Normal People

 

Follows Marianne and Connell, from different backgrounds but the same small town in Ireland, as they weave in and out of each other’s romantic lives.
 

Normal People is an Irish romantic psychological drama television series produced by Element Pictures for BBC Three and Hulu in association with Screen Ireland. It is based on the 2018 novel of the same name by Sally Rooney. The series follows the relationship between Marianne Sheridan (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell Waldron (Paul Mescal), as they navigate adulthood from their final days in secondary school to their undergraduate years in Trinity College. The series was released on BBC Three in the United Kingdom on April 26, 2020, followed by weekly airings on BBC One. In the United States, the series was released in its entirety on Hulu on April 29, 2020. The series has received critical acclaim, with praise for the performances, directing, writing, aesthetics, and its portrayal of mature content. At the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, the series was nominated for four awards.

The focus is mainly Connell’s and Marianne’s complex relationship. Among her peers at secondary school, Marianne is regarded as an oddball, but she denies caring about her social standing. Despite her academic achievements, her home life is complicated by her dismissive mother, Denise, and her resentful brother, Alan. Her father is deceased and is later revealed to have been a domestic abuser, though her family avoids mentioning him. Connell is an athletic, high-achieving student living with his single mother Lorraine, who is employed by Denise as a house cleaner. He is popular in school, though he remains silent while Marianne is constantly bullied. This creates complexity and point of contention as their relationship develops. In addition to that, both characters struggle to articulate their feelings and misread each other’s intentions.

Information

Daisy as: Marianne
Other cast: Paul Mescal, Sarah Greene, Aislin McGuckin, Frank Blake, Eliot Salt, Fionn O’Shea
Episode numbers 12
Directed by: Lenny Abrahamson and Hettie Macdonald
Production Status: Available to stream
Release: 26 April 2020
Genre: Psychological drama/Romance
Distributor: BBC Studios (UK), Endeavor Content (international)
Producers: Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, Emma Norton, Anna Ferguson, Sally Rooney, Lenny Abrahamson, Catherine Magee
Country of Origin: Ireland
Filming Locations: County Sligo and Dublin

 

Related Photos

 

 View Production stills, posters & key-art, related screencaptures & more 

 

Production Notes & Process

In May 2019, it was announced that BBC Three and Hulu ordered 12 episodes based on the novel that would premiere 2020 starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal as Marianne and Connell, respectively. Sarah Greene and Aislín McGuckin were also announced as part of the cast. Sally Rooney herself would help with the adaptation alongside writers Alice Birch and Mark O’Rowe. Lenny Abrahamson and Hettie Macdonald would direct and the Irish company Element Pictures would produce the series.

Principal photography began on location in County Sligo and Dublin in May 2019. Tubbercurry primarily made up the fictional town of Carricklea, with Streedagh Point along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way used for beach scenes, Knockmore House in Enniskerry, County Wicklow for the Sheridans’ residence, a terraced home in Shankill, Dublin for the Waldrons’ residence, and Hartstown Community School in Clonsilla, Fingal, County Dublin for the secondary school scenes featuring real-life students in the background. Students from Trinity College Dublin were also featured in the series while filming at the university. Scenes at Marianne’s Dublin flat were shot on Wellington Road in the affluent area of Ballsbridge. Although set in Trieste in the novel, filming took place in Central Italy, primarily in and around Sant’Oreste, Stimigliano, and the villa Il Casale on Tenuta di Verzano, in Lazio. They waited until February 2020 to film the Sweden scenes in Luleå so snow would be on the ground and the Baltic Sea frozen over for Marianne to walk on.

The first look pictures came out on November 1, 2019. BBC Three and Hulu released their own teasers on January 17, 2020, followed by trailers on March 31, 2020.

Trivia & Facts

  • The series featured music from The Young Will Eat The Old, the debut album from Irish hip hop duo Tebi Rex.
  • After filming wrapped, Paul Mescal gave his character’s signature chain necklace as a gift to Daisy.
  • When the list of students receiving scholarships is read out, one of the names is David Sexton, likely a nod to the book reviewer by the same name who wrote a piece about the novel entitled, “Why Sally Rooney’s love story deserves to win the Man Booker Prize”.
  • Although she plays Paul Mescal’s mother, Sarah Greene is less than twelve years older than him.
  • Daisy Edgar-Jones told the New York Times that filming the period when Marianne is very depressed and looking to violent sex for comfort left her feeling “really strange for a few days; it’s hard not to take that stuff on.”
  • In June 2020, Abrahamson directed Edgar-Jones and Mescal in a one-off spoof short episode as part of RTÉ Does Comic Relief, in which Marianne and Connell give confessions to a priest played by Andrew Scott.
  • The first two episodes were reported to have been watched on RTÉ One by an average of 371,000 viewers with an additional 19,000 on RTÉ One +1 and 301,000 streams on RTÉ Player, becoming the most watched opening of a drama series on RTÉ Player.
  • The finale had over 319,000 viewers, 33% of the total RTÉ audience and 20% increase over the previous week.

Quotes from Daisy

“So I got a fringe. Then literally the week after, I auditioned for War of the Worlds and I got it, and Normal People was my next audition. My fringe is everything. Everything.”

“I think the reason that these characters have been so well-received by both people our own age, and also people who are older, is that it’s a really relatable story of falling in love and growing up, which we all go through. The parts where Marianne sort of falls in love for the first time, I guess I was drawing on what it felt like for me to fall in love for the first time and the similarities in that. So yes, there are parts of Marianne and Connell that I really relate to. But, there are bits that I do feel like are really quite different than me, which was quite fun as an actor—to be able to try and imagine and empathize with someone that you are different from.”

“I remember when it was first released that the show was going to be in 12 episodes, a lot of the people who’d read the book were like, “Gosh, that’s a lot of episodes for quite a short book.” But I think it really is important that there is time and that the pacing is slow because the whole point of the story is the amazing massiveness of the tiniest things that happen in your life when you’re young. The things that really have such a ripple effect on who you become as an adult. And that was a real joy to film because we obviously didn’t film it all in order. So, at the time, we were kind of stepping in between different parts of their lives.”

“t would be really easy to then come to a scene and want to express everything and say all the words that were going on in her head so you knew that the audience would get it. And I think what [directors] Lenny and Hettie, and Alice Birch and Sally who adapted this script, were so clever in doing in that they didn’t feel the need to overexpress anything in terms of dialogue.”

“I was just very lucky to be able to have all that internal dialogue at hand from the book. Therefore, when you were coming to those scenes, it was just a matter of saying the lines with all the thoughts that you knew were going on in your character’s head, and have the camera be so close that you could kind of just think them, you didn’t have to project them so much.”

“What’s been interesting is the reaction to the scene in Episode 3, where Marianne loses her virginity. I’ve seen quite a lot of people say like, “They should share this at school! We should study this!” And I think that’s something I’m quite proud of. I don’t know. I think that sex education at school is often quite lacking in emotion. It’s about biology or like, “This happens. and then you have a baby.””

Critical Reception

The series has received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the series has a 91% “Certified Fresh” rating, with an average score of 8.15/10 based on 85 reviews. The site’s critic consensus states, “Anchored by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal’s vulnerable performances, Normal People is at once intimate and illuminating, beautifully translating the nuances of its source material.” On Metacritic the series has a score of 82 out of 100 based on reviews from 25 critics, indicating “universal acclaim”.

Normal People reportedly gave BBC Three its best ever week on iPlayer (April 26 to May 3), receiving over 16.2 million programme requests across the 12 episodes, about 5 million of which were from 16- to 34-year-olds, and bringing BBC Three requests up to 21.8 million, doubling the previous record of 10.8 million from the release of the first series of Killing Eve. Seventy per cent of BBC Three requests that week were for Normal People and a quarter had finished all 12 episodes. It became the most-streamed series of the year on the BBC, with 62.7 million views from April to November 2020.

Awards & Nominations

☆ 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards – Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special
☆ 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards – Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special
☆ AACTA Awards – Best Actress in a Series (Daisy)
★ RTS Awards – Best Drama

★ = win ☆ = nomination |  View full list 

Promotion

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Daisy did less promotion for the show than she would have perhaps done in normal times. However, she and Paul did several photoshoots and magazine spreads to promote the project.

 View All 2020 Photoshoots |    View All 2020 Magazines  

Promotional Videos

  • Added: Mar 25, 2022   |   Duration: 09:17   |   Views: 308
    Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, stars of the hit Hulu series "Normal People", dive headfirst into the Twittersphere’s obsession with their on-screen romance, and learn that for a lot of people out there, Connell and Marianne are the ultimate OTP.
  • Added: Mar 25, 2022   |   Duration: 22:24   |   Views: 276
    Daisy Edgar Jones & Paul Mescal Discuss the Journey of Making ‘Normal People’ with Daniel Levy. December 21, 2020.

Related Press

02/26/2022
The Guardian
Daisy Edgar-Jones on life after Normal People: ‘Should I be living it up more? Is this how our 20s are supposed to be?’
07/28/2020
Awards Daily
‘Normal People’: Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones on Honest Depictions of Intimacy and Lessons Learned
04/30/2020
The Hollywood Reporter
‘Normal People’ Star Daisy Edgar-Jones Is Having Her Big Break From Home
03/16/2020
Vogue
Meet the Charismatic Stars of the Highly-Anticipated Normal People Adaptation
02/03/2020
WhatsOnStage
Daisy Edgar-Jones: Starring in Normal People was the best way to prepare for my stage debut at the Almeida
05/30/2019
Metro UK
Sally Rooney’s Normal People is coming to BBC and Connell and Marianne have been cast
01/28/2019
Bustle
Marianne From 'Normal People' Has A Seriously Impressive Connection To Helen Mirren