I, a water sign, am extremely used to being horny and sad at the same time. I frequently think about the poetry in that one Robert Sheehan blooper from Misfits, where he describes ‘cranking’—which is what it sounds like: a crying wank.
And now, since the BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney’s much-loved novel Normal People has been released, the whole internet is dealing with a collective reckoning of being incredibly horny while emotionally devastated. In case you missed it, you can watch the trailer here.
If you’ve missed the Normal People train, now is the time to get on board. The adaptation’s newcomer leads, Daisy Edgar Jones and Paul Mescal, have nailed being impossibly attractive but still deeply believable as students. The story is an Irish collegiate romance, but with the emotional punches that are more war film than Nick Hornby in vibe.
If you’ve ever felt that weird pang of existing in a place but never being seen, or feeling like your never going to belong, or felt the twist in your gut when you put the person you like before your need to be treated fairly—bring tissues, this one is gonna hurt. But in a validating and beautiful way.
And as many on the internet have observed, Normal People is an incredibly sexy show. Irish accents, aesthetically pleasing framing, sex scenes that straddle being beautifully realistic and awkward and also absurdly intimate. It’s almost irresponsible that something that is instilling such a collective longing for human connection—and emotional, enthusiastic sex—could be released during the middle of a lockdown, but sometimes, it be like that.
For ease of perusal, the reactions to Normal People (and uh… Paul Mescal’s butt/chain/everything) can roughly be divided into three camps. Powerfully horny w tinges of sadness, Sad Wrecks, and people who are so impressed with how the series has handled adapting the book and portraying Irish life and college.
And if you’ve binged Normal People and want to keep feeling all the feelings, you’re in luck, because there are a tonne of Ireland-centric films that can literally cause physical pain. Start with The Wind That Shakes The Barley, which includes a healthy amount of Cillian Murphy’s cheekbones. Follow it up with Hunger, for Michael Fassbender and director Steve McQueen’s devastating depiction of the Irish hunger strikes. Then, round it all out with Once, the romantic drama that the “Falling Slowly” song that always makes you cry is from.
The perfect curated list of films to make you ugly cry. If we can’t be physically released just yet, queue up an ~emotional~ one.
You can watch Normal People on Stan in Australia.