By Alice Browne
Since its release in April 2019, Sally Rooney’s second novel Normal People has been
inescapable. It’s physical impact alone feels something of a phenomenon, in the following
summer the now instantly recognisable green cover became a staple for morning commuters
and holiday makers alike, becoming as much of an accessory as a work of literary fiction.
Moving into the online sphere, the infatuation has only been amplified with subsequent think
pieces dominating timelines for months to come.
Although what makes Rooney’s novel quite so salient is an obvious matter of personal
interpretation, it may arguably stem from the genuine sense of relatability it provides. Coined a zeitgeist novel, readers see it tackle the precarious nature of intimacy, class, and the insecurity of self hood. As Normal People navigates Marianne and Connell’s ‘situationship’ through their time at university, The Guardian’s decision to label it as a strikingly millennial tale doesn’t feel a million miles away from the truth. Although this label runs the risk of following other writing of its kind in appearing as contrived or patronising, Rooney approaches the text with a similar sense of delicate anxiety to the characters she creates.
As we eagerly await the twelve-part BBC adaptation, the first-look trailer has allowed for a small glimpse into the world of Normal People on the small screen. Whilst dramas surrounding the complexity of adolescence have always been marketable, shows like Netflix’s Sex Education and HBO’s Euphoria has proved that, when done well, these shows can not only reach astounding success financially, but, most importantly, truly resonate with their viewers. Their authentic and sensitive exploration of more mature topics, such as the lasting effects of trauma, are both necessary and welcomed by audiences. From this, it becomes entirely evident why Rooney’s novel would, and should, be next.
The trailer is as intimate as the novel itself, using the audio from a phone call from Marianne
(Daisy Edgar-Jones) to Connell (Paul Mescal) alongside imagery some of their most visually
tender moments, as well as the Irish landscape they exist within. From the 50 seconds we’re
given, it proves to be as stripped back and personal as the story itself, and with Rooney herself listed as one of the show’s co-writers, we can only trust that her natural sentimentality is continued throughout.
Although a date hasn’t been confirmed for the series, it will appear on BBC Three, BBC One
and Hulu at some point this spring.
You can watch the trailer here: