You may have heard about the chilling, confusing, and incredibly tragic story of Carter, the 17-year-old girl who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her then-boyfriend Roy to commit suicide at age 18 on July 12, 2014.
The controversial trial captivated—and divided—the nation, as the court decided whether the text messages Carter sent encouraging Roy to take his own life were, in fact, illegal or simply immoral.
The HBO documentary, I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter, revisited Carter's case. But notably, both Michelle Carter and her parents declined to take part.
Now, The Girl From Plainville attempts to recreate what happened leading up to Carter's trial and sentencing.
Carter’s parents, David and Gail Carter, are played by Kai Lennox and Cara Buono in Hulu's new show. In real life, her parents were also present in court throughout their daughter's entire trial.
Here's what you need to know about them:
Who are Michelle Carter's parents, exactly?
Hailing from Plainville, Massachusetts—where they raised their daughter—David and Gail were, by all accounts, fairly normal suburban parents. David was the sales manager at a forklift supplier, while Gail staged interiors for real estate agents, per Esquire.
Before Carter was charged, Gail showed support for Roy's mother.
According to Esquire, in August 2014—before Carter's mother knew her daughter was involved in Roy's suicide—she texted his mom, Lynn Roy, "I think about you, your family, and Conrad every day. My heart breaks for all of you, as well as for Michelle, who loved Conrad as much as a 17-year-old girl could."
Here's what else Roy's mother, Lynn, had to say about her son during the trial:
The Carters have repeatedly defended their daughter.
In March 2015, Carter's parents released a statement to the Boston Herald, in which they said she wasn't the "monster" the public often called her.
"Our hearts have and remain broken for the Roy family. For everyone that does not know our daughter, she is not the villain the media is portraying her to be," they wrote. "She is a quiet, kind, and sympathetic young girl. She tried immensely to help Mr. Roy in his battle with depression. We know that once all of the facts are released, our daughter will be found innocent."
Gail shared photos on social media of her daughter at Disney World after Roy’s death.
Many were shocked in May 2015 when news broke that Carter's mom, Gail, had posted several photos on Facebook of Carter at Walt Disney World with friends.
After Michelle was arrested, she was banned by a judge from using social media, but Gail continued to update her Facebook page with photos of her at prom, Disney World, etc. "'It just doesn't feel like she's grieving—and that's really confusing for us," Conrad's aunt, Becky Maki, told the Boston Herald.
David pleaded with a judge for leniency in Carter's jail sentence.
At one point, David even wrote a heartfelt letter to Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz, asking him to be lenient on Carter.
In a letter written to Moniz in 2017 that was obtained by the Boston Herald, David wrote, "I pray to God you will take into consideration that Michelle was a troubled, vulnerable teenager in an extremely difficult situation and made a tragic mistake."
"I am 100 percent sure she was only trying to do what in her mind was right for Conrad," he continued. "She has accepted the court's decision and I hope you will consider a term of probation and continued counseling for her and us. She will forever live with what she has done and I know will be a better person because of it."
He also submitted a character statement to the court.
In that statement, David suggested an answer to the question on everyone's minds: Why did Michelle Carter do it? "I am convinced the medication she was taking affected her mental state which made it difficult for her to distinguish between right and wrong," he wrote.
This was—at least partially–informed by the testimony of the defense's expert witness, Dr. Peter Breggin, MD, a psychiatrist, who said Michelle suffered from "involuntary intoxication" after switching her prescription antidepressants from Prozac to Celexa in April 2014, per Esquire.
It should be noted that, by Dr. Breggin's own admission during his cross-examination, "involuntary intoxication" is a "legal term," not an official mental health term found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Cara Buono said the show created a 'fictionalized version' of Gail Carter.
Actress Cara Buono said she was drawn to "the depths that [The Girl From Plainville] went to explore the complexity of all the characters and peel back the layers," per Distractify. But since Gail has never spoken to the press, Cara said the show created a "fictionalized version" of her instead.
"You think you know what's going on with your kid. ... It's the biggest realization of your worst-case scenario, I mean that her daughter's complicit and the reality, the reality that she's complicit in [Conrad's] death," Cara said. "I think for me, it was, we were trying to create ... a woman who was trying, but not successful in connecting with her daughter."
The Girl From Plainville premiered on March 29.
New episodes will drop on Hulu every Tuesday until May 3.
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