Best in Arts & Entertainment 2020: Normal People (Television)

Normal People (Television, Hulu)

Out of all the shows that I watched this year, this is the one that snuck up and floored me. The episodes are only 23 minutes long. Yet, each scene flows with expert precision. Each event is given exactly how much time feels necessary to convey a feeling or an understanding about these characters. And the two characters that matter most are fleshed out with the kind of detail that no real person would ever let make it to the screen. It’s this ability to illuminate the intricacies of social structure, poverty, wealth, love, sex, attraction, and how these things shape the characters that make this show so unforgettable.

Irish actors Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal play Marianne and Connell. Marianne is the smartest kid in school, has a rich family, and nobody seems to want to spend any time with her. Connell is an insanely popular jock, who’s poor mother works for Marianne’s family, and he is the only one who really speaks to Marianne. This hidden communication eventually leads to a hidden love affair, but what happens after they leave their provincial Irish town and go to college is where the real depth of the story lies.

This is one of those rare achievements that could not have existed before the modern era. A look at the truest love imaginable and how difficult making that work can truly be. It is selling this show short to write that no television series has ever used sex in as personal and intimate a way as this show does. The revelation of love has been seen in many ways, but I cannot remember the last time a show displayed two characters sex lives so vividly in an attempt to reveal how sexual intimacy can truly be the most beautiful display of love. You will understand when you watch it.

Nathan Ligon

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