Star-Crossed Lovers and Things Like That
Episode 1 of The Girl from Plainville begins with a series of text exchanges between Michelle Carter and Conrad “Coco” Roy III. They are generally sweet messages of undying teenage love. But more sinister meaning–implications of suicide and talk of “Romeo and Juliet”–lurks underneath Michelle’s texts to Conrad.
It’s July 2014 in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. A police officer arrives at Ms. Lynn Roy’s home. She has reported her 18-year-old son, Conrad, as missing. They soon find the young man’s car sitting in a Kmart parking lot, filled with carbon monoxide–and Conrad inside, dead by suicide.
Distraught by the news, Lynn goes up to Conrad’s room. There, she finds a note he left to Michelle, and one he wrote for his dad. Rummaging in panic through the rest of his notebooks, she finds no such note for herself.
An hour away, in Plainville, Michelle Carter tears up as she informs her parents that Conrad is dead. Her mom’s response: “Who’s Conrad?”
Michelle’s friends come over to comfort her, even though they bemoan the fact that they didn’t even know Conrad. Michelle cries that his death is all her fault. She then seemingly switches gears, asking them to help her pick out something perfect for the funeral so his family knows she cares.
At the Mattapoisett police station, Detective Scott Gordon investigates Conrad’s case. Going through the teen’s phone, he finds only one text exchange–with Michelle. At 6:25, Conrad texted her he was almost there. Three hours later, Michelle sent, “Please answer me. I’m scared you actually did it.”
Conrad deleted every other message on his phone, and Gordon wants to find out what those were.
Michelle texts Lynn on and off before Conrad’s funeral. Conrad’s sister Sidney is suspicious of her, but Lynn thinks Michelle is just hurting and wants to be close to them.
Michelle goes to the funeral, where she hugs Lynn tightly despite having never met her before. She talks about when she got to know Conrad in Florida, and Lynn remarks that it’s strange she has never met Michelle before now.
Before leaving, Michelle hugs Conrad’s friend Rob, promising to help him organize a fundraiser for mental health in memory of Conrad.
After the funeral, the Roy family spreads Conrad’s ashes in the ocean. His father, Co, wonders out loud to Lynn if his suicide was their fault–but Lynn won’t endure that line of question. They gave him therapy and pills, she says. What else could they have done?
When Michelle learns the Roy family excluded her from this outing, she becomes angry. She claims she was the only one Conrad cared about and the only one who loved him. She later meets her friends at a restaurant and asks them to participate in her and Rob’s fundraiser.
The police later interview Rob, who says Conrad had attempted suicide before, two years ago. Rob downplays Michelle’s importance to Conrad, saying the two of them only met up a couple of times.
Someone named Susie text Michelle, saying she’s sorry for her recent loss. Michelle types and deletes a message, ultimately not responding.
She goes fishing with her family, but feels they are downplaying her deep connection with Conrad. Her mother tells her she needs to see a doctor again. She says this situation feels too similar to “last time.” Michelle dismisses her.
Gordon goes through Conrad’s recovered files, videos, and messages. He finds a video of Conrad talking about social anxiety and texts he sent to Michelle about wanting to kill himself. Michelle responds with several messages, asking when and how he’s going to do it.
The episode ends with Michelle giving an eerie performance in front of her mirror of Lea Michele’s rendition of “Make You Feel My Love,” from Glee. Feigning tears and heartfelt emotion, the 17-year-old immediately composes herself the moment the song is over.
The Episode Review
It seems 2022 is the year for dramas inspired by true stories. From Inventing Anna to WeCrashed to The Dropout–and that list is not exhaustive–streaming services are enthralled lately by very real, very polarizing figures of the recent past.
Many of these dramas walk the fine line between humanization and glamorization of criminal events, and that is doubly the case for Hulu’s The Girl From Plainville, inspired by the true and heartbreaking case of Michelle Carter’s role in Conrad Roy’s suicide.
While it’s not totally clear how the show will avoid exploiting the actual events of 2014, its premier proceeds delicately, creating mystery and suspense around Michelle’s motivations without glorifying suicide or her “romance” with Conrad.
Led by the inimitable performances of Elle Fanning and Chloë Sevigny, the drama has an intriguing start. If a true-crime series with great emotional depth interests you at all, you’ll likely want to give this series a try.
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|