Normal People vs. Conversation with Friends

5 mins read

Turn the time back to May 2020.

The quarantine was putting a test on all of us, it felt quite the same every day and every night. And as that repetitive pattern replayed itself again, I suddenly stumbled upon a show that gave everyone a new perspective and hope during that trying times. Based on a bestselling book that I’m afraid to say I have never heard about prior to my discovery, it immediately grabned my attention, because everybody was raving of how relatable Sally Rooneys characters were. (And who doesn’t love well written characters?! To me thats the post important part in media).

Copyright : © Hulu

So I clicked on play and something changed for me. Two Irish people, who fell in and out of love multiple times, whose conversations and miscommunications hit hard and who had a connection between each other, that on one hand I immediately felt attached to, because it reminded me of human interactions I used to have, but also it hit me with the realization that Mariannes and Connells love language was something I deeply longed for without even knowing it.

Their story had so many layers and themes to it; things you won’t see on the surface while watching it for the first time, but open up to you only later and whose gravitas hits you hit you with deep realization. An example of representing young people in love who are trying to figure out themselves in a messed up world and while it can get complicated and ugly at times, the purest relationships that are meant to be always find a way back. And while I was following Marianne and Connell escaping from their small Irish town to colorful Dublin, with different partners by their side and internal struggles they didn’t want to admit to themselves, it hit me that no matter what happened, it was still the two of them destined for each other, whether one would stay or the other would go.

Copyright : © Hulu
Forward to May 2022 now.„Normal People“ shifted something in me permanently and I wished that „Conversation with Friends“ would’ve done the same. Sadly Frances and Nick simply could not provide that. Even while reading the book, I knew, that the story often goes in circles and Frances was too cerebral instead of giving me a glimpse into her thoughts and feelings. In Marianne’s and Connell’s eyes you could read what was going on inside them the whole time and even if internal and external influences partly prevented them from expressing their needs, you could still feel it as an audience member the whole time. With Frances, on the other hand, it was like staring at a blank wall.

Some aspects are well done; the exquisite direction from the creative team led by Lenny Abrahamson, the wonderful glimpses of its Irish setting and the mix of awkwardness and secret desires that the characters were longing for. Which could have worked even more wonderfully if the Frances and Nick or even Frances and Bobbi had chemistry. How to look the part does not help alone also to radiate the character and its peculiarities. That’s why the romantic ups and downs were just immature and left me with a frustrating feeling behind.

While Marianne and Connell have given me warmth and security, the harsh reality is that now after finishing the last episode I feel more isolated now than at any other time in the last two years. Unfortunately, I would even go so far as to say that it is just an empty shell of what it could have been – in the end, it’s more of a conversation between acquaintances, than between people who can understand each other without words and always know what is on the other’s mind. And in the end, those are the encounters that change us: Those that hold our souls like no other and never let go of them.


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