Normal People, the title of it might not hold too much weight but in terms of how it is to watch, this series is probably one of the best we have laid our eyes on in a while. Simple in its approach, Normal People is currently nominated for 2021 Golden Globe for Best Limited Series and is now available to binge first on Showmax.
We’ve only just started watching it and we can’t get enough of it. This BBC series follows Marianne and Connell, Irish teens from the same small town but with very different backgrounds, as they weave in and out of each other’s lives from the first sparks between them in high school to their tumultuous college years.
Normal People also earned two further Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Directing for Lenny Abrahamson (Room), who directed the first six of the show’s 12 half-hour episodes, with BAFTA winner Hettie Macdonald (Howard’s End, Doctor Who) directing the second half of the series.
Daisy Edgar-Jones (War of the Worlds) was nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA earlier this year for her role as Marianne, while Paul Mescal won a BAFTA for his breakout role as Connell, with nominations for an Emmy, a Critics Choice Award and an MTV TV Award for Breakthrough Performance.
“It’s really interesting to tell a story of two young people growing up from 17 to 22, because those years in your life are massive,” Daisy says. “They need each other and they settle each other in a way that no one else can really. At times they are toxic and don’t communicate, but when they do, they speak to each other in a way that they can’t speak to anyone else.”
Successfully translating the book for TV meant getting that physical chemistry on screen. “Normal People is a love story,” Lenny says. “So part of the story is this amazing sexual connection. It’s a rewarding and healthy and a good thing that they have together, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s such an extraordinary novel: it treats sex and young people in a positive way, as opposed to the dystopian way that that world and sexuality is sometimes shown to young people.”
Daisy compares intimacy coordinators to stunt coordinators, and sex scenes to stunt sequences. “I really can’t believe that it hasn’t been the norm to have someone there to help us, because it’s a stunt at the end of the day. Just like with a fight, you are simulating something that isn’t real, and you need to make it look realistic, but it’s also important that we feel psychologically safe within the boundaries too, because it’s a vulnerable place to put yourself.”
“I’m really excited about people seeing this,” Lenny says, “because I think there’s something special about the two characters, and something really special about the two actors who are playing them. Daisy and Paul’s performances are so compelling that I think by the time you come to the end of this story, you will never forget Connell and Marianne.”
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