The Girl from Plainville is Hulu’s latest in a streaming service bonanza of dramatized true crime/true scandal serials. The show follows the highly publicized and controversial story of Michelle Carter who was convicted of manslaughter for the suicide of her boyfriend Conrad “Coco” Roy because of her text messages which encouraged and ultimately convinced Conrad to end his own life. The series stars Elle Fanning (The Great) as Michelle and Colton Ryan (Dear Evan Hansen) as Coco and delves beyond the headlines into the couple’s relationship and both of their issues with family life and mental illness.
But does the show cross the line from a controversial psychological thriller into a glorification of a boys suicide/murder? Also, is it good?
The Conservative Critic will ask: Is it entertaining? Does it have artistic/intellectual value? And is it liberal propaganda?
Conservative Critic Meter Check: The Girl From Plainville
Overall rating: Spooky good
The Girl From Plainville takes an off-kilter psychologically chilling look at Michelle Carter’s point-of-view and frame of mind. The wonderful Elle Fanning delivers a 17 year old narcissist with a desperate and delusional desire for acclaim playing out her life as if it was the plot of Glee. Though Michelle is by far the central character of the show and the show is told from her point of view, the show in no way makes excuses for Michelle and the character is played as coldly as Ted Bundy in the many films made about his life.
Though it can be a little slow at times, the show is compelling and interesting and very well acted. It is definitely worth watching for fans of the genre and anyone who followed the bone chilling story of Michelle Clark and her text message murder.
Is it entertaining?
Rating: Pretty interesting
What makes The Girl From Plainville so watchable is how interesting the backstory of the real Michelle Clark and Coco Roy really is. Following the media coverage of the story, viewers were only given a small picture of a suffering boy and a perhaps truly evil young woman who begged him to take his own life. The dramatized retelling allows us to dive deeper into both of their psychological states – informing us on how Coco even fell in love with Michelle and was dating her if she was so set on the end of his life. It also lets us fully understand the extent of Michelle’s narcissism complex and the adults around her may not have been as complicit as we’d want them to be.
While the show can be a bit slow at times, taking a little too much time with every single text message and element of social anxiety which caused the undoing of Michelle Carter, the context provided to the well known true story and the surrealism added to enhance the point-of-view of Carter make it enjoyable.
Does it have intellectual/artistic value?
The acting is the primary hero of the show with Elle Fanning serving a completely believable seventeen year old girl psychopath. Viewers will be terrified and angry every time she enters the frame. Notably with her perfect styling and makeup, Fanning also looks exactly like Michelle Carter. Colton Roy also gives a stunning and heart breaking performance as the completely lovable and recognizably disturbed young Coco. For those of us who have lost someone to suicide, there are signs we wish we’d seen and Colton really hits them with nuance, care and grace. It’s a truly sensitive and careful performance which will likely be unfortunately overlooked by Fanning’s more critically palatable depiction of Carter (it’s just a juicier role).
Additionally, the show has some elements of surrealism which really works. The real life couple mostly communicated via text and email for their entire relationship (they didn’t live in the same city). But in the show through Carter’s imagination, they are speaking directly to each other and often with theme music. It’s haunting.
Is it liberal propaganda?
So far there doesn’t appear to be any attempts to shoe-horn a liberal agenda into this true tragic story.