Normal People

Over the past two nights I have binge watched the TV show Normal People. After hearing rave reviews, I knew I had to check it out, and to be honest, in it's own way, it was perfect. Emphasis on in its own way. Allow me to explain.


Love isn't perfect. It never is. And that's the point of this whole show. To show an accurate, raw and honest depiction of love in the current age. To show how sometimes, even two people loving each other, isn't enough for a relationship to work, or even be healthy. I've heard people exclaim that they wish the ending was different, that they wish they ended up together properly, living their best lives. But in my opinion, that would have completely ruined the show, on reflection. As much as we ship Connell and Marianne, and want them to be together, it wouldn't have made sense for this nitty gritty drama to suddenly become an airy fairy romance tale with the picture perfect happy ending. It was never going to be that. Like I said, it was always going to be an accurate, raw and honest depiction of love right now, especially young love. 

Connell and Marianne's situationship (a situationship is that space between a committed relationship and something that is more than a friendship) reminded me of 2 different situationships I have been in throughout my teenage years and more recently. Not the same, but there were certainly aspects I strongly related to. Two in particular were Marianne's frustrations at Connell being so secretive, especially at school, and Connell's apparent inability to show affection in public even though he would repeatedly tell Marianne that he loved her. 

The Frustration

It was so easy to empathise with Marianne and her frustrations with Connell's lack of commitment and public acknowledgement of the two together - even though she obviously feared both of those aspects herself. She had that upmost desire to be wanted, loved and protected, which possibly kept her in the situationship more often than not. I felt this on a deep level. There was so obviously love there, but it just wasn't enough - she needed more. It's confusing as you're meant to believe that love conquers all, but there's needs to be other elements to make a relationship healthy and functional too. Connell's lack of acknowledgement to Marianne - well, I've been there, and it feels like such a huge conflict. On the one hand you have someone telling you how much they love you, how much they care, but then their actions of keeping it all hush hush says something completely different. You're torn. What are you meant to believe?

Lack Of Affection

Connell's lack of affection towards Marianne in public probably did a whole lot more damage that he would ever realise. It is almost like a constant reminder that you're not quite good enough. However, I do empathise with him too. I could tell it was his biggest struggle, and he was angry at himself more than anything, for feeling incapable of being able to love the person with the love they really, truly deserved. Neither of the characters were perfect, but again, that is the point. Once again, it's an ordinary, typical, unfortunate love story. 

I described the show to a friend as brilliantly not that brilliant. It was done in a way that it was gripping whilst being nothing extraordinary, but once again, that was the point! It was meant to be regular. Ordinary. NORMAL! It was never going to be a romantic Netflix teen original. (You all know that I do love those too!) It wasn't and shouldn't have been a dreamland, airy fairy interpretation of love. 

We waited the whole series for Marianne to finally say I love you too to Connell. Which is interesting if you think about it. He was always the one to reassure Marianne that he loved her, even if she seemed like the one who was trying. She finally gave him the reassurance that he needed, which she might have not realised he needed. Who knows, maybe if she had acknowledged this sooner, and reassured him just as he was reassuring her, it would have set them on a different path. But again, the point of it being not the epic story many people anticipated. 

To me, the sign of a good show is one that keeps me on my toes and keeps me guessing. I am usually really decent at noticing foreshadowing and predicting what was to happen. The two main things I predicted did happen, but they happened in alternative ways that I wasn't fully expecting. I expected something to happen with the teacher and Connell, which did happen but not on the scale I thought it would (I guess I expected this to maybe be a bigger plot line, but this was in the first few episodes when they were still at school, and I thought they would be at school for longer!) and I also expected there to be themes of rape, which with the situation in Sweden, they certainly did touch on. I really liked how the whole thing was written, the tension was there throughout and it really did keep me on my toes, as I felt like with a lot of the scenes, the viewers were made to feel like something huge was about to happen, yet it didn't. It was filled with anti-climatic moments, which on reflection once again, made the most sense. Maybe I am just too used to all those over-romanticised programmes, which haven't skewed my perception of love (because I have experienced a similar love to Connell's and Marianne's myself) but has made me expect the big bust ups and huge gestures when watching something on TV. I guess none of us are used to seeing that kind of honesty on our screens, and I guess I am really grateful that there are now more shows that give us a kind of reassurance, that love is complicated. I guess that's the only word I can use for it. 

I have used the word perfect in this piece a lot to describe a show that was so normal. Perfectly, normal. But to me, the ending was perfect. I don't think there needs to be a season two and I am really glad they didn't run off to New York together. It just wouldn't have been right. At first, I was disappointed at their apparent naivety. Someone described it to me as a confidence, that no matter what, they would end up together, which is why they felt okay about going their separate ways for now. To me, that was naive, as you never know what could happen, and if they really wanted something, they should just act now, and compromise. However, they probably would have just ended up in the same cycle. Sadly, it just seemed like it would never work. The ending just needed to be a repetition of what had already happened several times throughout the show, them just somewhat amicably agreeing that they need to be separated. 

In my personal experience, I would always be annoyed if I liked someone and they liked me, but nothing came of it, because what other factors need to come into play? Isn't that enough? But I have come to realise that like I have already mentioned, sometimes that really isn't enough. Which is sad. Because you might feel as if you'll never find that deep, intense connection with someone again, and instead you might just find a healthy, normal relationship. And what is better? Who knows. 

If you haven't already noticed, I psycho-analyse everything. This is mainly down to 2 things. My experience in life has taught me A LOT. I know a fair ton of shit due to the fact I have experienced a lot of shit. Also, my mum is a therapist, so I have spent a fair portion of my life talking about the psychology behind people's actions when something happens to me or someone close to me. I have never studied psychology but I like to think I am somewhat clued up.

So again, what was the point in this whole show? The point was to show that this is what a normal relationship between Normal People is often like. The fact that it seems like there's no point, is the point. because that's probably how Connell and Marianne felt at times too. After my long term situationship, I was plagued with the whole "what was the point?!" and "that was a waste of time", two things that viewers might think after investing their time in this show. I often thought, "all I did was get hurt", it was dramatic, and wrecked with my mental health in a lot of ways. I resented them, and I resented myself for it too. For sticking with it for so long. But I finally found peace with it all when I decided that yes, everything does happen for a reason

I wrote a blog post a while back called What makes a successful relationship? and I reflected on exactly that. Just because a relationship ends, does that mean it isn't successful? was the main theme of the post. I felt like a failure after a few situationships, but when I wrote that piece, I realised that things are only a failure if you look at them in that way. I wonder if Connell and Marianne felt the same at all. I also then wrote a blog post, maybe a year or so after that first one, called 
A cherry pie isn't a failure just because you ate it all after I read a novel that validated my feelings on success vs failure. The author said in that one line what I had spent a lifetime trying to articulate. Everyone can determine success in their own way, and I would not say that Connell's and Marianne's relationship was a failure, because they both learnt so much and grew so much from it. How can that ever be deemed as a failure? I hope this show has made people realise that, and the importance of every person in your life, whether it be a relationship or not.

I am going to leave this here as I have rambled for far too long, but if you take anything away from this, just remember that love is messy, difficult and that is Normal. Thank you to Normal People for showing people that, and also remember, just because love is all of those things, it doesn't mean it isn't successful. Everything happens from a reason, and we need these life lessons to constantly grow and adapt. 

I haven't even mentioned the cinematography or the costumes or the score. damn. They were great. I do wish I had all day to talk about this show...

Bye for now,
Tamzin xxx

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