There’s Something About Normal People

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Fun fact of the day: Matty Healy actually read “Normal People,” watched Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal passionately fall in love the most infuriating way possible and decide to write “About You,” the new song on The 1975’s latest album titled “Being Funny in a Foreign Place.”

Just kidding. That is definitely not the truth of how “About You” came to be (after all, The 1975 specializes in doomed love and intense longing), but the song’s lyrics fit “Normal People” so well. Maybe too well, but who is to say?

If you have ever read “Normal People” by Sally Rooney or watched the adaptation on Hulu, then you know the vulnerability, the intensity, the rawness of Marianne and Connell’s relationship. The 1975 captures feelings around love that are hard to place the same way Sally Rooney writes her characters so humanely it hurts.

Stream the song on Spotify and listen to it in the context of “Normal People” to really get in the mood:

I know a place
It’s somewhere I go when I need to remember your face

The start of Marianne and Connell’s relationship grew in Sligo, Ireland, where home has a very different meaning to both of them. Marianne resents it, while Connell craves it. Simultaneously, they feel out of place and out of touch in the very place where their origin traces back to, and always in Sligo, they find their way back to each other. Each time they return home, or back to each other, we see a slightly different version of themselves connect and begin again.

Do you think I have forgotten?

When Marianne and Connell enter college (at the same place because that’s what star-crossed lovers do), it is clear from when they first see each other again that they indeed have not forgotten about each other. It was a necessary time apart that they both needed, as Marianne entered her journey of self-love and acceptance that Connell never gave her back in secondary school. Connell needed to reflect on his relationship with Marianne and sit with his regrets.

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With nothing to do I could lay and just look in your eyes
Wait (Don’t let go)
And pretend (Don’t let go)

Connell and Marianne did a lot of pretending with each other. Even in their most intimate moments, it was not always truthful, either to themselves or to each other. They move circularly — Marianne and Connell do things they think the other person loves. They do this until they can’t. But when the two of them are alone, they are alone. It was Connell that said to Marianne, “I’m not a religious person but I do sometimes think God made me for you.” When the two are apart, there is a degree of yearning, with moments where you can see them needing each other even when it isn’t healthy or possible. They do always come back to each other, though. That part stays true throughout the whole of their story. It is an unspoken bond, an “It’s not like this with other people.”

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There was something about you that now I can’t remember
It’s the same damn thing that made my heart surrender

This set of lyrics, sung by the lovely Carly Holt, brings Marianne and Connell to the longing part of their story, which starts from literally page one (or episode one). Marianne expresses outwardly that she doesn’t care about a human connection the same way everyone else does, but Connell is one of the first people that break through her wall. She may have been naive and he may have not done it in the best way, but she falls for him, and she falls hard. When she enters college and finds other people that fall for her, she forgets why she let Connell treat her badly in the first place when other people show her what it’s like to be worshipped. She remembers later — it is because he is the first person in her life that shows her what love, real love, is like. Best friends first, always. Worship without divinity is never what Marianne and Connell represented, but unconditional respect for who the other is.

And I’ll miss you on a train
I’ll miss you in the morning

Cue Connell sitting on the train in Italy, missing Marianne even though she’s right in front of him. Cue the grocery store scene, where they have that awkward exchange, and in their eyes, you see just how much they miss each other. Cue Connell crying after the Debs. Cue the time Connell called her because it is the only phone number he has memorized. If “Normal People” could be summarized by one lyric, it would be this one.

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I never know what to think about
I think about you

About youuuuuuuu

They default back to each other. When Connell gets diagnosed with depression and begins therapy, Marianne is a support system that transcends beyond romance. Even when they are not romantic with each other because of their respective relationships, they help each other because they know things about the other that people have not yet uncovered. The periods of time where Marianne and Connell are not in an active relationship have some important keystones that develop and strengthen their relationship. In their last scene, they finally acknowledge all the good the two have done for each other.

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And just like that, the two mediums of a song and a love story create a beautiful union that reconciles the feelings of love, hurt and want, and ultimately going back to the person that showed you what home is like.

Tweet @VALLEYMag what you think about this “Normal People” and The 1975 crossover!


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