pockets of heartbreak in their wake. In the book, Rooney provides their internal monologues. On screen, it's the responsibility of actors Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal to convey love, lust, regret, and pain all without saying what they really mean most of the time. "I think it's really exciting to allow an audience to empathize with you without having to over-explain what you're feeling," Edgar-Jones explains during a Zoom call last week.
While Edgar-Jones has amassed some British television credits, including a few episodes of HBO's Gentleman Jack, this is Mescal's first on-screen role. In 12 episodes, Marianne and Connell transform from nervous teens divided by class and social status -- she's rich and an opinionated outcast; he's poor and a popular jock -- into young adults grappling with depression and loneliness. Set in Rooney's native Ireland, Normal People starts as a secret romance. Connell, whose mother is the housekeeper for Marianne's family, believes that revealing their hookup would hurt his standing with his friends. When they re-encounter each other as students at Trinity College Dublin, their dynamic has shifted. She has flourished in academia; he feels out of place. The series is written by Rooney with playwright Alice Birch and directed by Lenny Abrahamson and Hettie MacDonald, and it lingers in Marianne and Connell's gazes. It's incredibly intimate, from the silent language they share to the explicit sex scenes.