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You may already be familiar with the tragic case that is back in the spotlight for the upcoming release of The Girl From Plainville.
The new Hulu miniseries, which premieres today, will dive into how then 17-year-old Michelle Carter used text messages and phone calls to encourage her then-boyfriend Conrad Roy III to commit suicide at age 18 on July 12, 2014.
Carter was eventually convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2017 and, after a failed appeal, began her prison sentence on February 2019.
Since then, tragic and fascinating details have emerged about Carter’s actions leading up to Roy’s death, and one, in particular, stands out: She was obsessed with the TV show Glee, and it may partially explain why she encouraged Roy to kill himself.
The new show details how many of Carter’s texts to Roy and her friends were taken directly from Glee scripts and features snippets from the episodes.
The hit FOX series starred on- and off-screen couple Lea Michele and Cory Monteith, who died of an accidental overdose in July 2013. Glee paid tribute to Cory and his character, Finn, in an episode in October 2013.
In a February Television Critics Association panel, The Girl From Plainville executive producer and writer Liz Hannah spoke out about why using clips from Glee in The Girl From Plainville was essential to understanding Carter's personality, per Deadline.
"So much of the show is about loneliness and isolation and for every character involved…something that Glee did that I think was so interesting was make people who were lonely feel included," she explained to Deadline. "That was really bittersweet to explore for Michelle’s character—Wthis idea of inclusion through this show when she couldn’t do it in real life."
Coincidentally (or not), that was the same month that Carter started texting Roy snippets from Glee that she passed off as her own words. That included lines about how he'd be going to a better place and that she could learn to live without him.
One example of dialog lifted from Glee: "You were my first love, and I wanted more than anything for you to be my last."
After Roy died, Carter sent texts to her friends that were not only pulled from Glee but also real-life interviews with Lea about her grief over Cory’s passing, according to the 2019 documentary I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter.
One example: Lea told Ellen DeGeneres she felt like the "luckiest girl in the world" when she dated Cory and that he was "the greatest man."
When Michelle texted her friends about Roy, she said, "He was the greatest man I ever knew, and I literally lived every day feeling like the luckiest girl in the world."
Watch Lea Michele's tribute to the late Cory Monteith on the anniversary of his death:
Carter also tweeted about Lea a lot, calling the actress her "WCW forever," and her "favorite person in the whole world and my bae forever," the documentary explained.
The Wall Street Journal reported that in The Girl from Plainville's first episode titled, "Star-Crossed Lovers and Things Like That," Elle Fanning as Michelle Carter practices her mourning pose in a mirror to replicate a scene on Glee to prepare for how she "should" look after Roy's passing.
During the two-part HBO documentary I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter, Esquire journalist Jesse Barron, who originally wrote the article that drew the connections between Carter's actions, also noted a potential link to the 2014 film The Fault In Our Stars.
"At the climax of the movie, the boy Gus is dying in a gas station in a Jeep and he calls his girlfriend for help," Barron said. "I think the question is whether or not she was kind of writing some story in her head or writing some movie that for some reason had to end with him dying, or whether she literally has no idea what she’s done."
Elle Fanning also commented on how she believes the shows Carter turned to for inspiration resonate with teens.
"I think the reason why she, and probably so many of us young people loved Glee or Fault In Our Stars – the YA world – is because you can be the star of that show," she said, per Deadline. "You can put yourself in that fantasy, it’s such an escape for people who feel alone...Glee throughout is so essential. Reading through Michelle’s text throughout, she was a Gleek.”
"Perhaps the oddest thing about this whole Glee obsession is that it "was really under-reported, actually," I Love You, Now Die director Erin Lee Carr told USA Today. "So for me, it was the clearest example that Michelle Carter was living in a different reality."
She went on to say, "When Lea Michele's boyfriend died, she was able to grieve, and everybody looked up to her and said, 'You're doing such a good job.' Potentially, I'm not certain, but what if Michelle Carter was like, 'Maybe that could be me.'"
Of course, that's just conjecture. Everyone has wildly different theories explaining why Michelle Carter did it, and, while the show and documentary do an excellent job of laying them all out, it's still unknown exactly what motivated Carter to help Roy commit suicide.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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