In April of 2020, Hulu’s miniseries Normal People blew up across the internet. The show is an adaptation of Sally Rooney’s 2018 critically acclaimed novel of the same name. For many, the melancholic drama marks the early weeks of the COVID pandemic and stay-at-home orders. During April we were forced to accept that the coronavirus was not going to be a two-week fix, but something much harder to handle. The series offered many people an escape from the stress they were currently experiencing. In fact, Normal People was such an immediate success that only weeks after its release Hulu announced they were committed to adapting Rooney’s 2017 novel Conversations with Friends.
Set in Ireland after the 2008 economic crisis, Rooney’s debut novel explores the boundaries, or lack thereof, of love and friendship between friends and couples. Frances and Bobbi are anti-capitalist college students with a deep, complex friendship who become involved in the strained marriage between Melissa and Nick. Rooney guides us to look at the disconnect between how we present our feelings (or want to feel) versus how we really feel on the inside.
I was required to read the book for an English class in 2019, but after reading the first few pages I just couldn’t put the book down. It didn’t take two days before I was finished and crushed that it was over. I rushed to read all of Rooney’s work before circling around to reread everything a second time. Rooney’s writing style is very direct; she isn’t elaborate or flowery in her descriptions. Rather, she’s to the point with short simlies and metaphors that perfectlly illustrate how a character is feeling.
Before the adaptations, Rooney was already well-known. She garnered a large following due not only to her novels but short stories and published essays as well. Celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Emily Ratajowski having been singing her praise for a while now. The success of the Normal People series has skyrocketed Rooney’s popularity and left a massive audience with high expectations for the new series.
Little was known about the adaptation until recently when BBC and Hulu announced the casting for the four main characters. Joe Alwyn (The Favourite) is set to play Nick. Jemima Kirke (Girls) will play Melissa. Sasha Lane (American Honey) will play Bobbi. Allison Oliver will play Francis.
Filming for the series is expected to take place during the end of this year and the release is planned for 2022. Until it’s release, I’ll be playing Rooney’s character playlists on repeat while reinvesting myself in the messy drama of the novel for a third time.