‘Normal People’ Star Paul Mescal Addresses Sex Scene Backlash
But not everyone was impressed by its intimacy. Following a bout of criticism in Ireland where the story is set, Paul Mescal, 24 (who plays Connell Waldron in the popular series) has addressed the backlash.
In case you're yet to watch (and you should, immediately) Normal People is based on the 2018 book of the same name by Sally Rooney.
It focuses on the story of two teens as they become young adults - Marianne (Daisy Edgar Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal) - and how they navigate their relationship over the course of a few years.
The two meet at school, but couldn't be more different. Connell is the popular, good looking boy that everyone likes, from a less well-off background, while Marianne is affluent, intelligent and quick witted.
They're an unlikely match - but gradually, they begin an intense love affair filled with intimacy, passion and heartache.
The series follows their journey from school to college, with viewers watching as the pair pursue other relationships but inevitably drift in and out of each other's lives, unable to stay away from one another.
Just like the book, the whole series is pretty steamy, and although it has reaped praise for its intimate scenes, they have also attracted criticism and were even debated on an Irish radio show, Liveline.
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While the series was praised during the segment, a number of listeners called in to voice their own reviews, with some calling it "immoral" and "pornographic".
Following the backlash, Paul Mescal has defended the scenes, adding that he's "incredibly proud" of what he says was a "truthful representation of sex amongst young people".
Speaking on RTE One's The Late Late Show, he said: "I actually listened in [to Liveline] yesterday, and I suppose I was a bit surprised, but the last thing I want to do is sit and judge people for that, because they're entitled to their opinion.
"My own perspective of it is we worked hard to make it feel like it was a real, accurate and truthful representation of sex amongst young people. It's something I'm incredibly proud of and incredibly proud to see on Irish screens, personally."
Importantly, the sex scenes in Normal People also tackle the issue of consent. In the second episode, when Marianne and Connell are about to have sex for the first time, Connell says: "If you want to stop at anything, we can obviously stop [..] If it hurts, or, anything, we can stop, it won't be awkward. You can just say."
Thousands of viewers took to Twitter to praise the approach, with one tweeting: "I've NEVER seen a tv show/movie capture the essence of a sex scene like #NormalPeople did. I was literally shocked at how well it was produced. Amazing."
If you're yet to watch, all 12 episodes (which are 30 minutes each) are available on BBC iPlayer. Warning - you may feel compelled to binge watch...
Featured Image Credit: BBC