Day 6

Sally Rooney's novel Normal People now a TV series that you should savour, not binge

Normal People was a hit novel by celebrated Irish author Sally Rooney. Now her story of two millennials navigating their love is a TV series coming to CBC Gem. TV critic Jen Chaney says it's a show to take in slowly rather than binge watch.

'You want to kind of take your time with it,' says Vulture TV critic Jen Chaney

Normal People will be available on CBC Gem starting May 27. The series is produced by BBC, Element Pictures and Hulu and is based on the novel by Sally Rooney. (BBC/Element Pictures/Hulu)
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When Sally Rooney's novel Normal People was released in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2018, booksellers had a hard time keeping it in stock. 

The Irish author's second book was a bestseller and was also longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.

Normal People has now been adapted into a television series jointly produced by the BBC, Element Pictures in Ireland and Hulu in the United States. 

The series was released in the U.K., Ireland and the U.S. in April, and much like the novel has been getting a lot of buzz on social media. 

It's the story of the developing relationship between two millennials in Ireland, each from different economic and social circles.

On May 27, the series will be available in Canada on CBC Gem and according to Vulture TV critic Jen Chaney, the show is worthy of the attention it's receiving.

But, said Chaney, it's the kind of show that should be savoured rather than watched in a marathon binge viewing.

"This is not necessarily that kind of show. I mean, you want to know what happens to the characters. But it's more of a slow burn, taking its time, really immersing you in this whole experience. And really making you feel very deeply about the characters," said Chaney.

The love story

Chaney said many stories of young romance are not taken seriously, but Normal People takes a different approach.

"I think these relationships that you find yourself in when you're in your teens and trying to figure out who you are have a profound, long-lasting impact on you as you grow up and head into adulthood, and eventually, you know, into more serious relationships," said Chaney.

"So the way that it takes that seriously and the two main characters seriously, I really, really appreciated."

CBC Gem will stream Normal People, which stars Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, beginning May 27. (CBC)

Irish public broadcaster RTÉ has fielded a number of complaints about the sex scenes in the series, but Chaney didn't find the sex gratuitous.

"I think understanding how Maryann and Connell relate to each other when they're being intimate is crucial to understanding how they relate to each other in general and why they're so drawn to each other," said Chaney.

But she said that the sex scenes might not be suitable for viewers under the age of 16.

An escape

Watching a TV show based in Ireland is an added bonus for Chaney. While being locked down and facing travel restrictions, she said Normal People is a good distraction.

"Especially right now, I think, it's like you're able to live somewhere else by virtue of watching the show. And then it is told in such an intimate way that ... you feel very immersed in the relationship between these two people. So, you know, I know a lot of people, myself included, are hungry, have to escape. And this really does feel like an escape in a lot of ways."

WATCH | Normal People's official full-length trailer:

But aside from the scenery, Chaney was able to escape in other ways.

"It's one of those shows that I just gave myself over to it. And sometimes you watch a show and you're like, 'I don't like what they did with that character, or I don't like that dialogue.' And this just didn't feel that way to me. It just felt like I was given permission to just experience what these people experienced for multiple episodes," said Chaney.

"They go through some tough stuff. But I really appreciated getting able to observe it. But you want to kind of take your time with it. And I think that has value as much as a show that you want to race through in a weekend."

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