Normal People is a beautiful and realistic depiction of young love, with all the highs and lows along the way. From the opening moments of this tale right the way through to the end, the first episode sets the foundations nicely for what follows.
Episode 1 of Normal People introduces us to Marianne, who challenges her teacher surrounding his teaching techniques. It leads to her rebelling and leaving the classroom, deciding against going to the Principal’s Office and heading home instead. Fellow classmate Connell heads over to her house not long after and the two discuss their mock exam results until Connell’s Mum Lorraine takes him home.
Marianne finds herself berated by the other kids and moaned at by her Mother when she returns home; this girl really can’t catch a break. Her brother Alan joins in too and teases his sibling about her social life, going on to force her to walk to school in the pouring rain while he picks his friend up instead.
At school a drenched Marianne arrives late but despite the other kids teasing her, she holds her own and hits back with clever comebacks for each of them. Connell watches from afar, admiring her tenacity, before speaking to the girl in private about her outburst. As they keep talking, she admits to liking him and how he’s the only one who actually talks to her.
After watching his football match, Marianne heads home where Connell arrives and they discuss their common interests. When Connell mentions how it’s different for her, given she has no friends, she steers the conversation back to her feelings toward him. Connell brings up his friendships and how awkward it would be at school if they were together so instead she proposes they keep it a secret. It’s enough for him to kiss her before leaving and going to the party.
As the first episode closes out, Connell and Marianne keep up their hidden romance, with Connell suggesting she can come over to his house Saturday to hook up properly.
Episode 2 begins with Marianne heading over to Connell’s house where they talk about their interests. He struggles to formulate an opinion on exactly what he wants whereas he openly admits that she always has an opinion. They say opposites attract and this is enough for them to start stripping off and hooking up. It’s intimate, awkward and incredibly realistic as the duo talk and have sex together.
At school, Connell’s friends berate Connell for not telling him about his free house but he remains cool, doing his best not to show his feelings for Marianne as they hook up repeatedly after school.
This hooking up sees both their feelings start to deepen for one another as they sit on the beach talking and lie in one another’s arms after sex. Later on, he opens up about putting law down as a subject and admits he doesn’t know why he’s doing it. Instead, Marianne suggests he choose English and switch colleges given that’s what he’s actually passionate about.
At school the next day, Connell’s friend Eric teases Marianne, eventually calling her ugly and flat-chested. Connell struggles to keep a level-head upon hearing this and heads over to check on her later in the day. They talk about The Ghost House everyone used to frequent and he agrees to take her up to see it, where they discuss their feelings for one another, which is where the episode closes out.
The first two episodes do a wonderful job setting the scene and introducing us to a whole host of interesting characters. The dialogue and setting feels very realistic and the two central characters have undeniable chemistry on-screen. It’s a very simple premise but one that’s executed to perfection.
The idea of young love, and how those early moments of lust can consume you, is perfectly captured here and seeing the inner struggle Connell has had to deal with in the wake of his hidden romance is certainly something that’s very intriguing indeed. Quite what the rest of the episodes have in store for us remains to be seen but based on this showing, it should be very interesting indeed.