TV Takes: ‘Normal People’ on Hulu is slow and sad but also good

The angst-filled romance is based on a popular 2018 book by Sally Rooney.
TV Takes illustration
TV Takes illustration [ LISA MERKLIN | Times ]
Published June 30, 2020

Editor’s note: TV Takes is a new series in which our staff offer their thoughts on the TV they’re watching at the moment. Not just new shows, but rediscovered favorites and decade-old shows we’re watching for the first time — anything you can stream from your couch.

Name of show: Normal People

When it debuted: April 26, 2020

Where you can watch it: Hulu

What’s it about: Normal People is an angst-filled romance based on a popular 2018 book by Sally Rooney, about two teens from different parts (and socioeconomic statuses) of an Irish town. They find each other in high school, fall into a passionate romance they feel they have to hide from the world, then rekindle in college and beyond. Daisy Edgar‑Jones plays Marianne Sheridan, the less popular, wealthier half of the teen relationship, and Paul Mescal plays Connell Waldron, a high school athlete who lives with a single mom who works for Marianne’s family.

Is it worth watching? Remember your first teen romance? The thrill and awkwardness of every glance and touch? The difficulty of putting all your many feelings into words? Normal People thrives on that, to compelling effect. And I’m just going to say it: There is a lot of sex. It is quite passionate and quite convincing. And though there is a lot more going on in the show, the chemistry between the two lead actors is absolutely the reason to keep watching. Both Edgar-Jones and Mescal are perfect, but Mescal in particular has the kind of star power that pops. I can’t say I thoroughly loved every moment of each 30-minute episode: Though beautifully observed, the show is kind of slow, and the central relationship is realistic but also rather frustrating. Just talk to each other! Say what you mean! But it’ll draw you in, especially its more intimate moments.