Cine_Addict’s review published on Letterboxd:
Mothertrucker dude, that hurt like a butthole on a stick...
Although I don’t think this is the perfectly written, perfectly presented story everyone seems to praise it as (I definitely have problems with the way it avoids the obvious class disparity and the unsubtle, easily dramatic coincidence that all of Marianne’s other partners are just massive dickheads), Normal People is still a fresh and nuanced take on certain subjects and situations. At its core, it’s a less than romantic tale of two flawed individuals who seem destined to keep meeting and falling for one another, despite their personal problems and definite need for counselling always getting in the way. Definitely a story that I’m glad has been told.
I was fully on board at the halfway point, if slightly worried that the to-ing and fro-ing would become monotonous in later episodes. But when the show decides to delve into men’s mental health, something that too many shows fail to even go near nowadays, I found myself unfortunately relating to a lot of what’s shown and said. When you have certain flaws like struggling with showing affection sometimes and telling someone exactly how you feel (thanks a lot childhood), there’s an unhealthy internal dialogue that goes on between you and only you. There’s self hatred involved and it makes you wanna distance yourself further from others to avoid that situation in future. Having a show that portrays mental health as a prison that sours communication for not only one, but two people, is vital in this day and age and I’m glad that there’s been some talk.
However, what does kind of irk me is some of the not so constructive talk around all this. The idea that Connell and Marianne’s relationship is some sort of perfect romantic template for some people, it’s kinda terrifying. Taking the events of the show and romanticising them further comes off as being a bit female fantasy-ish and reducing because while the story itself has romantic moments, the story isn’t inherently romantic. These two characters aren’t meant to be together, they’re crutches for one another at a difficult time in their lives, helping each other build and improve as people past things like suicide, depression and loneliness. If people are seeing this show and it’s story as an ideal relationship, I have no idea what to say to them. Also, it’s great that we have representation regarding mental health but it’s kinda sad that it took a story about two very good looking people who are both extremely talented and end up with all the opportunities they need, for people to pay attention and invest themselves into it all. Like I’ve said, the way the show doesn’t handle any of the issues surrounding class and privilege is kinda limp if you ask me. Fair play for the rep, but it does come off a bit ‘wide appeal’, like the writer wasn’t trying to ground everything too much in reality to keep the romance central. I dunno, if anyone sees it differently, I’m down to talk.
The show does come recommended, just with a caveat. It doesn’t tackle issues that it clearly could’ve, whether that hampers it is down to you.