Elle Fanning is captivating in this mysterious Hulu drama about a perplexing teen suicide.
This recap of the Hulu series The Girl from Plainville season 1, episode 1 contains spoilers.
The depiction of mental health and teen suicide is a tough subject matter to address. The Netflix series 13 Reasons Why came under heavy criticism for its controversial portrayal of the issue, some believing that by showing the act itself or by simply spotlighting the topic there would be an uptick in suicides. Therefore, Hulu starts and ends each episode with a disclaimer, which states ‘this program contains subject matter related to mental health and suicide’, with links to prevention sites and helplines. The Girl from Plainville hinges on this topic of discussion yet doesn’t glamorize or lessen the issue.
The Girl from Plainville season 1, episode 1 recap
The premiere opens with a text exchange between Michelle Carter (Elle Fanning) and Conrad ‘Coco’ Roy III. In these messages, the two teens declare their love for one another, although their vague nature hints at something more sinister afoot. Michelle seems to be almost provoking Conrad into doing something and from the disclaimer alone it becomes very apparent what he intends to do. This mysterious opener suggests foul play, which makes for an intriguing introduction, hooking the viewer in.
Coco is found dead in a Kmart car park, having committed suicide. The family’s reaction to this awful event is authentic and heartfelt. They are devastated by this shocking incident, which indicates that they didn’t actually see any of this coming. Another person distraught from the news is our lead, Michelle, played expertly by Elle Fanning. She goes to tell her parents of this unforeseen tragedy, yet they react nonplussed. They don’t seem to be aware of this Conrad, talking like this is the first time they’ve even heard his name. Is this all an act? Is Michelle really in love or just creating her own narrative? This mystery is at the heart of the drama and the filmmakers leave the audience guessing right until the end.
At the funeral, Michelle lays it on thick. She sobs like a stereotypically heartbroken teenager, but it doesn’t quite add up. Fanning plays it with an unhinged intensity. Is she an attention seeker or a criminal mastermind? Detective Gordon is on the case to figure this all out. The poor man is given eight boxes full of transcripts to decipher. He reads through the star-crossed lovers’ text messages hoping to find some truth.
Directed by Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right), this is a solid debut that sets up the story with lots of intrigue and ambiguity. Elle Fanning is great as this strange teen caught in the middle of a criminal investigation. The premiere gives us just enough information to be going with, but still reels the viewer in with mystery and many unanswered questions. Another Hulu series to binge to your heart’s content.
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